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Flashback Friday- Mare Nostrum - Love It or Hate It? Do You Still Play It?

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Mare nostrum 1st edition vs 2nd edition

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Mare Nostrum, designed by Serge Laget was first published in 2003. Inspired by Civilization, Mare Nostrum also incorporated mechanics inspired by other popular board games including Settlers of Catan, Risk, Diplomacy and Citadels. It is considered by many to be one of the earliest examples of a successful Eurogame/Ameritrash hybrid.

In 2016, Academy Games released Mare Nostrum- Empire, a new edition of of the game with new art work, deluxe components, as well as a few tweaks which addressed some balance issues in the original game.

What do you think of Mare Nostrum? Do you consider it a “hybrid“? Do you prefer the original edition or the newer edition? Love it or hate it? Do you still play it?

There Will Be Games Mare nostrum 1st edition vs 2nd edition

Mare nostrum 1st edition vs 2nd edition
Shellie "ubarose" Rose  (She/Her)
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Plays boardgames. Drinks bourbon. Writes code.

Articles by Shellie

Mare nostrum 1st edition vs 2nd edition
Shellie "ubarose" Rose
Managing Editor & Web Admin

Articles by Shellie

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dysjunct's Avatar
dysjunct replied the topic: #300097 26 Jul 2019 17:04
I really liked the original version but couldn't ever seem to get it to the table.

I'd like to check out the new one. Anyone played it here? Does it fix the issues with the original?
Gary Sax's Avatar
Gary Sax replied the topic: #300104 26 Jul 2019 20:15
I had such a bad experience in my first game that I probably won't play it again. It could easily be that I just had a bad game full of people being shitty (fight at the table, tax win by Egypt, a trade round controller who kept restricting trades almost completely) but it soured me even if it was a corner case.
ubarose's Avatar
ubarose replied the topic: #300108 26 Jul 2019 20:55
We have the Academy Games edition and play it quite a bit. The new version prevents the trade leader from limiting trade every round, and tweaked the map and a few other things to make it more balanced. However, it still requires that players be aware of the ways in which each civ can potentially run away with the game, and the need to sit on each other to prevent that from happening.
Michael Barnes's Avatar
Michael Barnes replied the topic: #300112 26 Jul 2019 23:32
This was the game that made me realize BGG was full of shit. I remember all the grousing about balance, the mediocre rating, the various “concerns”...I played it, loved it, and realized that most of the complaints could be fixed by a) not giving the first time player Greece and b) making sure everyone knows that you never trade Tax to Egypt.

I went through a phase of playing it a lot, right after Mythology came out- that was an essential expansion. It really added a lot to it.

But I’ve had almost no interest in the new version for some reason, I’m not really sure why.
ubarose's Avatar
ubarose replied the topic: #300116 27 Jul 2019 00:20
The new map makes Greece less difficult to play, but you still need to keep the pressure on Egypt to prevent them from walking away with Pyramid win.
jpat's Avatar
jpat replied the topic: #300186 29 Jul 2019 09:29
A few of us recently played this a couple of weekends in a row--kind of a rare thing, but the kind of thing needed for this game, in either iteration, as it's fundamentally a trading game in civ clothing with numerous sneaky ways to win. When I teach it (either version, though I sold off my older one a while back), I tell people that (1) this game will go faster than you think it's going to, (2) it's not a 4x game, (3) this game can end sneakily and surprisingly if people aren't paying attention to who's collecting what resource. And still it usually takes the reality of a sneak win to make that clear, and often times people don't want to play it again.

The original version was lovely and worked pretty well with Mythology added in, but it really only worked with five or six. I can't really say enough good things about how the Academy version handled the variable player counts by sliding a side board to cover part of the map. The presentation overall is excellent, especially with the poker chip resources, which not only add the expected pleasing heft and clack but also, more importantly, make the players' resources more visible. I have the roll-up map as well but have never used it. I've also never played with the expansion materials for the Academy version, which add Atlantis as a sixth player and various modules for complexifying various aspects of the game, none of which seem needed but might be OK.

This is still something of a "sometimes" game for me, probably in part because I'm awful at it (natch) and partly because it moves too fast and unpredictably to really grip me, but it was and remains a good design.
waddball's Avatar
waddball replied the topic: #300202 29 Jul 2019 12:31
I like the game for the most part, but I had a lot of problems with the presentation. I wish it was easier to see at a glance (maybe a central chart?) what resources people produced. As so much of the trading and victory hinges on knowing what they don't produce, this has to be done, but it's tedious figuring and re-figuring it out from just the map.
Space Ghost's Avatar
Space Ghost replied the topic: #300231 29 Jul 2019 17:42
I have the new version if you are interested -- its unplayed. I had backed it when announced and forgot to unback it when it became clear the Mythology expansion wasn't going to be part of it. I just can't bring myself to play without that.