New South Wales
I'm new to Euro's being a recovering decades long hex and counter and also table top figure war gamer. A few months ago I took the plunge and started buying New Euro games for my collection and my gaming groups’ enjoyment. My collection has some non hex and counter games like Adv Civ and Machiavelli and the like and I always enjoyed them and the "differences" they gave. In a way, it was like when I was a steady tea drinker. I'd experienced coffee and liked it but it hadn't occurred to me just how much. Then one day I ground fresh beans and I've never looked back.
I should also point out that board games, and particularly acquiring new well made games, has become a secret fetish of mine. I sometimes feel almost a sense of shame at the thrill of getting home with the latest new game and ripping the cellophane off. Or that urge to grab the parcel off the delivery person and shut the door without so much as a "by your leave" because my "fix" has finally arrived. I mean, that first time you gently lift the un-warped perfect box lid off and it is so tight it farts. The smell of that freshly opened box. A whole new world to explore....ermm I digress. (sprinkles cold water on face)
I should also point out that this “review” is more about my initial experiences with the game and will not dissect the rules in detail. In fact, it’s probably a psychological examination of my “darker side” to board gaming using Hamburgum as an example and as such may only be appropriate to those that share my “problem” with a fixation on new games – or people with a medical background.
Hamburgum arrived at my local games store as a result of the owner visiting Essen. I'd picked up a signed copy of Brass (which he'd actually brought back on his person) several weeks earlier. Now parcel post was kicking in and the games were arriving quicker than the search function on the Geek. A couple of copies of Hamburgum snuck into the shop. I'd negotiated and arranged for Santa to ensure that Imperial would be awaiting me on Christmas morning. Hamburgum, being from the same designer, Mac Gerdts, and utilising the roundel mechanic seemed like a good feeder from Brass to Imperial for the group so I bought it. Well, that and the fetish. Actually probably just the fetish....ermm
I carefully, but eagerly got rid of the cellophane and to my great satisfaction the box lid yielded but with appropriate resistance and a little puff fart. An excellent start to our relationship. Then came the smell...oh the smell of a new game. It was not unlike Imperial; unique to Eggerstspiele in my experience (similar to the differences of a Highland Single Malt as opposed to an Islay Malt)...ermm another fetish...but Hamburgum had a slightly sweeter almost earthier characteristic to it. This intrigued me so I started carefully lifting out each component and fondling...viewing them and delved into the box looking for a sign of this feint yet noticeable trait. CLAY! There was clay in the box - that's it! The pieces representing bricks were actually fired clay bricks! This relationship was going way past a first awkward date.
Then I noticed the pieces representing timber were actually little stained "beams" of timber. Hardly remarkable and pretty straight forward simple but the "attention to detail" section got another nice big tick. But oh behold, you need bells as well as bricks and timber to build churches and the bells were...deep regular breaths Eric...REAL BELLS! Little golden metal bells with ringers that go "tingalingling".
I actually had to put it aside and make myself a fresh coffee. Too much of a good thing can ruin it and this relationship was developing fast. Maybe too fast so let's just slow it down a bit. I left her...it open on the floor and went outside with my coffee and let things ease on down a bit. But it was like a siren...I gulped the coffee.
Then I found a strange piece of orange paper printed in German and English informing me that there was pieces accidentally included that were not part of the game. Some bigger square versions of the timber pieces. It only heightened the mystery of the game to me. Printing this and putting it in the game...after these wrong additional pieces were put in it...couldn't the pieces have been removed? No, she...it gave me these additional pieces freely to fondle...and put in yet another zip lock bag. Oh dear, grab the zip lock bags there's pieces to sort and separate and protect! Including totally useless additional ones!!! I blurted it out - "I love you!"
The board was printed both sides, "Hamburgum" depicting the city of Hamburg and in German text with "Londonium" on the other side in English text. Good thick board. The various chits, counters and building tiles were all of seemingly modern standard - excellent thick card with outstanding print quality. And like Imperial they have a German text side and the flip side is exactly the same with English text. The wooden cubes representing sugar, beer and cloth are a nice "chunky" cube and feel good. There was two rule books, one in English and one in German and like Imperial there was a "Historical context and Data" booklet which was actually a very enlightening and good read. The production quality is excellent and the touches of fired clay bricks and bells and the overall attention to detail shift it into the outstanding category for me.
But does she just look good, but have an outrageous cackling laugh or a sixth toe that will ultimately ruin the experience? There's only one way to find out - let's play!
The game is essentially about building churches and cathedrals as good non catholic citizens of either London or Hamburg after the Reformation. Victory points (or Prestige Points) as they are called are gained by making donations towards the building of six great churches and cathedrals. Each building project requires 5 donations of increasing expense requiring bricks, timber, money and a bell. Each time a player makes a donation (via the "Church" action on the roundel) the player can choose a donation tile that scores prestige points based on a number of varying things like "2 points for every ship you currently have" or "3 points for every citizen (building) you own in that churches parish." But all of this philanthropy requires money. Money for some of the later donations, but also money to buy in (from overseas or outside via trade) the bricks and timber and bells required. This means you need a business empire that produces beer and / or sugar and / or cloth and ships to carry these commodities to outside markets.
I had a couple of friends over for a New Years Day afternoon of beers, gaming, a BBQ for dinner and then more gaming. Hamburgum was opened up, perused and laid out and got three nods. I'd read the rules carefully twice and it took me (surprisingly) no more than 5 minutes to explain the game. We decided to play a few turns just to get the feel of her...it but we actually just kept going and didn't restart. The first play took 2.5 hours and she...it revealed some of her secrets but promised more. So after an appropriate break for dinner the beers were dispensed with, the single malts came out to join us and having built "Londonium" we decided to visit Hamburg. Our second play was more refined with a lot less feeling about and a lot more determined competition. Unlike Brass (one of our reference points) there are more ways to impede and interrupt opponent’s strategies and as our first foray into the "roundel" mechanic I suspect this had a lot to do with it. This game will not wait for you (and nor will your opponents). You have to plan ahead. Everything worth doing needs money, materials, or produced goods and you've got to get the order of things right and (hopefully and if at all possible) have some redundancy built in for what your opponents might do to upset you. An example of this being the mechanic that decides which dock your ships rest at. Ships at the first dock (where new ships are built) can carry 3 of a single type of goods overseas for sale. Ships at the second dock only carry two and at the first dock only carry 1. The maximum number of ships that can sit at a dock is equal to the number of players. When the first (and best) dock is full, simply building another ship shunts those ships down to the next dock and this has a domino effect. The ships at dock 2 drop to the last dock and the ships at the last dock go off the board and back into the players supply. So, just when you were planning to ship your 7 goods with your 2 ships in the first (3 goods) dock and 1 with your ship on the last dock an opponent visits the dockyard, builds a ship(s) and now your 2 x 3 ships are 2 x 2 ships and your 1 x 1 ship doesn't even exist! Bastard!
Our collective first impressions of this game were very good. The three ratings after 2 plays averaged just over 8. I may write a more detailed review as I chalk up more plays but that may depend on medical advice and if my wife finds out.
Either way, she...it is a most welcome part of my collection for her...its sheer beauty and attention to detail. The game plays well too and is a wonderful (torment) use of the roundel mechanic and served us well. I highly recommend Hamburgum...but get your own copy!
I must admit the clay of the tiles did me as well.
Fantastic attention to detail.
I want an original Ys too, they also have tile like pieces
Hilarious review LMAO!. Our group will be playing this one tomorrow for the first time.