Saturday, June 16, 2012

Le Havre

'Le Havre at it!

Hey Geekshelfers, settle down and let me tell you about a boardgame i've played recently.  

It's called Le Havre and it's a worker placement game where you collect goods, buy buildings, build ships and essentially try to earn more money at the end of the game than your opponents!  

to Havre or Havre not!
A game turn is actually very simple.  Goods arrive on the offer spaces each turn and you can either swipe  one type of good (fish, wood, clay, iron, etc.)....
Starting setup for the short, two player game
....Or you can place your pawn on a building and take its action.   There are many different buildings that you can buy (using cash) or build (using the goods resources such as wood or steel).  

Using a building lets you upgrade your goods.  In the example below, I used the Abattoir to convert some cattle into meat which allows me to feed 3 workers and also get hide.  Food is VERY important in this game because you have come up with increasing amounts of it to feed your workforce as the game goes on.

Coming up short on food means you need to spend money or take out a loan from the bank.  BIG NO NO!
Using the Abattoir to convert Cattle to meat.  YUM!
As an additional action, you can also buy buildings which allow you to use them without having to pay an entrance fee.  Another player who wishes to go into a building that you own needs to pay you the amount on the top right corner of the card (either in food or money).

Here are my buildings during mid game:
All my buildings, yo.
You can specialize in certain goods but it's generally a good idea to be a bit flexible and get several types so you don't get screwed in the long run.
A variety of goods.  Yeah, you'll be needing these.
As the game progresses, it's also worth noting that ships are VERY important.  Not only do they reduce the amount of food you need to feed your workers, they also allow you to ship your goods for extra cash (victory points)!
Joy builds a luxury liner.  
 At the end of the game, I ended up becoming a steel ship baron:
I become a steel ship baron!
 Le Havre is a pretty slick game.  Those (including me) who felt that Agricola was just too punishing and stressful will have a better time playing this.  The game gives you time to actually build your economic engine and see it set sail for a bit before the game ends.

It's also a little less punishing to the player if they're unable to feed workers.  In short, it's not very hard to recover from a few starving workers if you take out a loan from the bank or sell off a marginally useless building.

The only downsides to the game are the slight fiddliness of the goods tiles (which you can avoid by using small containers-see first picture) and the possible length and brain burn due to players with analysis paralysis.

All in all, I highly recommend Le Havre. The new reprint is also great because it includes the Grand Hameau expansion.  Check it out if you get the chance!

Le Havre on BoardgameGeek

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