Finally had another multiplayer day on November 17th, and we tried out Ancient Civilizations of the Inner Sea with the basic 4-player setup. We had hoped for five, but Jason had to drop out, leaving us with me, Dave, Mark and Patch. Thanks to the long skinny board, I had to put both leaves into the table, which usually isn’t needed for four.

We’d generally sat down before getting to things, and so just took the nearest power to where we ended up. Mark and I had tried it out once before, but as a whole we were unused to things and had a fair number of rules flubs which we slowly started working through as the game went on. Patch and Dave ended up out west as Gaul and Carthage respectively, and started spreading out. Patch had some over-ambitious plans on Greece at the beginning, which slowly trimmed back as he got a better grasp of his token limits. Dave spread out more slowly, but dominated the western Mediterranean, and started island hopping. Patch was the first one to build a wonder as I recall, and we all followed suit right afterward.

Mark and I reprised our earlier roles as Troy and Egypt, and I got off to the strongest start (followed by Patch). The north-edge barbarians showed up early, and swamped Asia Minor, hampering Mark as I got going. I then got swamped with Sea Peoples, and the east-edge barbarians which came up a couple of times (and helped by the fact that Egypt does touch the east edge of the map). Mark and Dave got things moving, and the scores tightened up again at the end of Epoch I, and our break for lunch.

Things may look odd there. One rules problem we never did sort through that day was competition. The main cycle is a huge over-explained paragraph, followed by three bullet points. We (mostly ‘I’) repeatedly missed the separate step right below the bullet points that says you repeat the main cycle if it’s still contested. The ‘stop’ conditions in the bullets took all the attention. So, we had lots of unresolved contests with barbarians all day, with the full set of black disks in play, and plenty of shuffling them around for the next wave of barbarians. Next time, things are going to play a lot different, though the ‘stop when everyone’s lost a token’ had interesting interactions with some of the cards which prevent token loss.

We saw a lot of the east and south-edge barbarians in the later parts of the game. Since Dave was trailing behind in score the entire time, all the south-edge barbarians were Nubians boiling into Egypt. One of his problems is that he had a fairly stable and settled position, so he had very little in the way of tokens to redeploy (sure, he could have pulled some into supply/ready to re-do, but there was little motivation to). Towards the end of the game though, he did work up a high number of cities and started making great gains in VPs (not necessarily a bad strategy…).

Time ran short, and we stopped partway through Epoch III. (We let the standard method chose if it ended on turn 2. Next time we’ll aim for a straight three-epoch game.) The last turn saw a lot of maneuvering for VPs of course, and I thought I’d done well with building up cities… and still was on the short end.

Final scores were: Patch/Gaul 57, Mark/Troy 54, Rindis/Egypt 52, Dave/Carthage 50. Everyone had a good time with the game, and I’m sure we’ll get a few repeat playings fairly soon.