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Subject: Harbour: Not quite what I was expecting rss

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Dave Kudzma
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I was fortunate enough for TMG to provide me with a copy of the POD version of Harbour. There have been plenty of reviews, so I'm going to try and put my own spin on things.

When I opened everything up I was immediately struck, like many, that this has a distinctly Le Havre feel.. It has buildings you can obtain, and many do resource conversion, but honestly that's where the similarities end. It wouldn't even be fair to call it "Le Havre Junior" because the games are worlds apart, thanks to the market mechanism.

I mentioned the market, and that's where the main source of tension is in the game; or ire (you'll have to take your pick when you play). The price of the good in the market is also the number of that good you're required to have before you can sell. Rather than go into that mechanically, as the rules will already spell out for you, I'd rather talk about what that means to the tempo of the game. It means that you either will wait to strike when the iron is hottest or you might rush to foil that strategy. There are varying degrees between but aside from selling early there are buildings that allow you to manipulate the market in your favor, or out of another's. That might sound chaotic, and in practice it is, at first. As you get more plays under your belt you'll find that this is the major timing aspect of the game. It often ties into the types of buildings you've chosen to use, the symbols they have, or the overall cost you're shooting for. You can go big the entire game but you'll have to be careful with other players trying to foil you, while other times you can simply go cheap the entire game to try and end things quickly. It's this part of the game that I've especially grown to enjoy.

There are times that the worker placement can feel a bit procedural, but as I played more, I found it was a bit of a mini-puzzle as the game progressed. No buildings ever leave play, and doing a certain combination of placements in the right order is a key to getting ahead. The wrinkles really start when someone buys one of the buildings you're using frequently. Indeed a good strategy can be less about what buildings you wanted and more about the buildings that are being used more frequently.

Overall I think a competitive game of Harbour is a game of inches, and while some early games were blowouts, leaving me wondering if I would play again, to more recent plays with only a few points spread between first and last. I've enjoyed playing it with 2, 3 and 4. While I think 3 and 4 are similar, there is something a bit special about 2 that makes it special with that player count as well.

So far the art is really shaping up. While I didn't have a final copy I have to assume that the buildings were mostly final, at least art wise. Based on what I saw there and the KS that's currently live, I really love the colorful nature and flavor of the game.

Right now I have only two concerns. The first is that I'm not entirely certain all of the character powers are balanced. One of them scores 2 bonus points IF YOU cause the game to end. Boo, I say, boo. The second is that all of the buildings, except for one (there is a single attacky card in the game that I loathe), are perfect. I really feel every aspect of the conversion and gathering is covered to start. I just feel like the current version of take-that is out of place or could create a serious vicious cycle, and we've excluded that card in recent plays. Things are still being developed and tested, so I'm sure there's already been one, or more people, who have voiced those concerns. Otherwise, I'm fairly satisfied and find no other real negatives.

So the question: Is it worth $20? If you enjoy worker placement and resource conversion games in a seriously compressed time frame with a pile of tension, then I say you should. You cannot go wrong with this much game for so little money.

Edits: Spelling.
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Michael Mindes
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locusshifter wrote:
The second is that all of the buildings, except for one (there is a single attacky card in the game that I loathe), are perfect.


Dave, thanks for receiving the POD version and taking the time to review it.

Which building are you referring to?
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Seth Jaffee
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DrMayhem wrote:
locusshifter wrote:
The second is that all of the buildings, except for one (there is a single attacky card in the game that I loathe), are perfect.


Dave, thanks for receiving the POD version and taking the time to review it.

Which building are you referring to?

I think he means the one where everyone has to give you 1 resource. Tax Office?
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Dave Kudzma
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sedjtroll wrote:
DrMayhem wrote:
locusshifter wrote:
The second is that all of the buildings, except for one (there is a single attacky card in the game that I loathe), are perfect.


Dave, thanks for receiving the POD version and taking the time to review it.

Which building are you referring to?

I think he means the one where everyone has to give you 1 resource. Tax Office?


Yep, that's the one. I didn't want to name it if there was a change to the card and confuse people, so I generalized.

What made me start to exclude that building was when we played 2p; your opponent gives a resource of their choice AND you get to pick one for them to give you. I just feel like there's no reason not to take it when the building is vacated unless your opponent has just spent their resources. Honestly unless something breaks the cycle that could go back and forth, because I see no reason not to use it again if I could go back.

I would certainly love to hear other opinions about it.
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Seth Jaffee
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locusshifter wrote:
What made me start to exclude that building was when we played 2p; your opponent gives a resource of their choice AND you get to pick one for them to give you.

I'm pretty sure they give you 1 resource and you pick 1 from the supply in a 2 player game.
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Andy Van Zandt
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yes, they give you one, then you get a matching one from the supply in a 2 player game. (The POD copy may not have had that it was a matching resource).
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Seth Jaffee
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truekid wrote:
yes, they give you one, then you get a matching one from the supply in a 2 player game. (The POD copy may not have had that it was a matching resource).

But in any case, you only ever get 1 resource from any given opponent...
 
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Scott Almes
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sedjtroll wrote:
locusshifter wrote:
What made me start to exclude that building was when we played 2p; your opponent gives a resource of their choice AND you get to pick one for them to give you.

I'm pretty sure they give you 1 resource and you pick 1 from the supply in a 2 player game.


That's correct - but it wasnt quite clear in the POD copy. We are cleaning up the graphic/text on that one.
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aaron belmer
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We've played a few games and no one liked tax office.

I think the problem is new goods aren't entering the economy. Youre spending time stealing a lot of goods, and it ends up just delaying the game more than anything, feels out of place in the game.

Other than tax office, i think this is quite the perfect game.
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Rick Scholes
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"I think the problem is new goods aren't entering tht economy."

Quite a realistic game in that respect. The realism of the stealing comment is a matter of political opinion.
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Cagey McCageface
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Yeah, we had the tax office come out in our first play last night and it really seemed to derail the game. Someone was taking it whenever it was vacant. It doesn't seem all that helpful to whomever takes it either, since your opponents choose what goods you receive. And it's not terribly effective at delaying another player from being able to build for the same reason.

The reason everyone gave for taking it was that it netted you 3 goods where the best conversion buildings available only netted you 2. But I agree with the point above that no new goods are entering the market and if everyone keeps taking the action, then what's the point?
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