I played my first game of Mare Nostrum yesterday. Johanna wanted to play, as she’s (like me) a big fan of the Civilization computer game. As there were only two of us, we both had to play two civilizations to get enough players. I chose Carthage and Babylonia, Johanna had Rome and Egypt. I knew Caesar and Cleopatra had some action back in those days, which would explain their steady alliance in this game, but I didn’t know that Hannibal and Hammurabi had an affair…
It sure was great fun! The game started with steady growth. Babylonia grew to collect lots of commodities while Egypt became the land of cities and tax income. Rome and Carthage were bit behind. Soon all the caravans and cities were used and war couldn’t be avoided. Rome attacked Carthage and invaded one province, but didn’t progress further. Babylonia and Egypt kept their pace and built their first wonders on the same turn.
I was speculating about attacking Egypt as at that pace, Egypt would win the game as it was able to build a new wonder each turn. Rome reacted and attacked Babylonia, so Babylonia never attacked Egypt properly. It didn’t take long before Johanna’s Egypt had won the game. The whole game took us about 2.5 hours, played at rather relaxed pace.
The system seems to work quite nicely and it isn’t too heavy, there’s a good feel of Civilization and the game is definitely fun. Our two/four player game was perhaps a bit untypical with it’s rather strong alliances, but it was great fun and I’m looking forward to playing Mare Nostrum with Johanna every now and then when we have few hours to spend. I’m curious to see how the end game work with more players, but I think Mare Nostrum is a good two player game as well. The box says it’s for 3-5 players only, but you just have to be a bit creative! Don’t let artificial limitations spoil your fun!