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Subject: First play opinions rss

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Paul Grogan
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After two days of checking the rules and attempting a solo game, I finally got BH to the table at a charity 24 hour event. Three of us played, all of whom like heavy euro games, and this being "a complex economic game" seemed like our cup of tea.

However... it was a bit disappointing.

The blind bidding has been discussed in a number of places, I knew it would be a problem, and it was. But it wasn't just that - I guess we were expecting a heavy economic simulation, but it was mainly just about secret bidding on ships and contracts to try and get them to match. So many of the spaces were "winner gets it, loser gets nothing", that you couldn't really plan ahead too much.

The price of goods fluctuating so much too felt that unless you went on the space that allowed manipulation of prices, it was basically random what you got - it could be rubbish, it could be great.

The VP system of Prestige * money felt odd to all of us. I had a runaway victory due to getting up to about 21 prestige somehow, and then just getting money. Winning score was 1,344 compared to about 600 of 2nd place.

All I did was that I managed to pick up some buildings early on (lucky on my winning bid (with the 2nd highest bidder getting nothing). Then I built some bollards and managed to get three decent ships docked at the same time. This, combined with a couple of other buildings, got me up to 21 prestige.


The starting prestige seemed pointless, since it will generally go higher as the game goes on. So you grab a couple of nice ships early and get your prestige up to say 7-8, it means nothing really, since prestige only matters at the end of the game, and it should go above that easily later on in the game.

It felt like your current prestige should be VP somehow, with the watermark being used at the end for final scoring.


Component wise - very disappointed. I may be wrong here, but Caverna is my best game from Essen (and many others too), not just in the game, but component wise and everything. I've just finished a 24 gaming charity event, and Caverna got played a lot and everyone loved it.

By contrast, Bremerhaven has thin player boards, typos in the rulebook, and the cardboard components for the goods were just cheap to be honest. Everyone thought they were just bad. (apart from the passengers, which were ok). I'd already pimped the game before we played it, replacing the black, brown and green cardboard counters with proper bits.

The three boards - the odd jigsaw idea. Why not just have a normal board which folds in half? With the jigsaw bit, it kept coming apart, adding extra fiddlyness.

I know this would have added to the cost, but again, compared to Caverna..... it was just disappointing.


Gameplay wise I think we played it correct, though access to BGG helped for a few things. But we had a number of questions during the game that we couldn't find an answer to, and ended up having to flip a coin on some things. Surely these questions came up in playtesting / development - so they should be covered in the rulebook. Or maybe we missed it.
One player had a market where he could sell goods for 2 cash. When are the goods yours? Can you sell when they are still on a ship? Are they yours then? Since production happens before moving, and we ruled that the goods weren't owned until off the ship, that meant they had to sit around a turn before they could be sold, which seemed wrong, so we changed the ruling midgame. But then we queried if you could sell them when they were on a contract card. I know you cannot move them off, but selling?

Anyway, there were a few confusing bits that came up. We spent ages trying to work out about moving the goods around. Did you have to move them from space to space on the board, following the arrows. I think you don't and its just a lot simpler than that, but moving goods over buildings (which apparently you can do) didn't feel right.


The first space on the board, getting 1 cash per card seemed really weak and nobody used this all game, until at the end when I just went there with all 5 cards since I had 21 prestige and I couldn't be bothered risking a bidding war and getting nothing.


Buildings seemed too strong, and again, it had the problem of winner takes all. Winning a bid here and getting a 2-3 prestige building because you were lucky enough to play a bidding card 1 higher than the other player just seemed way too swingy. So a few times, two players bid against each other on the building, and the loser just ended up wasting a card or two getting nothing in return.

Same problem with the bidding for the ships and contracts. Just found it a real problem.

Surely some other bidding method would work better where you can move your bids around if they are outbid, or supplement them with money. Anything other than the guesswork of placing face down cards. Games that have this bidding method (Amun-Re, League of Six, etc) they all really work well. Maybe they are just more suited to us.


I know in the forums where open bidding was discussed and it was said that this was tried, but it wasn't 'fun'. Well, blind bidding really isn't 'fun', when you are wanting a complex economic game. Especially on the turns where you get hardly anything, fail to do a contract because you didn't get the ship you needed, miss out on a sale and get slapped with a penalty, whilst you watch the other player get what they wanted, get goods, deliver contracts, etc. Just because your card was 1 less than theirs. You get nothing for it, and the card that you played was wasted.

Maybe some kind of compensation on these spaces for the players who put cards in but didn't gain anything?


I know this is all a bit negative, but its an honest summary of how we felt after the game. Will try and get it to the table again - maybe we got something wrong, or maybe that's just what the game is and it isn't for us.

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EGG Head
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I felt like it was a light pick up and deliver game with the expected problems associated with blind bidding, not the second coming of Le Havre. As such I thought the game was fine, except for some of the components being small and fiddly
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Alan How
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Thanks for a frank assessment Paul. I haven't played Bremerhaven yet, so can't comment on the gameplay except that I had (have) high hopes.
On the other hand so many games from Essen have been good so far - Caverna, Wildcatters, Russian Railroads, kohle and Kolonie, one disappointment isn't too bad.
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Mike Keller
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Hi Paul.

This sounds really negative to me cry

I also just played it Solo so far, and i dont know woh it will feel, when i got my first 4 Player game. Just some things, to point out:

1. It Sounds, like this is not your Game at all. It is not a very complex game, and it should be played "fast"... in a way of not to try to optimise everything.

2. The blind bidding: You can also put two or more Cards on one spot. If you can count a little, you can be sure of some "stuff". There is also the action of replaceing weak cards thru stronger ones.

3. The VP System: It is a bit odd, but it make Sense, also in the way, that you should not try to optimise the whole game. Once in the Game you try to get very valuble Ships in your harbour, to get high Prestige. Also the right kind of Buildings will help you. You need a good timing to do this, and once the good ships are gone away, chances are small, to get the Prestige higher again. The other factor is the Money. You need to make Money thru the whole game and store as much as possible. I think these 2 factors are quite interessting... the other thing ist the multiplicaton of the 2: its allways dangerous to multiplicate VP in a game ninja

The material IS cheap, and i also would like to have littel cubes and figures instead of the cardboard. It would make the game more expensive and so less people would buy it...

Anyway, i hope you get it on the Table again and give it another try... dont take it too serius and just have fun with it.

Cheers Mike

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Bill Gallagher
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My group was disappointed in the game (we actually called it prior to completion). Our biggest gripe was having to wait for the timer to expire before trucks (that we had filled for several turns) pulled out.

This meant constant battles over the build space. Typically, we could build only one (when the high bid is in the teens, that makes the second one cost prohibitive).
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Paul Grogan
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Yuglooc wrote:
My group was disappointed in the game (we actually called it prior to completion). Our biggest gripe was having to wait for the timer to expire before trucks (that we had filled for several turns) pulled out.

This meant constant battles over the build space. Typically, we could build only one (when the high bid is in the teens, that makes the second one cost prohibitive).


Yeah, that bugged me too. The truck has all the goods it needs, but still sits there. Whether thematic, or in the game for a reason, it just didn't work. I can understand the time limit to do it, but it should leave as soon as it has all the goods - that would just make a lot more sense.


We also found the same with the build space - people were generally only able to do 1 thing, but IIRC that one thing was normally just about enough.
 
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