Ender Wiggins
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Hansa is a 2004 game by successful designer Michael Schacht. Suitable for 2-4 players, and arguably at its best with two or three, it's a pickup-and-deliver game that has players travelling in a shared ship to the various cities of the Hanseatic League, trading goods at the various ports in order to earn victory points. On your turn you can either buy or sell goods in the port you are visiting, or set up a market booth there. It's highly regarded as a very clever tactical game with straight-forward rules and tough decisions, and is a classic of the genre that you really ought to know about. Let's go find out more about Hansa!

I've scoured the personal comments and skimmed through some reviews and other articles, and carefully organized some key quotations to bring you the important things you need to know and what other people think about Hansa. The parts in bold express my own conclusions, which are then expanded upon and substantiated by the citations that follow, to give you a feel of what most people are saying on each point. Perhaps you could call this a kind of "consensus of opinion", somewhat biased because I'm the one who gets to pick the quotes to include, but overall a well-rounded and fairly objective viewpoint. So here you have it, an at-a-glance overview of some of the majority opinions that you need to know about this game.

NB: For more reviews like this, see this list.



1. The basic concept of Hansa has players trade goods using a pickup-and-deliver mechanism.
"Great 2-player pick-up-and-deliver game. Exceeded expectations." - Daniel Kearns
"Very clever pick up and deliver mechanism." - artfuldodge2
"This is a neat little game of picking up goods and delivering that is quick, simple, and fun." - True Blue Jon
"Good trading/movement game. Very in-depth." - Jason Wiebe
"Sweet, simple little trading game. Perfect little game." - David Barlowe
"Tactical set collection and pick-up & deliver game. The random distribution of the goods markers is the only element of luck." - Koert Debyser

2. Players take on the role of merchants who buy and sell goods, and set up markets, along a shipping route in Northern Europe.
"Very light shipping game, buy goods, sail around, sell goods for VPs. You have as many actions as you have money, and each round plays quickly." - Greg Williams
"Very interesting relationship between commodities. Money buys Goods. Goods buy Market Halls. Goods plus a Market Hall buy Victory Points." - Larry Winckles
"Move the ship, sell goods, collect goods, and set up markets. Classic euro, in the best ways." - Tom C.
"Very good and simple game of buying, selling and starting up commercial centres in Northern Europe's Hanseatic League." - Valdir Jorge
"Buy good, sell goods, set up market booths, move the merchant ship. Lots of choices to make here makes for a great strategy game." - Steven Robinson
"Everybody goes around the board picking up and delivering goods, but everybody goes in the same ship! Wherever the last player leaves the ship is where the next player starts. A very clever framework is built around this." - Stven Carlberg
"Hansa has players taking the role of merchants, sailing around the Hansianic Sea to buy, sell and establish market booths for trading. The amount of Talers you have dictates your movement and the actions you can take." - Mister Lookback
"Everyone takes turns moving a boat around to set up market booths and acquire goods across the map. Each person shares the one boat to get around the map which opens up a few interesting strategy options each turn." - Kevin Zuidema

3. The thematic flavour takes a back-seat role to the somewhat dry mechanics; although the redemptive qualities of the game-play compensate for this.
"It might look dry but the game is surprisingly good." - Mike Betzel
"I realize I'm in the minority here but I found this game to be very dry and abstract." - Joe Pike
"Dry." - KidJersey
"Brain burner that takes dryness to a new level." - John Farrell
"It may take place on the Scandanavian seas, but this game is dry as the Bonneville Salt-Flats!" - Thomas Eager
"It has indirect player interaction and can be a bit dry." - Aristophanes
"Mrs. Murphy finds it too dry for her taste." - Billy Murphy
"I had a hard time getting into this. The theme is bone dry." - DroppEcho
"A good game, albeit a bit dry." - Craig Berg

4. Of particular note is the extremely elegant design that features simple rules which require many challenging choices.
"Simple rules, difficult choices." - Steve Jones
"This game rocks! its amazing that such a simple game can be so fun and in depth." - Todd Anderson
"Simple rules and quick play time offering subtle strategies." - The Grouch
"The game packs a lot into its short play time." - Steven Dennis
"Simplicity and mind-numbing strategic plans. Schacht at his usual excellent form." - SH Wong
"Simple rules, simple board, many, many choices." - Doug Gray
"Beautiful game, a bright example of elegant mechanics. Few rules, a lot to think and a little piece of luck for one of my most played games." - Ignazio De Guglielmi
"Perfect when you want to play something that could be explained easily, played fast and it is not trivial." - Romain Jacques
"A logistics game with very simple rules and very clean and elegant gameplay." - nazgul_sp
"Light on rules, long on decisions and thinking. Consummate euro." - Jonny Lawless
"Simple rules, but extremely deep tactical possibilities." - Matt Nuttleman
"Simple rules offer an engaging range of options in this elegant trade game." - George Pletz
"Simple mechanics, mind boggling implications. The kind of stuff I love." - Philippe Beaudoin
"Hansa is a typical Schacht design: simple rules, easily explained, but with a surprising and fiendish depth in gameplay, and hard to master." - Maarten D. de Jong
"Another one of those "really, is that all there is to it"? games that quickly reveals hidden subtleties. We haven't tired of it yet." - Chris Armstrong

5. Hansa gives room for a great deal of clever play, that requires engaging and tough strategic decisions.
"Like a spawn between a train game and a logic puzzle, this one affords plenty of opportunity for clever play." - Matthew Baldwin
"I felt it had a bit of puzzley aspect in figuring out a good move." - Lee Fisher
"Lots of room for clever plays." - Greg Williams
"For what is a rather dry game there's enough choices on your turn to keep you 100% engaged throughout. The system is very clever, simple, smooth." - Lindsay Scholle
"The board composition changes and needs re-evaluated during every turn while available options are limited due to lack of funds creating great turn angst." - Jody Ludwick
"Clever game which requires short term decisions every turn due to rapidly changing board, yet has long term strategy as well." - Chris Kalmbacher
"Every turn is a direct one-on-one battle for positioning and resources." - Matt Nuttleman
"This is an outstanding game - from the outset you have hard decisions." - Paul Boos
"Subtley ingenious. Gets better with every play." - Dave Kudzma
"Each turn you have excruciating decisions to take. Money management is really tight." - Ken Thibodeau
"Short rules for a big gameplay. So many opportunities, so many choices and so little money. Who will take the right decision and what is the best strategy?" - Viva

6. Many of the challenging decisions players will have to make are strongly tactical in nature, making Hansa somewhat "puzzle-like" in character.
"It's difficult to make plans that extend beyond the end of your turn (but possible!)" - Daniel Holz
"It is highly tactical, but very engaging." - Paul Kidd
"Tactics more so than strategy because by the time its your turn again the board will have changed considerably so you can't plan out too far ahead but you need to understand the flow of the game make the correct tactical decsion which also allows for longer term point production." - Craig Viau
"Almost purely tactical, since there is little chance of the boat being where you need it at the start of your turn." - Randall Peek
"Love how tactical this one is." - Jonny Lawless
"Very tactical, but each turn is a nice optimization puzzle." - Doug Orleans
"It's extremely tactical, and requires both making the best of what you're given, *and* giving the next player as little as possible." - Dave Wilson

7. For some players, this will mean there is potential for analysis paralysis, although it's less of an issue than in some euro games.
"Could get painful with AP-prone players, though." - Mikko Karvonen
"A highly tactical game that's quite enjoyable as long as analysis paralysis is avoided." - Marshall P.
"Simple, fun, with the potential (very slight) for some brain-burning." - Phil Sauer
"Medium weight merely for its brainburn factor, Hansa is a simple-looking trading game that will leave you feeling oddly molested." - Just call me Erik
"Needs some thinking and calculation, but doesn't cause too much analysis paralysis." - Antti Tamminen
"There could also be moments of downtime as players can get stuck in analysis paralysis during their turn but it isn't really that big deal considering the quality of the gameplay that you get from the game." - weekee chia

8. Overall the game-play of Hansa is extremely quick and streamlined.
"Outstanding mid-weight fare --plays quickly, too." - Mike Banks
"Because there are choices to make but not too many, this game is engaging, fun and fast paced." - Big Fat Tony
"Deep, quick, and intense. What more could you ask for?" - Dave Rohrl
"It only takes about an hour with very little set up time and it plays nicely with 2 people." - Bulldozers
"Very good medium strategy game, play fast even with new players." - John Richert
"Fun and quick. Easy to teach." - Tim Burnett
"Great game which can be played within an hour!" - Willem Holthuis
"Very nice for a light, quick game." - Sami Hangaslammi
"5 minutes to explain how to play and plays very quickly." - Daniel Szukalow

9. While avoiding viciousness, there's also significant opportunity for a healthy degree of interaction.
"Has a fair amount of player interaction for a game of it's type." - David Fair
"More player interaction than I initially thought." - Justin Green
"Surprisingly fun little game, with a high screwage factor." - Tom Chappelear
"Many opportunities to screw your opponents. And get screwed as well." - Patrik Strömer
"This game is all about doing the best you can on your turn while making sure that you set up the next guy so he can't do as much on his." - Steve Blanding
"Lot of player interaction." - Steven Robinson
"It also has a bit of a screw your neighbor factor but not so much to make it no fun to play." - Melsana

10. Hansa could even prove suitable for new gamers, and as a gateway style game.
"Excellent to play with people that are new to the hobby." - Rommer Tuesta-Vilca
"Possibly a decent gateway game." - Jon Theys
"I could see Hansa fitting on shelves of family gamers or even heavy gamers that like to proselytize." - GeekInsight

11. From the perspective of design, Hansa is an outstanding Michael Schacht game, and one of his best.
"Michael Schacht produced a perfect game here. It's fast, has a beautiful board and is fun to play." - William Hunt
"Schacht's best design is this brilliant pick-up and deliver." - The Grouch
"I don't usually like games by Michael Schacht, since they tend to be dry as dust, but this one really hits the spot." - Stephen Tavener
"Michael Schacht designs some consistently solid games, that seem halfway between an abstract strategy game and a euro." - Brian Gee
"Another big hit by Michael Schacht." - Jonathan Burd
"One of Schacht's best designs in this great game of pick-up and deliver." - Brian Moore
"I don't usually enjoy Schacht-games, but Hansa is an exception." - Mikko Karvonen
"Michael Schacht`s best design so far." - Morten Løvåsen
"Schlacht signature combination of simple mechanics that interact is subtle ways." - Scott Muldoon
"Another fine Michael Schacht design that gets better with more plays." - Ken F
"The game that made me a Schacht-aholic!" - Thomas Eager

12. While playable with four, it is generally agreed to be very good with three players, and is especially outstanding as a two player game.
"Enjoy this one with two or three players. Can be random so we don't play this one with four." - Bruce Miller
"Good with any number of players and excellent with two." - Drew1365
"Outstanding as a two player game." - Tim Loomis
"More random factors was you increase the amount of players." - Kevin Wojtaszczyk
"Best with 2 or 3 players." - Onkel E.
"This makes a great 2-player game!" - Jill Reid
"Highly recommended as a two player game." - Amitar
"Plays especially well with 3, great with 2, a bit long and drawn out with 4." - Kevin Zuidema
"I really like this game with 2 players, great move counter move ability. Also is good with 3 players but with 4 the board changes to much by the time it gets back to your turn." - Jared Hageman

13. Attractive components help round out a very appealing package.
"The board is beautiful." - Sneezy96
"A wonderful production by Uberplay." - Jody Ludwick
"This is a good looking game that is also enjoyable to play." - Katie Harris
"I especially like the setting and the design of the gameboard." - Norman Petry
"Nice bits, too!" - Randall Peek
"Board artwork pleases the eye." - Stven Carlberg
"Components are pretty." - Matti Viertamo
"I also adore the high production value of the wooden pieces and old-world feel of the game map." - Hertzog
"Fun to travel all over the nicely produced map." - Bob Rademaker
"I really like the overall look of this game. The artwork is understated and the overall production is excellent." - David Tracy

14. In short, there's just a whole lot to like about Hansa!
"Many things to like about this game ... fairly easy to learn, elegant mechanics, fun decisions, moves quickly." - Tim Loomis
"Love the look, the price, the mechanics." - David Barlowe
"This is a timeless game that will always stay in my collection." - Ed Mittelstedt
"This game fits my criteria perfectly. Simple game play, not too long, wonderfully strategic. An instant hit on my list!" - Chevee Dodd
"Perfect information, simple rules, quick playing but hard to master." - Stephane Brochu
"Everything feels nice here.... package, pieces, gameplay, tactics, pace..." - Jari Jokinen
"This is very much a puzzle game that combines geography, economics and planning in a very different way than most." - Anni Foasberg
"An economic game with a number of twists, Hansa seems to get better with every play. My only regret was in not discovering this gem sooner." - Osiris Ra
"Playing this game is like eating candy. Except you don't get fat." - Schuk



The bottom line: what you need to know

Hansa has stood the test of time, and despite being nearly 10 years old, it still enjoys significant respect from those looking for a clean and elegant euro game. Michael Schacht has produced a very sleek design that has the potential to satisfy gamers today just as it did when it first appeared almost a decade ago. There may be pickup-and-deliver games that have more chrome, more complexity, and more thematic flavour, but there are very few games in this niche that can match Hansa's elegance and sharply tactical nature, where very simple rule-set is combined with a quick game-time and genuine depth of gameplay.

It may be somewhat on the dry side for some, but the qualities of gameplay more than make up for this, and the pickup-and-deliver theme ensures that it is less abstract than many other euros. While it's not at its best with four players, Hansa is an excellent three player game, and it turns into a terrific battle of wits when played with just two. Attractive components help round out what is an excellent value package.

If you enjoy a sharply tactical and quick playing euro, and particularly have a fondness for the pickup-and-deliver mechanic, then Hansa is definitely an essential game to check out. And if you do already own it, then perhaps this review will remind you just how good this sleek classic really is, and motivate you to dust it off and bring it back to the gaming table!

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mb The complete list of Ender's "What you need to know and what people think about..." reviews:
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Brian Sinclair
United States
Grand Rapids
Michigan
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Re: What you need to know and what people think about Hansa
I believe that this is an under rated fun tactical game that can be played in a very short amount of time. It also is good with 2 players.
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Steven Dennis
United States
Covington
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One of my favorite games. Too bad it's out of print.
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Ender Wiggins
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DrChek wrote:
One of my favorite games. Too bad it's out of print.

It is? It seems readily available in the Marketplace and on eBay, and quite a few online retailers have it in stock, if this link is any reliable indication:

http://www.boardgameprices.com/prices/hansa
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Matthias Wagner
Germany
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DrChek wrote:
One of my favorite games. Too bad it's out of print.


Hansa is still in print and we have multi-language copies available.
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Robert Kuster
Canada
Calgary
Alberta
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Great review, I previously owned this game but it was never that popular in our game group so I had to let it go.
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Kevin Garnica
United States
West Covina
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Great review, Ender. Although, for my money, the one that flew way "under the radar" was Mare Balticum. Absolutely love that game.

But i have always wanted to play Hansa. Maybe it's time to track down a copy...
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Kevin Shillinglaw
Canada
Kitchener
Ontario
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As with most of my games, I need to play this more!
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Blorb Plorbst
United States
Bloomington
Indiana
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I think we're all bozos on this bus.
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This was my very first "buy based on reviews alone" game. I'd love to play it more often but some folks in my game group don't enjoy pickup/deliver
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John Farrell
Australia
Rozelle
New South Wales
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I really should get this down from the shelf and play it some more!
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Scott Kovatch
United States
Pleasanton
California
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If you're still on the fence after reading this, try it out at Michael Schacht's web site:

http://www.boardgames-online.net/modules/Game_Info/info.php?...

The implementation is well done, but as tends to be the case, I find it difficult to learn a new game this way. Still, it's worth checking out.
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