Saturday, June 25, 2016

Mare Nostrum: Empires

Oh, look, a game post. This one won't even get political.

Mare Nostrum: Empires is the second edition of Mare Nostrum, and this one comes from Academy Games. It's part civilization game and part eurogame. The rules are clean and it's easy to teach. The game time is down to about a 1.5 hour game, 2.5 for a first game with all new players.

The game is played over several rounds, divided into phases. There are four victory conditions: buy 5 heroes/wonders; occupy 4 legendary cities/capital cities; become leader in trade, culture, and military; and by building the Great Pyramid.

If you've played the board game Civilization, this feels somewhat similar; things are set up for much faster play though, so I'm sure I'll get more play out of this ultimately than I would of MegaCivilization(the only version in print right now). So, assuming no familiarity, here are the phases:

Trade: Gather goods from the caravans you have placed(each one has a specific good it produces); markets double this amount. Cities give a coin each, with temples doubling that. Legendary cities grant a coin and a legendary good, with temples granting a choice of one or the other additional.

The trade leader then chooses the amount of resources to be traded that round(0-5 resources). There are three coins for this choice, which must be all used before reuse. Trading begins with the trade leader choosing another's resource, and then that player chooses, etc. There's a restriction on back and forth trade, and in the case of unequal goods, the leader gives the one that didn't get to trade a resource.

Build: The Culture leader chooses a player to take their build actions. then the next, etc.  Build costs are paid with either coins or sets of different goods.  Build actions cost 3, 6, 7-10, and 12. At cost three, are most builds: Caravans, control, triremes, fortresses, cities, and legions.  At cost six are markets and temples. Heroes and wonders start at 7, with each subsequent one costing and additional. And the Pyramid costs 12.  After each player's build phase, their scores on trade/culture/military are adjusted. Players may keep 2 coins after their build phase, but no goods.

Move/Battle:  The Military leader chooses players to act in order. That player performs their move actions and then their battles. Triremes move and battle first if you have them.  All movement is to adjacent or adjoining spaces, that is, your legions can walk across your triremes to the  other side of the sea. Naval battle has blue dice, land battles, white(there's different distributions).  Multiples of 5 create a casualty each.  Fortresses add 5 to your roll, and negate a casualty.

On a successful attack, you have three options: pillage, occupy, or convert.  Pillaging: destroy one building in the territory, and in the case of a caravan or city, get the accompanying resource.  Occupy: place legions on buildings in the region; next trade phase you gain those goods instead.  Convert: place a legion on the control flag of the other player; they still gain resource during the trade phase, but at the start of your battle phase,  the control flag is replaced by yours.

Adjust trade, culture, and military tracks after each players military phase.

If you can't figure it out, I think this game is pretty awesome. Some teaching advice: leave out the aftermath of battle options until the first time it's needed. By then players will have the other mechanisms down.

When you play Social Justice, the world loses.

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