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Mare Nostrum RP (The Conquerors Version)
||Build and Destroy
|Number of players:
The Age of Kings: The Conquerors Expansion Version
ABOUT THE SCENARIO:
Are you tired of being rushed, trushed and grfhrushed by ungentlemanly n00bs? Are you tired of the repetitive, harsh nature of Castle Blood, and the braindead slaughter of michi? Then this is a multiplayer scenario for you!
Inspired in particular by "Seas of Egressa", "Mare Nostrum" (from the old Roman name for the Mediterranean, "our sea") is a roleplay-driven build-and-destroy scenario, similar to your standard random map but with some key differences. You will assume the role of one of seven national leaders, three major and four minor, and you must guide your nation to glory through whatever means you see fit: diplomacy, trade and naval and land-based warfare. There are also rules for all players to follow: rules that govern declarations of war, handling diplomacy, and more. These rules will be enforced by the players themselves and not by a rigid set of triggers, allowing for more fluid gameplay; the host will of course have the option to boot any player who simply disregards the rules, but other than that it is up to the players to enforce and abide by the rules.
The scenario is set on a giant map, and some extra tidbits have been changed if you compare it to the map, or scenario 4 in "The Relics of Athalën": several small islands have been added to the Inner Sea and Southern Ocean to make gameplay more varied and allow for colonization and more conflicts for resources. The design of Yellowside and other locations has naturally been simplified.
The scenario centers on the Inner Sea and its surrounding regions, and it is set in the same universe as the Gwyndlegard series. All nations are at peace at the start of the scenario, but several hotbeds exist that may lead to conflict. You may then pursue each nation's interests however you see fit, forging alliances, inciting rebellion and shifting the balance of power in your favour.
THE PLAYERS & THEIR OBJECTIVES:
The three great powers:
Player 1: Amaria; Saracens: controls the Straits of Ezul, the only passage into the trade center of the world: the Inner Sea. Amaria controls the island of Yellowside as a puppet and wants to preserve the status quo in the region: they want to stop the Arthalian southward expansion and solidify their naval supremacy by colonizing all islands in the region.
Player 2: Arthalien; Mongols: has a long-standing claim to the throne of its southern neighbour, Seragon, which it wants to pursue at all costs. They want a port on the shores of the Southern Ocean to get around the Amarian-controlled bottleneck at Ezul. They view the Amarians as their primary rivals, and the South Ondorians with suspicion. They also see a potential ally in Yellowside as both nations hold grudges against the Amarians, and with Yellowside's help they could end up breaking Amaria's hold on the Inner Sea.
Player 3: South Ondoria; Goths: has no immediate enemies in the area, nor any claim to the Inner Sea territories. Their primary concerns are that Seragon should remain independent, as they want a buffer state against Amaria and don't want a war on their borders, and with expansion into the uninhabited desert between them and Arthalien, a no-man's-land claimed by both countries.
... and the four minor powers:
Player 4: Yellowside; Byzantines: situated in the middle of the Inner Sea, they have every potential of becoming its sole ruler. They are currently in a forced alliance with Amaria, an alliance they intend to break whenever they get the opportunity.
Player 5: Berydia; Vikings: located on the western shores of the Inner Sea, Berydia is far away from the hotbeds of conflict. They have access to the sea, but no starting navy. To the north and south are unihabited lands, and off the coast are resource-rich islands waiting to be colonized. If the Berydians can get there before the Yelonese or Amarians, they too might become a naval power with their quick longships.
Player 6: Seragon; Turks: a relatively weak citystate crammed in between the greater nations of Amaria, Arthalien and South Ondoria, Seragon has stood the test of time due to the regional balance of power more than anything else. Now they face forced subordination or an all-out war. They must align with one of the great powers and turn their backs on the other two, and hope to the gods that their decision was wise.
Player 7: Gwyndlegard; Celts: situated at the far east corner of the map, one of the southernmost towns of Gwyndlegard makes it into this scenario! With vast woodlands at their command they can export what they gather to the poorly forested nations of the south, and thus make up for their lack of gold. As the country is allied to both Arthalien and South Ondoria, and has no interest in expanding into their territory, they think they are off to a peaceful, easy ride. But should their allies declare war upon one another, Gwyndlegard might be pulled into the conflict.
Berydian fort | Yellowside | Amaria | South Ondoria | Arthalian-Ondorian border | The uninhabited west | Gwyndlegard | Mapshot! | Mapshot with national borders and claims
|Author||Reviews ( All | Comments Only | Reviews Only )|
Mare Nostrum by Lord Basse is one of the premier multiplayer scenarios on the AoKH blacksmith, and an excellent testament to his ability to produce high-quality content in both the singleplayer and multiplayer spheres. This scenario is no exception to the iconic design style that he has graced us with for the past many years, and expands upon the story that he has already created us in the Gwyndlegard universe, taking us to a place that you might recognize from scenario 4 of his 'The Relics of Athalen' campaign.
This scenario truly merits a perfect score in the playability category. I have played this scenario about 20 times with various groups of people, and had plenty of fun each time. There are 7 playable factions, each offering a different and interesting path to success in this scenario. Suffice it to say that every game is different, as is every faction. There is a loosely outlined set of guidelines that are meant to guide the players on what their actions might be based on the story, but by no means is it compulsive to follow. The players are free to make whatever alliances they wish or pursue any set of actions, making for an interesting result each time.
The balance of this map has been a little dicey at times, but Lord Basse has taken everyone's feedback into consideration and improved the balance with each update. There are three major civs that have stronger starts than the four minor civs. That may look like a balance problem at first glance, but it actually isn't, due to the ways the players are set up. Gwyndlegard, for example, has one of the best late game armies in the game, but are balanced by their slower start and smaller amount of land. Berydia has a slow start and a lackluster late game army, but is balanced by having the best navy and some of the best land in the game. Yellowside and Seragon might seem to be disadvantaged by a lack of wood, but in nearly every game I've played, they've been allowed to cut wood in the north and east, respectively, or make deals for wood. Yellowside's start is slow, but the fact that they don't really need a land army means that they can go all out on the water with more ships. Seragon's start is likewise slow, but the Turkish late game juggernaut on land is incredibly strong and only largely dependent on food and gold. Arthalien's combination of a strong start, large amount of land, and late game strength was a balance problem in the early versions of the map, but they have since been nerfed and I'd consider them pretty balanced now. The Mameluke-Siege Onager combo can present a balance problem in the late game, but is balanced by Amaria's precarious position on the map and vulnerability on all fronts. With regard to naval warfare, the map is perfectly balanced, though if the Viking player masses enough longboats they will rule the water and even be able to raze castles. I don't find this too much of an issue, however, as it helps make up for the dreadful weakness they have on the land in the post-Imperial wars inherent to RP gameplay. The Goth player used to have issues due to a combination of the disabling of UT Perfusion and Bombard Cannons (which are necessary to deal with enemy Siege Onagers), but I feel that Onagers can deal with Heavy Scorpion and Cannoneer masses, and their position is quite defensible anyway. In general I hate Siege Onagers in RP games because I feel they break the warfare, but that's a personal opinion. I think the biggest issue is the shortage of wood for the Byzantine and Turk players, should they not be allowed to gain a foothold on the land. This is the most problematic bit balance-wise, but not nearly enough to hurt the gameplay, as they can exchange a wealth of other resources at the Market or make deals with other players.
Lord Basse's typically high level of creativity manifests itself in several forms in this map, whether it be the universe that he has created, the design of the map itself, or the motives of the players. The timer "full moon" system is a nice touch, as is the role of each nation's leaders, or the independence/revolt mechanics for certain players. Anyone who watched the ZeroEmpires stream of our game on this map will know of the killer wolves, and the map and game as a whole is very novel. Well done.
Map Design: 5++
I doubt I've ever reviewed one of Lord Basse's scenarios and given it less than a 5 in map design, so this score shouldn't surprise you. This is, in my opinion, the strongest part of the scenario. Lord Basse has applied his considerable skill to create realistic forests, mountain passes, seas, cities, towns, rivers, deserts, marshes, and much more. I can wholeheartedly say that the worst part of the scenario is having to deforest this beautiful map and cover it with military buildings in preparation for war. This is one of his finest works to date, and on that note seamlessly picks up where 'The Relics of Athalen' left off.
Included with the scenario you will find a PDF with pages on pages of backstory and information on the region. Though this has become typical of his work, it is nonetheless an excellent touch and a great relief that a designer cares so much about putting a good story out there. The Objectives, Hints, and Scouts are also full of nice info, making the motives of each player very clear- for a first-timer, this scenario is definitely not hard to understand. Great work!
An excellent scenario and a worthwhile download for sure, Mare Nostrum is the equal of such other classics as Serva RP, The Seas of Egressa, and Silent Evil. This is an imperative addition to any multiplayer player's custom scenario library. Cheers to Lord Basse for providing us with this gem.
One thing I did notice though- if you plan on updating, be sure to use triggers to research the Bombard Tower techs for the civs that get them, since otherwise they might waste a hefty amount of resources on a tech that is useless in this scenario.
[Edited on 08/04/15 @ 04:19 PM]
Mare Nostrum is a Multiplayer RP/Diplomacy scenario made by Lord Basse that is available for both the Conquerors and HD version of Age of Empires. The scenario is set in the Inner Sea, which is visited in Lord Basse's critically acclaimed campaign The Relics of Athalen, and is part of the popular Gwyndlegard Series.
The scenario is highly enjoyable, and suits a variety of different playing styles. The main idea of the scenario focuses on Diplomacy and Conquest, allying with some players whilst conquering others. The scenario comes with a set of guidelines to inform the player what their nation's actions might be based on the story, but the player has no need to follow them, and can players however they wish. Whilst playing Mare Nostrum, I had an incredible amount of fun. I played for close to three hours and didn't want to stop playing at all, until I eventually had to. I came across no bugs in the scenario either.
The game is very well balanced. It suits every player’s preferable playing style, which means players can play exactly how they wish to play without having to worry about whether they're doing it right or wrong. Whilst there have been some complaints about the balance from other players, I found no real issues that were bad enough to damage the score of this review. I didn't come across anything that was so bad balance wise when I played. Every player starts with their own unique nation which includes some form of settlement, and army. It's pot luck what you get, but every nation has its own pro and cons.
While the idea of a diplomatic RP scenario is not a new one, Mare Nostrum itself is filled with typical Lord Basse creativity. I always think, 'Is there anything this guy can't do in AOK?' Mare Nostrum inspired by the Seas of Egressa, which itself is inspired by Serva RP. I love the whole Full moon system in the scenario, as well as the whole diplomacy/conquest idea. The scenario has a creative backstory, with history of the nations and guidelines as to how they would act, which is a nice creative touch and fitting into the universe in which it is set.
Map Design: 5
Mare Nostrum is set in the Inner Sea, an area that is first seen on a much smaller scale in The Relics of Athalen. For this scenario it has been expanded onto a giant map, and is split into 6 nations that surround the Inner Sea, as well as the island of Yellowside in the centre of the sea. Each nation has it own unique architecture which fits into the nation’s backstory and culture. The map has an incredibly beautiful design, complete with amazing terrain mixing, and a beautiful use of elevation, GAIA objects and eye-candy. The settlements are very pretty with a nice design that is spaced out well and fits together nicely with the open environment outside them. Being a coastal scenario and set around the sea, the water is mixed well and looks great, considering not much can be done with just three water terrains. Nothing in the map design is too overdone, but is also not too simple and minimalist.
The scenario comes with a great load of in depth backstory to each of the nation’s surround the Inner Sea. The backstory is great, and a nice interesting touch into the history and cultures of the nations of the known world, and a great addition to the whole story of the Gwyndlegard Series. The scenario comes with guidelines that tell the player what actions their nation would take if they followed the back story, which is nice touch and could potentially be helpful to the player, but they have no need to follow them, if they don't want to. The instructions are clear and it is not hard to understand the objectives of the scenario.
An absolutely incredible scenario that I believe you all should download and play right now. A truly great multiplayer scenario and an awesome way to wrap up the Gwyndlegard series as a whole. A well recommended download.
Thanks so much for this gem Lord Basse