Gameday First Play – Mare Nostrum: Empires

Posted on by Jesta

The ancient Romans called the Mediterranean Sea “mare nostrum”.

Which is Latin for “our sea”.

Mare Nostrum is an empire-building game in which 3-5 players lead their individual ancient empires to dominion of Mare Nostrum. You grow the fame and glory of your empire by expanding your influence into new Provinces, then extending your Trade Caravans, building Markets, and founding new Cities and Temples. You can recruit Heroes and create Wonders to help your cause. But beware of your “friends” because they may look upon your gains with envy and greed…

This is one of those ‘Dudes on a Map’ civ games without any real dudes on the map. It’s played over several rounds and the Winner is the first player to recruit 5 Leaders, control all 3 tracks, build the Pyramids or control all of the Capital cities. Each player controls a different Civilisation with their own ability… I was the Greek with Pericles who had a bonus to defence in combat.

The 3 tracks are Trade, Build and Combat and the leader of each track determines turn order for each of these 3 phases, and breaks ties.

Mare Nostrum Tracks

Each player has a player shield with setup info and starting resources on it.

Each round starts with income… You take a resource token for each Camel next to a resource in an area control, doubled if you have a Market in that region. You also get 1 coin per building next to a coin icon, doubled if a Temple is built in that region.

Mare Nostrum Territory

All the resources are tokens and you have a shield to hide things but it seems unclear if they should be hidden or not… You can work out from a players controlled areas what they have and you can’t carry any resources over (only 2 Gold) from round to round so it’s VERY easy to work out.

Mare Nostrum Resources

Phase 2 is Trade Resources and this is a very good way of doing trading…

Mare Nostrum Trade Phase

Whoever leads the Trade track determines how many resources people trade each round. There are tokens numbered 0 to 5 and that shows how many resources are traded this round.

Mare Nostrum Trade Tokens

You select that many and place them in front of your player shield. That player then chooses a token from another player and places it face down in front of their shield…

Mare Nostrum Trade Selection

The player who had a token taken then picks a token from another player, then that player chooses etc… This continues until all the tokens are taken or until the trade loops can’t continue. Everyone will end up with an equal amount of tokens so if trades are uneven the player with too many will give them to the player with the least to balance it up.

Phase 3 is build…

Mare Nostrum Build Phase

Now you use those resources to build a basic structure or unit for 3 (different resources or 3 coins), an advanced building for 6 or recruit a Leader/Build a Wonder for 7-10 depending on how many you have already

Buildings and Units go onto the board in an area you control while Flags give you control of empty neighbouring regions, Buildings and Camels get you resources, Forts defend in Combat, Legions attack and Boats go on water and allow movement across the Med.

Temples double Gold income and those Tents are markets that double resource income…

Leaders so onto your player board and provide you with extra abilities and some move you up on those all important tracks too.

Mare Nostrum Leaders

Next comes combat…

Mare Nostrum Move & Battle Phase

The leader on the of the combat track determines turn order for combat. You can move units to adjacent cites which starts a fight. You roll a die for each unit once each and add bonuses… For each 5 damage you kill an enemy unit with a Fortress rolling an automatic 5 and soaking up a wound too.

The dice are nice, but have numerals which was really annoying if the dice roll wasn’t facing you directly 🙂

Mare Nostrum Dice

Then you rearrange the tokens on the track to show who is the leader of each and start a new round.

That’s it, keep playing and when someone reaches an end game goal they win immediately.

Definitely not my kind of game but it’s interesting enough and short enough (around 90 mins) that I would play it again.

I like the ‘Leader chooses’ thing, the trade system, the different Civ abilites and the multiple win conditions. It does rely on players doing their job and starting fights with players in the lead to take regions and deny then resources.

Now I just need to play as Purple 🙂

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