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New Bedford» Forums » Reviews

Subject: Build Your Town For Me, I'm Going Whaling rss

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Bryan McNeely
United States
Indiana
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I've had genuine pleasure in playing both a two-player and a four-player session of the new middleweight Euro, New Bedford. I'm a sucker for games of this type that combine various mechanisms together to make a full experience. With New Bedford here, there's a strong amount of resource gathering and management for the sake of mutually building a bustling port town with your opponents. However, in addition, there's what goes on at sea that becomes the compelling point of emphasis that sets the game apart from its peers.

Unfortunately, sometimes, strong points can make other points seem dull by comparison. In both sessions I've played, though I focused good brain power on how I was to exist within New Bedford itself, I found myself being more interested in setting my ships to sail and come back with a good amount of blubbery whale loot.

It wasn't that the tile selection and placement was boring. I like nabbing things out from under my opponents' noses and using them to my own benefit, but that's not really how it works in New Bedford. In many cases, earning resources, saving them for a good amount of time, then building a particular structure in town tends to become a gift for others with no sympathy for the builder.

In New Bedford, though you purchase and erect buildings, they may hold only one worker per round. If you are the unlucky sap to not be start player AND you built something important, you're unlikely to use it for a while. Depending on the number of players, you may not take advantage of your own building for several frustrating rounds. Some may see this as strategic butter, but I and my fellow players see it as a damning effect to the builder.

I would much rather allow personally built structures to be used by the owner, but allow just one opponent to join him/her there. Finding good tiles and building your corner of town should be as fun as sailing the ships. However, it's not in my opinion.

The restrictions on how bought buildings are utilized are strangely restricting and the payment received for having someone else use your tile is weirdly low. If I build the Bank ($5 when placing a worker there), then I am essentially allowing others to gain four bucks to my one. What is the advantage to building your own buildings that are usable by all, but rarely by yourself? In my four-player jaunt, I only bought victory point tiles; ones that provide ME with benefits and NOTHING to anyone else. Coincidentally, I won.

It was close, however. Thanks to the interesting manner by which whaling works, the late-showing sperm whale and some unfortunate empty sea tile pulls benefitted those who chose to sail more often than I. The tension and stress that comes with good Euros exists within New Bedford, but only halfway through. The whaling track is a great example of thematically fitting mechanisms that are fun to play, but nerve-wracking to experience.

You see your ship slowly return home. You know you've a lot of whales to pay for. You know you need X-amount of dollars to justify catching that many. Will you do it? Is there time? THAT'S great about the game. Building the structures, though, is something I've decided to abandon for the most part and focus more on singular routes of victory.

Changes That Come To Mind

In a four-player game, reduce the number of tiles available from the get-go to half. I even thought something like Players X 2 + 2. Make the town building aspect take a seat behind the more fun whaling part.

Worker placement games tend to have ways to generate more workers. New Bedford seems to have a single tile that will allow extra placement of workers, but only one player per round potentially. With the way that start player travels clockwise around the board, you can predict when you'll be able to use good tiles for yourself. If there were a location on the main board that will supply one resource, for example, but also the ability to maintain or snatch the start player marker, it would change the entire dynamic of the game from a tile standpoint.

I wouldn't be so afraid to build anything, nor would I have to build something as the last player in a round before getting start player the next...so I can use the freakin' thing I bought myself. Agricola handles this very, very well and New Bedford could use a similar mechanism for shaking up the start player order.

Seems to me that grabbing guys from the Pub or local drinker's hangout would allow for more of an engine-building focus in the game. I never quite feel as if I've done what I've wanted to do in the game. It's typically a sense of being left with making the best of the two workers I've got and perhaps using the buildings I paid for myself a couple times.

- Remove the one-worker restriction on user-built structures for the owner. One opponent and one owner may use a structure per round.

- Limit the number of tiles that are available from game to game. New Bedford could use some random elements beyond the whaling and I would be certainly fine with not seeing the Bank be built by some poor soul who doesn't realize he/she will likely not use it as much as his/her opponents. Too many choices of buildings for what's allowable by their use.

- Two workers per round maximum is a frustrating cap. Add a hangout location where players' extra guys (one or two would do) could be hired for a bit of food and money. [The same stuff you need for whaling... choices, choices...]

- The option to steal the start player marker should have been in the game from the start, not added in the expansion. It would be a great place to send a worker to receive a single resource, but the start marker as well.


---------------

All-in-all, New Bedford is a nice game that doesn't have the polish that more standard Euros have. It sits nicely in that "I enjoy it, but I don't know if I like it" sort of realm. The duality of the main mechanisms offers a superficial brand of variety, but really, the fun I experienced and the far lesser amounts of frustration occurred with the whaling as opposed to the town building.

As far as I'm concerned, my next game will be like my last: nab victory point tiles that act as boosts for my whaling, because that's what I'll be doing the most. I'll let everyone else jockey for building the resource generators and I'll just end up using what they build.

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Dan
New Zealand
Auckland
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I am following this game with some interest. Hopefully it won't be a game where you have buy expansions to make it really shine.

Regarding the low benefit of building buildings, it would be interesting to know what would happen if no one builds. Does that then make building more profitable? From your review, it sounds like this game may lend itself well to BGG variants or house rules.

Interested to see other people's opinions in the comments.
 
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Nat Levan
United States
Glenside
Pennsylvania
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Hast ye seen the White Whale?
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Thanks for the review!

Yeah, bonus buildings are a good indicator of who will win, if you're able to nab two of them.
You're absolutely right that other players will have more chances to use your buildings first than you will. I like that phrase "strategic butter". While Agricola was a big influence, my intent was really to go a different direction, so that you gain a benefit by adding something to play, rather than taking something out of play.
Would love to see how your strategies change after another game with the same group. Thanks for playing!
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Nat Levan
United States
Glenside
Pennsylvania
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djn1981 wrote:
Regarding the low benefit of building buildings, it would be interesting to know what would happen if no one builds. Does that then make building more profitable?


My observation is that if people don't build much, scores come out a bit lower, say below 20. If you build just a few buildings, you should come out a few points ahead, as everyone pays you to use the buildings and you get the point for the building. And in general, the more people use buildings, the higher the scores. Because if you and an opponent each use each other's building in a round, you've each gained more resources with no net change in money. You'll do better colluding than a player who ignores you.
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Steve Herron
United States
Johnson City
Tennessee
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Never play block wargames with a dentist, they have those little mirrors to peek behind the block.
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I would have added ,Jennings at the end of the title of the article to make a pun.
 
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Tony Graham
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I love going whaling in this game! I do build a few buildings that are helpful to my whaling efforts. I have the game and we have played a ton. One game my youngest boy focuses entirely on building and snatching up whales that others couldn't afford and can comes close to winning. 2 point difference. He snagged the building that gives you a building bonus plus he bought the buildings he knew others needed so he made up to four to six coins a around in the later stages. He then used that coin to snag whales others couldn't afford. With getting one point per building at the end of the game plus a point for every two buildings built and then the points he snags because other whalers don't plan well, he made it close. If I ever have bad luck drawing whales he will easily beat me. So I think there is advantages to building buildings and there is much more strategy to this game than you give credit. Just my thoughts. Oh, next game we are adding the promo pack.
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Joel Stair
United States
Macon Area
Georgia
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Ive played 4 time 3 three play games and 1 4player games
we all had fun each time and have not even touched the Expansion.

I love euro games
and this one is very nice.

I did the kickstater and its well worth it.

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Kevin Bold

Colorado
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Your observations about the "building" option having frustrating mechanics compared to "whaling" led me to create a game variant called Dice Don't Really Hate Me After All which can be found in the Variants forum. It adds the ability to use a building right after purchase in a very limited way. Will need some play testing to assure that it doesn't tip the scale too far in the other direction. The variant was presented as a 5 player variant and would need some modifying for fewer players.
 
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Carsten
Germany
Schkeuditz
Sachsen
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A very good review. A had the same feeling about most parts after my fist play yesterday. All of us also really disliked the building which lets you sell sea-tiles. This generates a lot of money (most of the time for the first player) and removes some of the tension when going for the whales.
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Adam Smith
United States
Lake Elmo
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My wife kicked my tail last night. She sent a vessel far out to sea early and then focused on building and money accumulation thereafter. 25-9, I feel she may have been a business owner in another life.
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