I backed Mare Nostrum:Empires on Kickstarter last year on the recommendation of a friend, who had played the original years ago. When the game arrived, along with the Atlas expansion and the Buildings add on, I was excited to get it to the table.
For those that didn’t get in on the kickstarter you can rest assured that when the game is available for retail that it’s a great investment. The components are very high quality, and the map board is beautifully done. If you want to see what’s in the box, take a look at out unboxing video here. Having said that I am glad I picked up the Building add on, just to make the aesthetic of the game on the table a bit more dynamic.
The game plays in five phases, which are very well structured and the player aids are well designed for being so compact. The simplicity of these phases are why the game shines. For me a good game is playable but also strategically deep. And Mare Nostrum: Empires is just that. You collect resources, trade resources, build buildings and units, move and battle, and then change the leader track. That’s it.
The game has multiple paths to victory; through military, trade and purchasing heroes, leading each of the three advancement tracks, or building the (really expensive) Pyramids. This makes the game play versatile and very replayable. Combined with the different player powers, heroes and monuments, there’s a lot of games to be played before getting bored of this one.
All in all I’m extremely happy with this game, the resource trading seemed arbitrary and long, but later in the game became key to trying to get enough and able to afford the more expensive heroes and The Pyramids. Those pesky Pyramids act as a timer for the game, because if someone doesn’t win one of the other ways it won’t be too long before someone can collect 12 gold from their empire and build them! I liked that aspect because it stopped the game from going on too long, a problem with many Civ Builder type games. Combat was clean and the whole game felt very well tested and put together, a great, fun time!