Couple of weeks ago I described my first impressions playing the Mare Nostrum 2-player variant as Carthage. After this there were couple of comments thanking me for discovering this scenario but there were also voices claiming that this is pretty unbalanced as it is very hard to win as Rome. With that in mind I decided to test that and what you see below is session report me playing as Rome and Marcin as Carthage.
The 2-player variant
So with the Atlas expansion comes the two-player variant – which allows us to step into the boots of either Republican Rome or Carthage led by Hannibal. What is interesting, you do not need to own the copy of this add-on as Academy Games provided the rulebook (with the scenario) on their website.
Important to note is the fact, that this is not a purely one on one game. In order to make the game more interesting within the regular set of rules, there is also a third nation – Barbarians. In historical terms they represent kingdom of Macedon and nearby tribes. Whoever pays them with gold, will be able to temporarily recruit their forces. Of course, it is such a fun to use those units – you really feel that somebody else is doing your dirty work.
There are also changes to victory conditions, mainly the Conquest and Leadership – Control 4 Capital and/or Legendary Cities during one round and then hold them until the end of the next round’s Move & Battle Phase. In essence, it is not enough to successfully raid and occupy Rome or Carthage. You need also to withstand the inevitable counter-attack form the enemy.
Let us see how that game went!
The session report
We played on a small portion of the map, just enough to fit three nations – Rome (me), Carthage (Marcin) and Barbarians. With such a packed and congested territory, conflict was inevitable…
- Carthage intensively invests into economical development and colonization. Most of Africa is taken over.
- My Roman troops follow the suit, extending Roman Republic influence in the direction of Greece and Dacia.
- Of course, both sides were not able to keep such a peaceful development for too long! Three Roman coins were enough to convince bunch of Barbarians to land in North Africa. Here Carthage commits small mistake, as instead of paying them to fall back, thy attack. The battle is inconclusive and barbarians manage to keep the bridgehead, advance and pillage some markets and caravans. Painful hit for the Punic economy.
- Being distracted by the barbarians, Carthage is not able to foresee and than block the Roman contingent landing in Egypt.
- At this moment in time the game is finished. Rome takes lead (dominance) on all three tracks – military / economy / culture. I am winning without single battle with Marcin, all achieved by pillaging and marauding barbarians.
That was the exemplary application of the divide and conquer strategy, where using others (barbarians) I was able to pursue my goals. Of course, that was fueled by strong economy – as mercenaries costs fortune! I think Marcin and me managed to familiarize with the game and that variant enough for now. We are yearning to play 5 player version now!