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Kyle A
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A Charming Game!

This is my review of New Bedford, freshly delivered from Kickstarter.

Introduction

I backed New Bedford on Kickstarter knowing nothing about Dice Hate Me Games or Nat Levan. I liked the setting and theme, and I typically enjoy worker placement games so for $38 ($29 pledge, plus shipping), I was willing to throw the dice.

New Bedford is almost a pure worker-placement game. Yes there is a city-building aspect to it with a touch of luck, but everything in the game is set up through placement of your workers in the Action Phase.

A general overview

The game is divided into several phases
1) Action Phase
2) Ship Movement Phase
3) Whaling phase

When the game starts, each player receives two meeples, two ships, and $5 worth of starting goods. The resources are Wood, Brick, Food, and Money. You need Wood and Food to send out your ships to collect those valuable whales, which is the most efficient way to score points and win(per the rulebook). Brick is used in combination with the rest of the resources to pay for buildings, some of which provide end game points, but for the most part provide extra spaces for the players to use. Some more setup items: All unbuilt buildings are placed next to the board, and 3 different types of whale tokens worth different values are mixed in a bag with some empty sea tiles. From this accumulation of tiles, players will attempt to hook the most valuable whales.

Action Phase: Starting with the first player, players will place their meeples one at a time and carry out the corresponding actions immediately. The city initially consists of a limited number of buildings, thus competition is high driving demand for new buildings. Unlike most worker placement games the starting locations cannot be blocked out by a previously placed meeple. This is balanced by rewarding the first player there with an extra bonus. 3 wood instead of two, for example. One of the starting buildings allows players to build a new building. Players will use this spot and pay for a building and add it to their quadrant of the board. Unlike the starting buildings (the game board), those built by players may only be used once per round. You may use an open building built by another player if you pay them $1.

So the buildings provide resources and a means to build other buildings. They also provide players with the means to send their ships out to find whales, which is ultimately the point of the game. Again, these spaces may be used by any number of meeples, with the first meeple placed there providing an extra benefit to that person. The sequencing is such that a player must Prepare a ship (costing wood), then Launch a ship (costing food). Again these are two separate buildings. Given that you only have two meeples to place every round, the planning is important. Wasted moves hurt a lot in this game. Preparing a ship will always cost 2 wood, or 1 wood if you’re the first to place a meeple there. Launching a ship will cost X food, where X is the number of turns the ship will stay out (or X-1 food for the first meeple placed there). Initially my thought process was to send ships out for as long as possible, but later I desperately needed 1 more food to build a building and I seemingly wasted a turn gathering food because my opponent built the building I wanted. Also players must evaluate the types and amounts of whales left in the game. As players gather whales into their ships, the number of available whales decreases, while the amount of empty sea stays the same.

After all players have placed their two meeples and carried out their actions, move to the next phase.

A note about buildings: Some buildings are Action buildings…place a meeple, do a thing. Other buildings are Victory buildings providing an end game bonus such as X number of Victory points, or Y Victory points per 2 types of whale, etc. Meeples are not placed at these buildings. The player who built these buildings receives the end game bonus. And since you only place buildings in your quadrant, it is easy to see which building belongs to whom.

Ship Movement Phase: So in the last phase players placed meeples, gathering resources and sending out their ships to go collect whales (hopefully!). The movement phase consists of moving each ship one spot toward shore. If all the ships are still out to sea, the Movement phase ends here. If a ship returns to shore however, that player must pay for the whales in order to score them. This seemed a bit weird at first, but it made sense mechanically once I thought on it (to me anyway). Thematically, maybe this represents paying your crew for their hard work. When you pay for the whales, they score you points.
If you can’t pay for a whale you may sell it at half cost, and use whatever proceeds generated to pay for other whales on your ship. Not all whales are created equal. Of course the most abundant whales are worth the least, however there are mechanics in the game that benefit players who capture the cheapest whales.

After moving ships and taking care of any returning ships, players will then attempt to hook a whale.

Whaling Phase: Any ships still out to sea will get a chance to hook a whale. I say chance because sometimes you come up empty. First, count how many ships are out to sea. Grab this many tiles +1 out of the bag we filled with whale tokens during setup. So if there are 4 ships out, grab 5 tiles. Then place the tiles in a row so all players can see them. The furthest ship out has the first pick from the available tokens, then the next furthest out, so on and so forth until the ship closest to shore picks. Again, some of these are empty sea tokens, or blanks. The whale tokens are put onto the corresponding spots on the player boards. Ships may hold an unlimited amount of whales. The empty sea tokens are set aside and will eventually be put back into the bag prior to the next whaling phase. Why not put these tokens right back in the bag (like we did the first game)? Well, one of the buildings you can buy allows you to remove an empty sea token from the game. Of course this benefits all ships, so proceed carefully.
Repeat the process for 12 rounds, and count up the scores at the end of the game (whales, plus Victory buildings, plus money bonus).

Components
I am very happy with the components. The resources are all wooden. The player boards are thick punchboards and nice finish on them and beautiful art. I really like the first player token. Perhaps my favorite thing is the food token though. It looks like a cookie crisp (cereal).

I really like that the designers included content for solo play as well. More so, the back of every player board shows a different captain to face off against in solo mode, with different AI strategies. You can even face off against two or more at the same time. Thus with lots of different solo options and extra content provided via the expansion, there is a lot of game to explore here…and I can’t wait.

Atmosphere and verdict

I have only played a handful of times, and every time I come away thinking this game is just simply charming. This is a quick and easy game to pick up but that does not mean this game lacks strategy and meaningful decisions. I have only begun to dip into the large amount of buildings available, and I have not yet played with any of the expansion buildings or content.

I will definitely explore playing for 18 rounds, or perhaps 24 because I think the game ends too soon, but other than that I have no complaints. This game is just charming and I really like it. New Bedford is a quick, light, worker placement game in a unique setting that is both fun to play and tense.

A note to potential buyers:
The designer has posted an errata, mostly dealing with the expansion tiles. Ultimately they will be sending backers 7 replacement tiles to fix a file issue they had. Perhaps the wrong one got sent to the printer. I took a sharpie and fixed mine in the mean time. I also printed off the Turner’s Mill tile which is an optional tile for solo play, and was missing from the base game. This may turn some people off, but there is another thread to discuss that if you wish.

http://boardgamegeek.com/thread/1613880/official-faq-and-err...

Thanks for reading!

Cheers,

Kyle A.


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Kirk Groeneweg
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nice review. I have not gotten my copy to the table yet.
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Tyrone ..................
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I also liked the game and I also thought it seemed like it ended too soon. I felt I had just gotten everything in order to launch some ships, after building some buildings, and the game was over. Very enjoyable game though.
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Dave Turner
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I just got mine to the table tonight. My son kept talking about how fun it was. I loved it as well. In think it worked with my kids BECAUSE it doesn't overstay its welcome. I also love the pressure in knowing there's only a few turns left, and there's no way that I'm going to get everything done that I wanted. We can't wait to get this one to the table again. Nat did a great job on this one.
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Nat Levan
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Thanks for the review!

Longer game isn't really supported, but you're certainly welcome to try. I'd be interested in the results. I'd start small, go to maybe 14 or 15 rounds.
You'll likely start to run out of whales, so you might also want to increase the number in the bag so you're not just pulling empty sea out by the end.
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Enoch Wright
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I have to disagree with the game needing more rounds. After 5 plays of 2 player (might differ with more), there is a definite change to the number of open ocean tiles drawn and the game is very tight. More rounds would make it too easy.
Our last game, I built 5 buildings and 1 ship that stayed out 9 turns, my opponent built 5 buildings with 1 ship out 8 turns. (We like the lighthouse and building that uses food to stay out)
Prior game, I built 4 buildings with 2 ships out a total of 13 turns, my opponent built 6 buildings with 1 ship out 8 turns.
In both of these, the tightness was evident and the game didn't overstay its welcome. We built nearly all the buildings and had too many whales to pay for.
I think its the perfect length and while it does feel like it ends quickly, planning and knowing the game changes that.

Great game.
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Kyle A
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I should add that I don't discredit the design for being too short. Every time I have played, I have enjoyed it enough that I want it to keep going. Simple as that

Yes the number of whale tokens/sea tiles would need to be adjusted, as well as the number of buildings if we decide to play for longer. Maybe we will just try playing two games back to back and adding up the scores.

I will also add that we have been playing with the Ambergris and Castaway promo tiles every game, and probably will continue to do so because I really like what they bring to the game
 
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Nat Levan
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alexankh wrote:
I will also add that we have been playing with the Ambergris and Castaway promo tiles every game, and probably will continue to do so because I really like what they bring to the game


Personally, I almost always use the promo tiles for that reason. They add that little extra bit of mystery. Will we see the White Whale or not? And the Ship's Log sort of takes that whole idea of unique encounters and expands on it.
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Heather H
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We just received this at Gen Con this past weekend and despite the errors, which certainly is a bit annoying, we loved our few plays of it! It's a beautiful game as well and pretty quick which is nice for how much game there truly is here. We can't wait to add in the expansions and play some more!
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Justin Rizzo
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We just picked up the base game plus expansion. I think it's a neat game, and it fills my favorite theme/style (I love Fleet).

I found the game to be a bit too brief, as least for 2P. My wife and I launched a total of 4 boats between the both of us the entire game. At 12 rounds and only 2 workers, you aren't going to get a lot done. We have not added the promos yet (we own them), nor have we tried the expansion. I'm hoping adding these in will widen the game a bit. I really want to keep it, but if the additional content can't breath air into the 2P experience, it will have to be traded, which is sad, because there is a LOT to love here.
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