Mare Nostrum: I hardly knew thee
[This post has been edited. See the explanation here.]
MN on Mon Night
Monday night I brought Mare Nostrum. I knew getting it to the table would be an up-hill battle, but I set out with high hopes nevertheless.
After the appetizer of To Court the King, the group was deciding what to play next. Optimistically, I offered Mare Nostrum + expansion.
All-in-all, there was a lot of eye motion, fidgeting, and mumbling. Some rolled their eyes (in exasperation?); others averted their eyes (in embarrassment?); still others closed their eyes (but I think that guy was just sleeping...). Some one mumbled something about having played in the last year. Several others mumbled similar sentiments.
Some one raised the complaint that the last turn of the last game of MN took longer than 3 games of Race for the Galaxy. This statement is wild hyperbole, but it is true the last few turns took a long time.
Summarizing fidgeting, eye-motion, and accusations, Mare Nostrum was not played Monday evening.
MN in context
Extrapolating the furtiveness (to say nothing of direct challenges...), I do not see Mare Nostrum getting back to the table any time soon.
To be fair, I cannot blame anyone. A mighty river of games flows through the SABG, and any game showing the slightest flaw deserves to be quickly washed downstream to the math-trade delta. Why bother to play a game w/ any flaw when the world is saturated with untried games?
Our last game of MN took about ~4 hrs, and it had a...let me say "strange" ending. Speaking for myself, I enjoyed the last game quite a bit despite some issues. As Atlantis, I managed to build up my empire w/o being seriously attacked. There were land attacks, sea attacks, gods, trading, and more. MN provides some civ-like aspects, some military aspects, some diplomacy, some trading. There's some "attack the leader," but it's mitigated by the fact that a wonder/hero never goes away. To cap it all off, the different players have significantly different abilities. This kind of asymmetry is great when it is balanced, and MN seems to be reasonably well balanced.
While it took a while, it was also a learning game for almost everyone. I tried a variant to speed things up, but it was untested and caused a lot of confusion. People claim once the game is well known to the players it takes about 2-3 hours while still offering an epic, civ-like feeling.
While I enjoyed it a lot, it's true the game has some flaws. The ending can be strange, the trading mechanic is weird. I hear that a bad player can wreck the whole game, although in our one play that wasn't the case, IMO.
Woe is me
I enjoyed the game. A lot.
Those who didn't like the game have moved on to others.
Alas, it requires at least 4 players, and preferably 5-6. I doubt I will be able to muster this number ever again.
I suspect it will molder in my closet until I break down and consent to a trade.
Of such bitter moments is life built.
The King is dead; long live the King
Luckily, what the SABG taketh away, they also give. I doubt I can get this back to the table, but I know that many other games await me. Before Mon, I had never even heard of Fast Food, and it turned out to be a lot of fun.
Anyone want to play Combat Commander? I still want to try Thurn and Taxis. Then there's my (soon to be) painted BL set. Then there's the latest civ game out there: Through The Ages.
Summing up, I am left with but two parting words: