Ora et Labora » Reviews » Game for two: Ora et Labora - a really good week

Author: godunow
Last week I have purchased two games: Homesteaders and Ora et Labora.

First my wife saw cow meeple from Homesteaders and we had to play that one. We both enjoyed it very much - I was so impressed with the game I wrote my first mini-review on BGG. Here you can check out my thoughts on playing Homesteaders with 2 players:

Game for two: If I was to design a game, I would design Homesteaders.

It is a great game, so great that I wanted it to be 'bigger', to last longer. And then, after few plays I said: lets open the other one.

First look was like: Err.. 4 manuals ? After a moment it seems logical (quick start, manual, setup info and building index), but it can scare you when you see it. Strangely enough, 'Advanced manual' seemed more clear than the 'Quick intro'. However going through it after clean beauty of Homesteaders manual wasn't really a pleasure.

But the game itself is pretty straightforward - you can explain the rules to new player in just few minutes. Quality of components is good - only exception are player aid cards - they are done on very thin paper - same as manual.

As we play with 2 that is what I find most important. And it was great - no dummy players, no strange rules - game that just works.
Move the production wheel - take two actions - repeat.

As I read the rules big smile appeared on my face - that was what I wished for - bigger version of Homesteaders. I played only the short variant, still to try longer version and play with more players. But what I noticed from just reading the rules (and what I find very important), it seems that 2-player game may be the best way to play it - with all the choices from other variants, but with most streamlined gameplay.

This game seems to fix some aesthetic problem I had with Agricola - with its small improvements, large improvements, helpers, actions - with complexity killing some fun. Ora et Labora retains its depth, having gameplay much more streamlined. And as I feared Agricola expansions ("More helpers? Why?"), here I cant wait to have one printed. I also have ordered Le Havre, which I heard is more like Ora than Agricola, and has theme that is more appealing to me.

Ora et Labora is definately getting 9 out of 10 for me (and also my wife - we dont often agree as much as this week ).
Wed Apr 4, 2012 8:21 am
Author: Orangemoose
Thanks for putting this together.
Thu Apr 5, 2012 12:27 am
Author: joostkleppe
it seems that 2-player game may be the best way to play it - with all the choices from other variants, but with most streamlined gameplay.

I would say 3 players is the best for this game: only 1 action each turn (except for the starting player)and a fixed ending. Moves even quicker than with 2. Better interaction.

Funny that people find Agricola harder to learn than O&L. True, the rules for O&L are simpler, but for me they are a lot less intuitive ('natural') than those of Agricola. (With the exception of the major improvements. You need to know those..)

And Agricola with 2 is just super.. ;-)
Sun Apr 8, 2012 11:25 am
Author: clydeiii
Love Agricola with two! And I want more "helpers" too!
Sun Apr 8, 2012 2:55 pm
Author: godunow
Dont get me wrong - I like Agricola very much - I just like OeL more
And this weekend I have tried Le Havre at last, which I like even more (getting to know Le Havre made me lower OeL rating a bit). Uwe Rosenberg is one of my favourite designers - I will have to try At the Gates of Loyang now
Tue Apr 10, 2012 10:06 am
Author: inuitmyth909
If you like Uwe then you have got to try Bohnanza dice, it's a total blinder for any number of players but is utter perfection with two.

I'd avoid Gates of Loyang tho, it got one play with me and my wife and then never came off the shelf again. Punishing, not much fun... yuk.

Oh yes, keep an eye out for a new Uwe game, Farmerama. We have a copy heading over from Berlin, it looks fantastic.
Mon Apr 16, 2012 4:36 pm