Ridere, ludere, hoc est vivere.

Showing posts with label Le Havre. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Le Havre. Show all posts

Friday, December 12, 2014

The game time conundrum revisited

A couple of years ago, I looked over my game collection and sighed at the number of games that hadn't seen the attention they deserved.  I wrote a post listing games that I wanted to spend more time on, even as I realized that as long as leisure time is limited and the game collection is big, there will always be neglected games on my shelves.  It's a topic worth revisiting from time to time - both because it's interesting to see how the list has changed (and how it hasn't) and because it's helpful to look at the collection with fresh eyes and think about resurrecting a few titles that might bear dusting off and playing again.

Friday, September 5, 2014

My candidates for the 2014 Dice Tower Top 100

(c) Queen Games
Used by permission
The Dice Tower is soliciting People's Choice votes for its annual Top 100 Games.  At the risk of exposing my idiosyncratic taste in games, here are the twenty for which I voted:

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Holiday gaming

The holidays provide plenty of opportunity for gaming time with friends and family.  (Sadly, for all the gaming we did in the last week, I have no pictures.  What's wrong with me?)

(c) Lookout Games.  Used by permission
Last Friday our friend Theresa H. came over for a game.  We had several options, and when I described Le Havre (designer Uwe Rosenberg, artists Klemens Franz and Uwe Rosenberg, publisher Lookout Games [website in German]) as a "deeper version of Agricola," Theresa chose that to play.  We played the three-player shortened version, which has a few different buildings from the two-player that Kathy and I usually play.  This time Kathy really got her coal-coke-shipping engine going and made all kinds of money, but I was hot on the building strategy and constructed enough high-value buildings to eke out a win by five points.  Theresa made a good showing for her first game and had a good time.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Summer game photos

Now that summer is over, I thought I'd compile some photos of games we've played over the last three months.

The yellow plague outbreak gets away from us.
We love Pandemic, but we have such a hard time winning.  Late last June, the yellow plague took root in remote Santiago, and we neglected to deal with it until the outbreak counter reached the critical point.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

WBC 2013 Friday: Gryphon and Avalon Hill

Continuing my saga from yesterday's post...

Friday at the World Boardgaming Championships was the first day that the vendors set up shop, and my friend Keith Ferguson was eager to be there when the doors opened.  Somehow I got the Friday morning schedule wrong and missed out on competing in a morning tournament, so I went to the vendors' hall instead.  As soon as I walked in, I saw the Gaming Nomads booth with Incan Gold (designers Bruno Faidutti and Alan R. Moon, artist Matthias Catrein, publisher Gryphon), which my family had been playing using a makeshift homemade version.  For $20, it seemed reasonable to get a copy of the real thing, since it gets some play in my house.  I overheard someone ask for Salmon Run (designer Jesse Catron  artist Eric J. Carter, publisher Gryphon), which I didn't even know they had until they pulled it out from under a low shelf, so I picked that up, too.  Finally, I decided to get Pergamon (designers Stefan Dorra and Ralf zur Linde, artist Klemens Franz, publisher Gryphon Games), which has been on my wishlist for a long time but which I just never picked up until now.  So I bought three Gryphon games from the first vendor I saw.  I decided discretion was the better part of valor at that point, and turned around and walked out again before my credit card got any other bright ideas.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Multi-player games for two players

Ryan Metzler recently posted a top-ten video of his favorite multi-player games for two players - that is, games made for two or more players but that are his favorites as two-player games.  His video is both quick and informative, and I bumped up a number of games on my wishlist as a result.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Lessons Learned in Le Havre

For today's cocktail hour game, Kathy and I selected one that we both like but are still getting the hang of, the worker-placement masterpiece Le Havre (designer Uwe Rosenberg, artists Klemens Franz and Uwe Rosenberg, publisher Lookout Games [website in German]).  We've played three times before; Kathy won the first two, and I managed to win the last one.  This time we fell into a familiar pattern - Kathy kept beating me to the punch, with the knockout blow being a big shipment of leather and bread for 26 Francs.  I had some high-point buildings, plus both an iron ship and a steel ship, but it wasn't enough to overcome Kathy's strong position (including the 22-point steel mill), so she won 117 to 96.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Worker placement - comparison and contrast

My wife Kathy and I have played two worker-placement games in the past three days, and we've come to form very different opinions about the two of them.

(c) Tasty Minstrel Games
Used by permission
Friday we played Belfort (designers Bamboozle Brothers Jay Cormier and Sen-Foong Lim, artist Joshua Cappel, publisher Tasty Minstrel), which I'd put high on my wishlist based on a number of strong recommendations.  The appeal of Belfort is clear - it combines a number of Euro-game elements in a rather interesting format.  DiceHateMe Games called it the Game of the Year for 2011.  There is some area control going on, resource optimization, construction - all the things you expect in a Euro game these days.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Lambasted in Le Havre

I got home early enough from work that Kathy and I could play a substantial game today, and right away I suggested Le Havre (designer Uwe Rosenberg, artists Klemens Franz and Uwe Rosenberg, publisher Lookout Games [website in German]).  We'd played once before all the way through, and we were learning as we went along.  Kathy won last time by a rather convincing score, but this time I figured I had the major points of the game worked out and thought I'd do better.

Well, not so much, perhaps.  Today we played another shortened version of the two-player game.  (Shortened?  Really?  We still went a solid hour and a half, even though we understood the actions and got into the rhythm of the game.)  Several times I lost track of the number of turns I had left before the end of the round, or the amount of food I'd need, or the amount of energy I'd need to build a ship or take some other action crucial to my master plan.  So, much of the game for me was two steps forward, one step back.  

I jumped to a pretty substantial early lead by focusing on building the most valuable buildings I could as soon as possible, so I ended up with the Steel Mill very early in the game.  It's a great source of 22 points, but if you aren't prepared to make coke or charcoal, convert a bunch of iron, and build a steel ship or sell the steel, well, then, there's not much point to having a steel mill, now, is there?  Oh, yes, Kathy paid me to use it once ... and shipped the steel using her Shipping Line for a whopping 32 Francs in one turn.  Well, so much for my commanding lead from a 22-point building.  
Kathy's winning array of buildings.  Note her action token denying me access to the Shipping Line,
so that my hides would languish undelivered and useless on my docks.

So as you might have guessed, despite my large building construction, Kathy ended up with a huge pile of money at the end and won the game by the score of 115 to 99 - a closer margin than our first session, but still an object lesson in the fact that I still have quite a bit to learn about this wonderful game.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Discovering Le Havre

I can't remember what prompted me to look into Le Havre (designer Uwe Rosenberg, artists Klemens Franz and Uwe Rosenberg, publisher Lookout Games [website in German]), but I remember getting very interested the more I read about it.  The comment I put in my wish list was, "So highly rated, so well reviewed, by the designer of Agricola, for 1-5 players ... what's not to like?"

So I was especially excited when my beautiful, loving, game-playing wife gave me a copy of Le Havre for my birthday.  We made a point of setting aside the 5:00 cocktail hour last Friday for us to learn and play this Le Havre game that I'd heard so much about and that my wife was interested in as well, if only for the Agricola comparison (inasmuch as she has been known to farm circles around me from time to time).

We have found that the best way for the two of us to discover a new game that neither of us has played is for me to sit with the game and read the rules cover to cover to get to the point of understanding.  Then I explain  to my wife how I think the game works in what I think is a reasonably organized fashion.  We have discovered that I can do this with about a 90% reliability of getting the rules right.  Invariably I will get at least one rule wrong in the first play, sometimes more, but since we treat the first run-through as a "learning game," the stakes are low, and the consequences of screwing up a rule are usually minor.  (Well, that's my story, anyway.)

Sample resources - image posted to
boardgamegeek by Jason  Begy
Now, I will say that as I read the description on the back of the box, I was afraid I was in for a warmed-over Agricola in a different theme.  But when 5:00 arrived, I made a drink for my lovely wife, and then cracked open the box to see what I was in for.  And I found that Le Havre seems to have a very different flavor indeed.    Certainly there is still the general Euro process of taking actions, accumulating resources, using those resources to acquire things to build victory-point-generation-engines.  But the mechanisms seem very different in this game, the methodologies quite original (to me at least).

As it happens, it took me so long to learn the game, and my explanation was so confusing, that we only completed two out of the eight rounds that a two-player shortened-version game is supposed to take (which the rules claim should run about 45 minutes).  So Friday evening we pretty much got as far as figuring out the processes of the turn sequence but really didn't understand the "why" behind the different actions.  (And the rule I got wrong that first time is that I missed the wooden ship that each player gets at the start of the shortened two-player game.)

Fortunately, my lovely wife was not discouraged but inspired to suggest that we try the game again on Sunday.  And we started at 4:00 rather than 5:00, and needed only the most cursory review of rules before we were able to jump into the game with both feet.  We definitely learned a lot more in today's session about how the game seems to work.

Construction and building firms allow
players to build new buildings - image
posted to boardgamegeek by Raiko Puust
Without going into detail on the rules themselves, suffice it to say that players may on each turn essentially choose either to take raw materials of one type (as many as happen to be available at that point), or to take advantage of the action of one of the buildings that has been built in the city.  The most common such action early in the game is to use raw materials to build new buildings, which are worth points and which expand the available actions in future turns.  Some buildings yield a guaranteed number of raw materials of a certain type.  Some allow conversion of raw materials to refined materials.  The Wharf allows construction of ships.  The Shipping Line allows the shipment of raw or refined materials on ships for money (which is both currency and victory points).  Other buildings allow a variety of other actions.

There is also a decidedly Agricolesque feeding concern at the end of each round of seven turns, which motivates players to convert fish to smoked fish, grain to bread, and cattle to meat for food.  Grain and cattle can also be "multiplied" (albeit slowly).  In Le Havre, unlike Agricola, the "feeding curve" grows very quickly from one round to the next.  Ships become important, because each ship provides free food every round to offset the feeding requirement.

Shipping Line - image
posted to
by "amp (beatrix)"
But my wife discovered - faster than I did - the real value in ships:  using them with the Shipping Line to sell refined goods.  In her case, she used the Abattoir to convert cattle to meat and hides, the Tannery to convert the hides to leather, and then the Shipping Line to deliver the leather to market.  I tried to outdo her success by using the Iron Works to acquire iron, the Collier to acquire coal, the Cokery to convert coal to coke, which in turn I used in the Steel Mill to convert iron to steel.  Steel sells for a great deal more than leather (twice as much, in fact), but because I needed extra steps to make it all work, I was too late to make it come together in time before the end of our shortened game.

So my beautiful wife beat me in our first complete game of Le Havre by the convincing score of 147 to 91.  Now we both understand the game better, and I expect we'll bring Le Havre to the cocktail-hour game table many more times.