Mare Nostrum: Rules

MARE NOSTRUM - Rules of the game - A game by Sergé Laget

Each player steps into the role of the leader of an ancient civilization. The playing field is a map of the Mediterranean Basin divided into land provinces and sea spaces. Each province may contain a site for a city (marked by a city icon), and areas rich in certain commodities (marked by an icon for the type of commodity).
To develop their empires, the players will need to exploit these resources by constructing cities on the city sites and caravans on the commodity sites. Players will also use military might to claim new provinces - even the provinces of another player. The wealth gained through trade and conquest is re-invested in new constructions, and eventually into building the great Wonders of the World and hiring powerful Heroes. These not only bring their owners great advantages, but also pave the road to victory.

To win the game, you must be the first player to either build The Pyramids, or own a combined total of 4 Wonders of the World and/or Heroes.

* 1 Game Board representing the Mediterranean region divided into land provinces and sea spaces. Icons inside the provinces depict the resources that are produced there as well as the city sites available. The islands depicted are provinces themselves.
* 144 Cards consisting of:
    - 3 Player Role Cards: Director of Commerce, Political Leader, Military Leader.
    - 5 Civilization Specific Heroes, one for each civilization: Julius Caesar, Hannibal, Hammurabi, Pericles, and Cleopatra.
   - 6 General Heroes: Agamemnon, Archimedes, Helen of Troy, Nebuchadnezzar, Solomon, and Ulysses.
   - 7 Wonders of the World: Colossus, Hanging Gardens, Temple of Artemis, Statue of Zeus, Lighthouse, Mausoleum, the Pyramids.
   - 123 Resource Cards comprised of: 35 Tax Cards, and 88 Commodity Cards (Livestock, Grain, Fruit, Gems, Slaves, Olive Oil, Metal, Gold, Papyrus, Perfume, Fish, and Wine).
* 58 Cardboard Building Tokens representing various buildings:
   - 28 Caravans
   - 12 Markets
   - 12 Cities
   -   6 Temples
* 5 Sets of 33 Wooden Game Pieces (one set for each of 5 colours). Each set consists of:
   - 21 Military Units: 5 Triremes (an ancient boat), 8 Legions (figurines), 8 Fortresses (tall octagons).
   - 12 Influence Markers (round tokens)
* 5 Player Aid Cards, (1 for each civilization), one side showing the initial set-up of the game, the other showing a summary of the essential rules of the game.
* 8 Six-Sided Dice
* This Rule Book
Important Note: When playing your first game, you should read the entire main body of the rules before starting. These describe all of the mechanisms of play. If you encounter a situation that the rules do not seem to cover, refer to the "Examples & Questions" section of this rulebook.

Each player takes 1 set of coloured wooden pieces. All of the Resource cards are sorted and placed face up, beside the game board, to constitute the bank. Next take the appropriate number of building tokens as shown on the chart below from the box, sort them and place them beside the game board.


3 players

4 players

5 players

















Basic Set-up: Each player chooses one of 5 Starting Civilizations and the corresponding Player Aid Card and follows the Basic Set-up, the players then take their Civilization Specific Hero cards (Hannibal for Carthage, for example), and possibly a Player Role Card, if indicated in the Basic Set-up (for example, at the beginning of the game, the Rome player takes the Military Leader card) placing these cards face up in front of themselves. Referring to the Basic Set-up for their civilization, they then place the indicated number of influence markers and building tokens in the appropriate spaces on the game board.

Advanced Set-up: When the players are more experienced, each constructs their empire as they choose by adopting the free-play style of set-up. In this method, the Capital Province for each civilization is the same as in the basic set-up. However, instead of using the set starting positions for the pieces as shown on the Player Aid cards, each player now starts with 36 construction points to spend on Influence Markers, Buildings, Military Units and/or their Civilization Specific Hero (but not the General Heroes or Wonders) as they choose. The cost
for each item is the same as the number of cards it takes to buy the item on the Construction Cost Chart. Please note that all items built may be placed only in the players' Capital Provinces and the immediately adjacent provinces, and all normal construction rules apply. Also note that any Legions or Triremes built must begin in the player's Capital Province, and can then move out on the first movement phase.

Playing with less than 5: With fewer than 5 players, create neutral civilizations by placing the following on their capitals: 1 Influence Marker, 1 Legion and 1 Fortress. Also place 1 Legion and 1 Influence Marker on each province adjacent to the capital of the neutral civilization(s). These pieces are not controlled by any player. They remain in place and defend themselves if they are attacked.

With 3 or 4 players, use a smaller number of building markers (caravans, cities, markets, and temples). The starting set-up card indicates the quantity of each marker that is available. Remove the excess markers from play.

Each turn is divided into 3 parts: the Commerce Phase, the Construction Phase, and then the Military Phase. Players take their turns in a particular order (described below) during each phase, before proceeding to the next phase.

During each of these phases, one privileged player will play the role (and thus determine the turn order) indicated by one of the following special Role Cards: The Director of Commerce determines the number of cards to be traded during the Commerce Phase. The Political Leader determines the turn order during the Construction Phase, and The Military Leader determines the turn order during the Military Phase.

At the start of the game, each role (and the appropriate Role Card) is given to the player indicated on the Player Aid Card. After that, the Role Cards are reassigned at the start of each new turn as follows:
Director of Commerce: Is the player with the most caravans and markets in their provinces.
Political Leader: Is the player with the most cities and temples in their provinces.
Military Leader: Is the player with the most military units (legions, triremes, and fortresses combined) deployed on the game board.

In case of a tie between the current owner of the Role Card and another player, the current owner keeps the card. If two OTHER players are tied for the role, the current owner of the card decides which of the tied players will inherit the role.

A) Collect Revenues:
For each City marker or Caravan marker in a province under a player's influence, or occupied by a player's Legion(s), the Director of Commerce gives that player their income (Resource Cards) as follows:
* 1 Tax Card per City (2 Tax cards if there is a Temple in the province).
* 1 Commodity Card for each resource icon marked by a Caravan Token (2 if there is a Market in the province).

Important Note: If a player occupies a City with their Legion, and they want to receive the bonus gained by having a Temple in the province, that player must also occupy the Temple with a Legion. The same applies to players occupying a Caravan seeking the bonus gained by having a Market in the province. Buildings in provinces which are in the process of being converted (See "Convert the Province" in the Military Phase section) produce revenue for the original owner of the province until they are fully converted (The original owner's influence marker is replaced).

B) Trading Between the Players:
1. The Director of Commerce decides how many Resource Cards must be offered for trade. The Director of Commerce may ask for 0 cards to be traded, but may not ask for more cards to be traded than he has in his hand.
2. Each player must choose that number of Resource cards from their hand, and place them facedown in front of themselves. These are the offered trade cards. If a player does not have enough Resource cards to meet the stated offer, they may not participate in the trading this turn.
3. Once all players have completed step 2, all of the offered trade cards are simultaneously turned face up in front of each player, and trading begins:
The Director of Commerce chooses 1 offered trade card from any other player and places it face down in front of himself.
The player whose card was taken by the Director of Commerce then takes a card from another player, and so on until all of the cards have been taken by the players. Players may take cards from the player that took cards from them, but they can never take a face down card back. Also, only two trades in a row may be made between the same two players. For Example: The Director of Commerce takes an offered card from Alicia. Then Alicia takes an offered card from the Director of Commerce. Now, the Director of Commerce may not take a second offered card from Alicia - but must instead take one from a different player.  Players keep taking offered cards until the cards are gone, or only one person has offered cards remaining in front of them. At this point there are two possibilities:
a) The last card was taken and everyone finds themselves with the same number of face down cards. Each player takes these cards into their hands, and proceeds to the next phase.
b) The player from whom the last card was taken is one card short. In this case, the Director of Commerce must choose a card out of the Director's own hand (either his face down cards or the cards he has in his hand) and give it to the player who is short one card. Now proceed to the next phase.

The Political Leader chooses the order in which players may improve and expand their empires.
When it is a player's turn to expand, that player cashes in one or more Sets of Resource Cards in order to purchase Heroes, construct Buildings and Military Units, and place Influence Markers.
A set of Resource cards is composed of either:
* Tax Cards ONLY, or;
* Non-matching Resource Cards ONLY (See "Examples of Sets", in the Examples & Questions section).
Resource Cards not used to make sets must be discarded at the end of the Construction Phase, along with the used sets. However, a player is allowed to keep two Tax Cards to carry over to subsequent turns. Resource cards cashed in and/or discarded are returned to the bank. The value of a set is equal to the number of cards in the set. This value determines what sort of item can be built with that set of cards (see the rules summary on the Player Aid Cards for the construction values of each item.)

Rules for Construction:
1. Players may construct buildings and military units only in provinces in which they already have an influence marker. They may not build in an un-owned province or in an opponent's province, even if they have legions present in the province.
2. Players may place influence markers only in a province adjacent to a province which they already control at the beginning of the turn, and which is not under the influence of another player.
3. During the turn in which a player places an influence marker in a province, nothing else may be constructed in that province. The player must wait until their next turn.
4. Players may not build more than one city per site, one caravan per resource, or more than one temple, market, or fortress per province.
5. Triremes are built in the provinces (not in the sea spaces). They may be built only on island provinces, or in provinces adjacent to a sea space. They are then moved to an adjacent sea space during the Military Phase.
6. Players may not build in a province "at war" or under military occupation (see below). Exception: a player may always construct in their own Capital Province.
7. Advantages given by a Hero or Wonder are conferred immediately upon purchase.

The Military Leader decides in what order players will take turns in the Military Phase. On each player's turn, that player moves their units, immediately resolving any combats that occur.

A) Movement:
The player may move as many units as he chooses: all, some, one or none.
1. Naval Movement: The player begins by moving Triremes (if any). If they were just constructed, they move to an adjacent sea space. If already at sea, they may move to an adjacent sea space. Naval battles are NOT required when moving into an occupied sea space. However, if a player chooses to attack, that player must do so before moving any Legions, since the results from the naval battle may impact using the Triremes to move Legions.
2. Naval Battles (Optional): are conducted using the Rules for Battle detailed below, if the moving player chooses.
3. Legion Movement: The player then moves their Legions. Legions may only move to an adjacent province through a shared border, or through a chain of Triremes. For Example: A player could move one or more Legions from the Athenae Province to the Alexandria Province as long as that player had one Trireme in each of the two sea spaces that are located between these two provinces.
4. Ground Battles (Obligatory): are conducted using the Rules for Battle detailed below. Legions MUST fight when in a space occupied by opposing units (Legions or Fortresses).

B) Combat:
General Rules for Battle:
* All battles last a single round only.
* Ground units (Legions and Fortresses) may only fight ground units, and naval units (Triremes) may only fight naval units.
* Un-launched Triremes (just built, but not yet moved out to sea) cannot attack or be attacked.
* If there are no opposing ground units in the province being attacked, the invading player need not roll any dice (see below). Simply follow the rules in section 2 below "only one invading player survives".
* Fortresses: Do not roll a die for a fortress involved in the battle, as the fortress "rolls" an automatic 6. Add 6 points to the die roll sum for the owner of the fortress. Fortresses are military units (not buildings) and cannot move. Fortresses must be destroyed by the invading army before the province can be sacked, occupied or converted (see below).

1. The attacker and defender each simultaneously roll as many dice as they have legions in the contested province or triremes in the contested sea space: Sum the dice for each player (be sure to add any applicable bonuses conferred by Heroes, Wonders, Fortresses, etc.), and that player's opponent must remove one unit for every 5 points of the sum (rounding down). The owning player chooses which units to lose. For Example: The Green player has 3 Legions and is attacking the Blue Player who has 1 Legion and 1 Fortress. The Green player rolls 3 dice (6, 3, and 2) for a sum of 11. The Blue player rolls 1 die (3, +6 for the fortress) for a sum of 9. The Green player must lose 1 Unit, and the Blue player must lose 2 units. After the battle, and once losses are decided, a surviving attacker has two possibilities:

1. More than one player's Military Units (Legions, Fortresses or Triremes) survive the battle (or battles, if more than 2 players are involved): If there are military ground units (Legions and Fortresses) belonging to two (or more) players in a land province, the province is considered "At War". The invading military units remain in the province after the battle. As long as opposing units remain in the province, they must continue to fight during their subsequent Combat Phases.
If a province is "At War" during the Commerce Phase, the player in control of the influence token in the province will collect the Resource Cards as usual. However this player may not build anything in this province during the Construction Phase. Players in a province "At War" that have not yet moved when the province was invaded may move their Legions out of the province when it is their turn to move.
If there are triremes belonging to two (or more) players in a sea space, the sea space is NOT considered to be "At War", and players may still move into, out of, and transport Legions through this space freely.

2. Only one invading player survives:
The invader must choose to allocate the remaining invading legions in one of the following three ways:
a. Sack the Province: The player destroys one building in the province (a city, caravan, temple or market, but NOT a fortress.)
b. Occupy the Province: A single Legion Token may be placed on each city or caravan in the province to claim the income associated with that city or commodity. A single Legion Token may also be placed on each Market or Temple in the province in order to double income gained by another Legion in that same province.
c. Convert the Province: A single Legion Token may be placed on top of an opponent's Influence Marker in the province. During the next building phase, the invading player may construct their own influence marker to replace the existing one. The cost to construct the new marker must be paid as usual.
Please Note: It is impossible to completely remove a player from the game. The influence marker in a player's capital city may NEVER be converted, and a player may ALWAYS build in their capital, even if the province is "At War".

When any one of the players meets either of the two following victory conditions, the game ends immediately:
1. A player has built The Pyramids.
2. A player controls (has the cards for) a combined total of 4 Heroes and/or Wonders. The player's civilization specific hero DOES count towards this total.

Q: How do you use the Hero and Wonder Cards?
A: Heroes and Wonders provide some sort of special advantage to their owner (as described in full on pages 6-7 and in brief on each card). Wonders and Heroes are not placed on the board, and therefore cannot be captured or stolen. The General Heroes and all Wonders may be purchased by any player as detailed on Player Aid Sheets. However, certain Heroes are only available to a specific empire, and may not be purchased by a different empire. (Julius Caesar, for example, is only available to the Roman player.)

Q: Are there any set-up restrictions for players using the free-play setup? When spending their initial 36 points, a player may buy their national Hero and any buildings they choose, but may not buy any General Hero or any Wonder.
A: The Greek player is allowed to expand at the start to all adjacent provinces along the Aegean Sea. (Constantinopolis, Troas, Rhodus and Cnossus).

Q: If there are fewer than 5 players, which civilizations do you choose?
A: You can use any you wish, but for the most balanced play use the following civilizations:
* With 4 players, remove Babylon.
* With 3 players, remove Rome and Egypt.

General Notes on Game Play:
* Aside from the special abilities given by each of the Role cards, the leader of a phase also has the responsibility of keeping the game moving and reminding players to take their turns.
* Some Heroes add points toward calculating which player gets which Role. (Archimedes, for example, adds 2 points towards becoming the Military Leader.) Don't forget this when determining the Roles at the beginning of the turn.

(I fear the Greeks and the gifts they bring me.)
Q: If I have a caravan in Carthago, do I take 1 perfume, 1 fruit, or both?
A: Every caravan is placed on a specific resource site. To gain two commodities from Carthago, you need two caravans.

Q: If I like my cards, can I choose not to trade?
A: No, you must trade if possible. This is a cruel game…

Ending Trading Early:
If only one player is left with cards face up, that player takes back his un-traded resources. If only 2 players are left with cards face up after having exchanged two cards in a row between them, trading ends. Both players reclaim their un-traded cards.

Examples of Sets:
At the end of the Commerce Phase, a player has 3 Tax, 2 Grain, 1 Perfume, 1 Livestock, 1 Gold and 1 Slave. The player does not have a set of 6 cards (the 2 Grain cards are duplicates). However, the player may turn in 3 sets of 3 cards: 3 Tax, 1 Grain along with 2 other Commodity cards, the other Grain and 2 other Commodity cards.  The player spends these sets to purchase two legions and a trireme. There's going to be a fight!

Q: Are 2 provinces joined by a chain of triremes considered adjacent?
A: Yes, both for legion movement as well as for placing influence markers.

Q: Is it necessary (or even possible) to place influence markers in the sea?
A: No, but influence markers must be placed on islands in order to later build there.

Q: When using the advanced set-up does a player have to buy their Civilization
Specific Hero at the beginning of the game?
A: No, you may choose to spend your construction points on other things instead. However, the only player that can buy this Hero will always be that specific civilization.

(If you desire peace, prepare for war)
Situation: I build 1 Legion and 1 Trireme in Athens. I launch my fleet into the sea, and then I move the Legion into Syracusae.

Q: Can you move a Legion through several Triremes?
A: Yes, as long as the legion moves across a complete chain of its own ships. In the above example, if I also have a fleet in the Adriatic, I can move the legion all the way into Roma. Surprise!

Situation: Egypt invades the Hierosolyma province with 3 legions. In this province, the Babylonian player is defending with a fortress and 1 legion. The Egyptian player rolls 3 dice and receives a: 4, 2, and 5 = 11. The Babylonian player rolls one die: a 5. The fortress adds 6 points, so the total is 5+6=11. Both players lose 2 units.
Thinking that Babylon will counterattack, the Egyptian player decides to sack Hierosolyma. He removes the city marker from the province (the influence marker remains). This sacrilege will not go unchallenged! The advantage of sacking is that the effect is immediate and certain.
Converting or occupying a province requires you to hold that province until next turn.
Note: When calculating the Roles (Director of Commerce, Military Leader, and Political Leader) at the start of the next turn, be sure to give points to legions occupying a caravan or city INSTEAD of the owner of the province. Conquest is tricky and expensive, but very lucrative in the long run…

Situation: During the Military Phase, I get picked to move first, and I invade the Cyranae province with 2 Legions. The province is defended by only 1 Legion and it has 1 un-launched Trireme (it was just built, and my opponent has not moved yet). During my combat I eliminate the Legion, but the trireme is still left since it cannot be attacked and my opponent has not moved yet.

Q. In this situation, can I now sack, occupy or convert the province, or is the province now considered "At War" since there is still an opposing military unit in the province?
A: Since an un-launched trireme cannot be involved in combat (land or sea), in this situation it is simply ignored. You can sack, occupy or convert the province as per the normal rules. The trireme isn't destroyed (nor can it be destroyed by sacking), it simply moves out to sea on its owning player's turn.


Agamemnon: Bonus of +2 towards becoming the Director of Commerce. When roles are assigned, before each new turn of the game, add 2 to your total Caravans and Markets to determine if you are the Director of Commerce.
Archimedes: Bonus of +2 towards becoming the Military Leader. When roles are assigned, before each new turn of the game, add 2 to your total number of legions, fortresses and triremes to determine if you are the Military Leader.
Helen of Troy: Convert 1 invading Legion. Once per Military Phase, you may convert an enemy Legion that enters one of the provinces that you control to your own color.
Nebuchadnezzar: Earn 1 Resource Card from sacking. When your legions sack a province, take one Commodity card for the destroyed caravan, or one Tax card for the destroyed city.
Solomon: Bonus of +2 towards becoming the Political Leader. When roles are assigned, before each new turn of the game, add 2 to your total Cities and Temples to determine if you are the Political Leader.
Ulysses: Force a player to trade with you. Once per Commerce Phase, you may force another player who has just taken an offered card from another player, to give the card back to that player, and instead to take 1 of your offered cards of his choice.

: Take 1 extra Tax card per turn. During the Commerce Phase, when collecting Resource Cards, take 1 extra Tax Card.
Hanging Gardens: Keep 1 Commodity Card. Normally all Commodity cards are discarded at the end of the Construction Phase. You may now keep one Commodity Card from one turn to another (face down).
Temple of Artemis: Take 1 extra Commodity Card each turn. During the Commerce Phase, when collecting Resource Cards, take 1 extra Commodity Card of your choice.
Statue of Zeus: Allows you to build 2 fortresses per province. Normally a player may only build 1 fortress per province. You may now build 2 per province.
Lighthouse: Allows you to place influence markers in provinces that are not adjacent to provinces under your control. You may now place influence markers anywhere you like, as long as you follow all other rules for placing influence markers.
Mausoleum: Construction of Buildings (cities, caravans, temples and markets) costs -1. A set of only 2 cards is needed for cities and caravans, and only 5 cards are needed for temples and markets. This "reduction" does not apply towards Heroes or Wonders.
The Pyramids: Build the Pyramids and win the Game. They require a set of 12 cards to build.

Rome - Julius Caesar
: Legions and fortresses cost only 2 to build.
Carthage - Hannibal: Legions gain a bonus of +1 to each die rolled in combat.
Babylon - Hammurabi: Allows you to place one influence marker per turn at no cost.
Greece - Pericles: Triremes cost only 2 to construct, and gain a bonus of +1 on each die rolled in naval combat.
Egypt - Cleopatra: During each Construction phase, you may exchange one resource card for one tax card (or vice versa) with the Bank.

Director of Commerce
: Chosen at the start of the Commerce Phase, this is the player with the most caravans and markets on the board. The Director of Commerce determines the number of cards traded. Additionally, if, after trading is complete, a player was shorted a card, the Director of Commerce must choose a card out of the Director's own hand (newly traded cards or cards kept back) and give it to the player who was shorted.
Political Leader: Chosen at the start of the Construction Phase, this is the player with the most cities and temples on the board. The Political Leader determines the order of the players during the Construction Phase.
Military Leader: Chosen at the start of the Military Phase, this is the player with the most military units (legions, triremes, and fortresses combined) on the board. The Military Leader determines the order of the players during the Military Phase.

  3 Role Cards
21 Special Cards
  5 Civilization Specific Heroes
  6 General Heroes
  7 Wonders of the World
35 Tax Cards
  5 Perfume
  5 Papyrus
  5 Gold
  5 Gems
  7 Oil
  7 Wine
  7 Livestock
  7 Fruit
  7 Metal
  7 Grain
11 Fish
11 Slaves

This game is an old childhood dream which has matured in the mind of the author over many long years. The problem was resolving the conflict of making:
- A big game, with a lot of strategic choices, which is also playable because the rules are fairly simple, and
- A game about early civilizations that is not completely a game of confrontation and war. In Mare Nostrum, a good player maintains a balanced civilization, but carefully watches the other players' military buildup.

Ron Magin
Managing Director
Eurogames / Descartes - USA, Inc.
P.O. Box 953
Phoenixville, PA 19460
Ph# 610-917-0311
Fx# 610-917-0721


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