Friday, October 02, 2009

Hail Shaempsar (Mare Nostrum, Glory to Rome)

Mare Nostrum made it's second appearance in as many weeks, and Glory to Rome is also played in order to ensure that we do nothing but play ancient Roman themed games.

Mare Nostrum

For our second game, we shuffled around who played which civ.

Agent Easy = Rome
Shemp = Greece
Kozure = Egypt
Luch = Carthage

We also added the expansion board, even though we were not playing with the other expansion elements (apparently, it evens out the number of unowned provinces near all the players).

As Rome, I was playing a combat oriented civ. once again (I was Carthage last time). In order to avoid the combat which was so detrimental to Rome and Greece last time, Shemp and I called a truce and I immediately set sail south. I won a battle against Alexandria and "occupied" his two resources there. I then went west and grabbed the province just east of Carthage from Luch (I couldn't aggravate, err, pick on only one other player, could I?). I was gathering lots of resources through my occupations, but my forces were spread thin to maintain the occupation and several angry opponents were gathering up their forces to take back what was theirs. Before I could even purchase a single hero or wonder, I had to pull back. Unfortunately for me, Shemp (who had been sitting around quietly expanding while I was pillaging) sailed his cursed greek ships and sank my triremes. My soldiers were trapped, and the truce was over.

Unfortunately, he had the upper hand.

Suddenly, Rome had very weak. Few cards per turn, and with many enemies. And Egypt over there was starting to look pretty powerful, too. I was being called to reign in Greece, and tried, but failed. I briefly gained the title of director of commerce and mandated that large numbers of cards be traded in an effort to break up the tax cards being accumulated by Egypt and Greece. It worked as a stalling mechanic, buying me a few rounds more. Then Greece took the director of commerce role from me. I was forced to try a bold (read: desperate) move where I tried to position a trireme south of Athens (amongst two greek ships) and planned to strike at the heart of the greeks with 6 legions, crossing my fingers that the greek blockade wouldn't sink it. Unfortunately, they did.

Shemp had by now won all three roles (again!). He made his final purchase and won the game (again!).

Mare Nostrum is quite a remarkable game. It feels like you are caught up in a very delicate balancing act where everyone is forced to make a move, but they also know that any move can lead to the whole thing crashing down. The pressure starts right away due to the limited caravan and city markers available and the close proximity between players. Turns pass quickly, and it feels tense all the way through. Quite an achievement. I'm looking at Antike now and wondering if it should remain in my collection after all...

Glory to Rome

We finished the Roman themed evening with Glory to Rome. Shemp proved to us that he is quite the powerhouse when it comes to games set in classical Rome by winning this one as well. The highlight for me was completing the card that gives me a patron for every point of influence (and I had +/- 10). That was a lot of patrons. Not enough to win me the game, though!

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