Let's Get Kraken!
Last night we got the "Fully Monty" six player Mare Nostrum game (with expansion). It really does add a lot. A ton of new heroes (and some re-jiggering of the old ones to rebalance it). The mythological creatures give each power another different flavor. We had Titans lobbing rocks from a safe distance, centaurs skewering legions, reborn phoenix, a few griffins and behomoths, and a marauding Kraken or two.
There's definitely more fluidity in the game. Unlike the base game, you start in striking range of your first hero. (Turn two or three), and with several players starting with military units on the board, the decision to race ahead or get defensive is interesting. The players 'on the edges' (Babylon and Atlantis) have some extra mobility (The Griffin flies; and the Kraken ... well, when he submerges he could show up anywhere.) Overall I really like the expansion, and I liked the base game.
It's not without flaws. We barely got out of DL in time (although we didn't start until around 8pm and had to explain the rules), but I suspect we'll have to set aside three hours (and leave the option for a fourth) when using the expansion. Like the base game, Mare Nostrum will happily let you drive yourself into a corner and not leave any Euro-ish "let's double score in the last round so that anyone can win!" And, like any multi-player conflict game, you have the bickering about who should attack whom. And it's never fun when the gods smite your city. [Smiting, on the other hand, is a blast].
Just for the interest of those playing last night -- the "win if you get 3 out of the four roles" rule is a variant, but I think a good one. It's difficult (at least, with five or six players), but if you get behind on the wonders it's possible and adds a tension to the game.
Chris (Atlantis), Sean (Rome), Jon (Greece), Michael (Babylon), Al (Egypt) and I (Carthage) set off to conquer the ancient world. (A task "Not unbecoming men who strove with Gods.") Jon struck first with the always popular Helen of Troy (who seduces invading legions). But in the expansion, there are lots of good heroes. I got Adonis (Get a free favor from the gods each turn) and Michael got Castor and Pollux (copy another hero once/turn). Greece doubled down with Hercules (which lets you treat a legion as though it were a mythical beast once a turn). Michael got Spartacus (Buy a legion for a single slave) while I decided to pause.
The counter-attacks were brutal. Using my favor of the gods, I had Baal destroy Michael's resources. Egypt also did some hit-and-runs with the expendable phoenix. (Like all mythical creatures, they roll six automatically. However, once they die they can be reborn for cheap, costing as much as a legion). Rome suffered horrific losses invading Greece, but managed to claim a few spaces. And poor carthage got hemmed in between Atlantis and Egypt. (One the penultimate turn, I managed to buy a single influence marker). Despite the hammering, Babylon was sitting pretty ... he used Castor and Pollux to grab Isis, which let him give everyone a resource. That gave him 8 different types, and he made sure we each had at least one type he could use to win. Then, since he was commerce director, he named a large trade. Sure enough, a ninth resource appeared.
But Jon managed to sneak in there as well, with nine taxes. (I managed to get a 3rd hero, but that doesn't win). [I prefer the 'No Kingmaking' variant where ties are just ties, unless the political leader, who determines build orders, can build out. At which point they just win outright.]
I'm sure we'll be playing this again ... I will, at least.
Labels: session report