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Optional 2 player variant (I think its from Atlas expansion) with barbarian AI, 2 Punic Wars - Rome vs Carthage. Beautiful components. Simple game play, but decent depth. Similar feel to A Game of Thrones the Board Game, but with an almost Kemet style leader/wonder tile market area. Trade and purchasing buildings and units is done very elegantly with the commodity chips.
Even though this game does not follow into the "4X" genre of games, because it does not have the exploring the unknown aspect, this game is and has the rugged feel of a 4x game. Mar Nostrum: Empires is reprint of its originator, Mare Nostrum (2003), with some modifications and lots more eye candy. Taking the lack of historical realities, this game has lots of thematic flavor or be an ancient chieftain growing and expanding your empire. A word of caution, trade,n to war, is your chief vehicle to victory. Oh yes, you will have to go to war for resources, but that is the nature of 'exploitation". If you love Axis and Allies or Risk, then Mare Nostrum: Empires is your next step in your marination as a gamer. On the eye candy, the game pieces are goods, but for me the soldiers should have been full standing or mounted soldiers. cna't you hear the distant callings of Conquest of the empire? Perhaps the soldier models should have differed for each ancient power. Such soldier models will be a good expansion idea with differing powers (Axis and Allies anyone?)