Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Civilization, in two hours this time

Us working slobs met yesterday evening at Dragon's Lair. Michael and I started out with Roma, and then I taught Al while Michael got food. Then we played San Marco (which I had only played once, something like 7 years ago). Jeff had arrived, at this point I pulled out Mare Nostrum (the original "Civ in 2 Hours" game).

Old "Horse Nose" does manage to get all the key aspects. You have trading, advances (heroes & wonders), and a military system that you have to use, but don't want to invest too much in. And it's purty.

The basic idea is simple -- Get income, trade, buy, fight. But apart from income, each phase has a 'leader.' And the leader sets the pace. How many cards does everyone have to trade (trading is mandatory)? The Directory of Commerce decides. Who gets first shot at purchasing (which matters in a tightly counter/card limited game, and also forces people to reveal their military hand)? Political leader chooses order. Who moves and fights first (and last)? That's up to the military leader. Each of those leadership positions can change at the end of each turn (measured like "Longest Road" in settlers).

The way to win is build the four Heroes & Wonders -- first person to four gets it, but building the Pyramids is an automatic win. You buy stuff with sets of goods, and a set is either all tax cards (which you get from cities) or all different commodities. And you can't hold commodities from turn to turn.

I love Mare Nostrum, but it's a ruthless game. It doesn't care about balance -- that's your job. If someone is winning you have to stop them, there's no pansy come from behind mechanisms here. So our game went off the rails a bit, mainly because I messed up the setup. (In a four player game you are supposed to omit Babylon, not Greece). Still, at least I didn't win because of my mistake (Ben).

We played a ton of M.N. when it came out (in North Carolina), but it got put away. I've been hoping to try the expansion (which adjusts the base game, adds a sixth player, mythical units and new wonders). Now I think I'm just going to go ahead and buy it. I can't believe I've been letting this sit in the closet.

(For those who were there, the expansion modifies the starting positions as follows: Carthage starts with a legion, Greece starts with a trireme, and Rome can't build fortresses for 2, just legions. And then there's the mythic units, and offerings to the gods!)

I liked Civ, but it's an event to play. Mare Nostrum should enter the regular rotation...



At 8:14 PM, April 24, 2007, Blogger Ted Kostek said...

Sounds pretty cool. I'm looking forward to giving it a whirl.

At 8:20 AM, April 25, 2007, Blogger Ben said...

After a year of periodically suggesting playing the game, then trading it away in frustration interest finally gels for this game! Argh! Someone should pick up the expansion.

At 10:56 PM, April 25, 2007, Blogger Rob said...

I also heard great things on some podcasts way back when, but kind of lost interest after a while. WOuld like to try.


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