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Subject: Building analysis: BF, CF, & Buildings 1-9 rss

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Mike K
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I recently acquired Le Havre, and have now played 4 complete games (one 3-player, the rest 4-player). Admittedly, this isn't a lot of repetitions, but already I have developed some thoughts as to the relative strengths and weaknesses of the various buildings. For your perusal and opinions, I submit my current thoughts on the buildings.

I should point out, once and for all, that I have a personal bias towards the 'building' resources (wood, clay/brick, iron ... and to a lesser extent, coal) over the 'non-building' resources (fish, grain, cattle, hides). I have also had and witnessed much success from those who take loans early in an effort to erect a plethora of buildings and ships. This will, of course, affect my opinions on these buildings. As always, I welcome all arguments for and against my positions.

Due to the great number of buildings (33, including the starting threesome), I am breaking this list up into 3 parts. The first part covers the starters (both BFs, and the CF) and Buildings 1-9, those that likely will come out early on. The second part covers Buildings 10-20, which can come out pretty much anytime depending on the distribution. The third part covers Buildings 21-30, which are primarily late-game buildings.

Enough chatter ...


Building Firm: Construct a single building. (Cost: 4/6; Entry Fee: free/1_food; Craftsman bldg, hammer symbol)

I like grabbing a BF early on if possible. Though there's no monetary gain from buying a building, you gain an early 'C' building for Marketplace use. (I wouldn't actually buy a BF unless I knew I was hitting the Marketplace that turn; competition is great for that building, especially in the early-going.) The hammer symbol can have a little use with the Clay Mound & Colliery (& Labor Exchange, if that appears), but this is of a rather secondary nature.

Construction Firm: Construct one or two buildings. (Cost: 8; Entry Fee: 2 food; Industrial bldg, hammer symbol)

I read a lot of people extolling the virtues of grabbing the CF on Turn One if an extra Franc hits the offer space, but I just don't see why. You clean yourself out completely of money, with no one using the CF any time early on, and you don't even get a 'C' building for the Marketplace. Yes, the building is very powerful later on, and it's nice to have others pay you two food to use it (and also, you get in for free), but the cost seems to outweigh the advantage. I'd be more likely to make a grab for it 3 or 4 turns in, particularly if I have a need to use it. Otherwise, I pass.

1. Marketplace: Take 2 (+1/'C') different st. goods, and look at top two Sp. Bldg. cards, placing back in either order. (6 F, costs 2 wood; Entry Fee: 2 food OR 1 F; 'nothing' bldg)

Like the CF, the Marketplace is a chic pick to buy early. Again, I don't like buying over actually building; you don't gain any immediate Francs, and can cash-strap yourself easily. I'll let someone else buy this, then buy up a BF and use the Marketplace for an early Franc.

2. Sawmill: Construct a wood-required building, for one wood less. (14 F, costs 1 clay & 1 iron; Entry Fee: free; Ind. bldg)

Now here's why I can see someone buy the Marketplace: buy & occupy it, grabbing a clay & iron, then hop in a BF and build the Sawmill. 14 F for two resources early on is incredible value. (If you think of it as 7 F that can be liquidated at any time, that works too. My last game, I did just that, using the proceeds to help pay off loans and use the Marketplace for 5 goods.)

The downside is obvious; others will hop in for free and have great utility for it. Of course, if you can use the Arts Centre, so much the better for you.

3. Fishery: Get 3 fish, +1/'fish symbol'. (10 F, costs 1 wood & 1 clay; Entry Fee: free; Craft. bldg, fish symbol)

A cheap building that offers little; often, the fish accumulate on the offer space anyway. If I'm building it, it's probably in conjunction with some other building while using the CF. (Even the fish symbol is of little use, only used for this building and the aforementioned Labor Exchange.) With the Smokehouse (see below), you can gain a little cash and more food, but unless some special buildings augment the use, I wouldn't bother.

4. Joinery: Sell 1/2/3 wood for 5/6/7 F. (8 F, costs 3 wood; Entry Fee: 1 food; Craft. bldg, hammer symbol)

Like the Marketplace, this is a 'single resource' building; grab 3 wood on an offer space, and you're good to go. But is it worth it? I don't think so; it's only 8 F, and the wood often proves more needed than the cash you get for it. Certainly nice for a quick influx of funds, but I'd rather wait for an opp. (or the city) to erect it.

5. Bakehouse: Convert grain to bread for 1/2 energy each, and earn 1/2 F each. (8 F, costs 2 clay; Entry Fee: 1 food; Craft. bldg)

For me, this is akin to the Fishery; relatively cheap, but not offering what I like. It takes a while to build up enough grain to get real use out of this, and you have to burn some energy to boot. The 8 F and 1 food per visit don't do it for me.

6. Hardware Store: Get 1 wood, 1 brick, & 1 iron. (8 F, costs 3 wood & 1 clay; Entry Fee: 1 food; Economic bldg, hammer & fish symbol)

Gain an upgraded brick, an iron AND a wood? Sign me up! Here's a building that I look to build if possible, and will use often if I can't. If the Brickworks (#14) is buried, then this building really becomes powerful. Face it: you're gonna need bricks sooner or later, and you may as well get some other nice resources (particularly the iron) while you're at it.

7. Charcoal Kiln: Convert wood to charcoal. (8 F, costs 1 clay; Entry Fee: free; Craft. bldg)

Pass. I don't care how cheap it is; for me, the wood is more vaulable than the charcoal. If you need energy that badly, get to the Marketplace (preferably with a couple 'C' buildings) and grab some coal. As is the case in many games, actions themselves count as resources that need to be managed well. Like the Fishery, I might get this with the CF if I'm getting something else too.

8. Smokehouse: Convert up to 6 fish into smoked fish for 1 energy total, and earn 1/2 F each. (6 F, costs 2 wood & 1 clay; Entry Fee: 2 food OR 1 F; Craft. bldg, fish symbol)

The restriction hurts this building, but it's probably necessary as I've seen games where the fish offer space hit double-digits. the resource-value ratio is very poor (3 resources for 6 F), but the Entry Fee could entice you if you or others are hitting the fish offers or Fishery. Another one I won't go out of my way to get.

9. Abattoir: Convert cattle to meat + 1/2 hides. (8 F, costs 1 wood, 1 clay, & 1 iron; Entry Fee: 2 F; Craft. bldg).

This will certainly sound contrary to everything I've said before, but I like getting this building. Why? Well, it's a 'C' building for the Marketplace (like others that I shun, to be sure), and it's like the Bakehouse in that it converts non-edible resources into edible resources. Two reasons I like this building: (a) the Entry Fee is 2 F, and if you're not getting cattle, then someone else is, so you'll earn good money or save it yourself, and (b) unlike the Bakehouse, the Abattoir requires no energy. If early Sp. bldgs give use for hides, so much the better. (Anyhow, I like having an early use for the iron I intend to own after hitting the MP or Hardware Store a couple times.)

Coming Soon: Buildings 10-20.
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Mikael Ölmestig
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I have only played the game once, so take this with a grain of salt, but I think you undervalue building the buildings for its point value. Charcoal Kiln might not be used for the whole game, but 1 clay for a 8F building is great. It is even better if you own the construction firm and build it there with another building. If you need cash later you can sell the building for your needs.
 
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Brian Bankler
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Coyotek4 wrote:

9. Abattoir: Convert cattle to meat + 1/2 hides. (8 F, costs 1 wood, 1 clay, & 1 iron; Entry Fee: 2 F; Craft. bldg).

This will certainly sound contrary to everything I've said before, but I like getting this building. Why? Well, it's a 'C' building for the Marketplace (like others that I shun, to be sure), and it's like the Bakehouse in that it converts non-edible resources into edible resources. Two reasons I like this building: (a) the Entry Fee is 2 F, and if you're not getting cattle, then someone else is, so you'll earn good money or save it yourself, and (b) unlike the Bakehouse, the Abattoir requires no energy. If early Sp. bldgs give use for hides, so much the better. (Anyhow, I like having an early use for the iron I intend to own after hitting the MP or Hardware Store a couple times.)


The abbattoir is one of my favorite purchases.

Unlike most other buildings, I think the Abbatoir can expect over 1 visit per players (unless it's absolutely buried, like a single stack is 1-9 missing only 1-2 numbers). Almost everyone tries to get two cattle in the first few turns (or via spare marketplace takes). One action to get two cattle early and 2F and an action can easily get 39+ food, enough to cover the entire late game ... not just for feeding, but food based entry fees (when its worth it to overpay by food rather than dip into those VP-worthy florins).

Often an early cattle-baron will flip 8-9 cows (keeping two for breeding) in the midgame, then flip the rest in the end game. This gives you amazing flexibility, and why I say "Over 1 visit per player." Normally (in three player games) this gets hit 4-5 times. That's 8-10F beyond the VP gotten from building it. An amazing value. It may change with a different number of players (I've only played with three)
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jbrier
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Coyotek4 wrote:
I recently acquired Le Havre, and have now played 4 complete games (one 3-player, the rest 4-player).


I on the other hand have only played 4-player once, and never 5-player. The rest of my 30 or so games have all been 2 & 3 player.

Quote:
I should point out, once and for all, that I have a personal bias towards the 'building' resources (wood, clay/brick, iron ... and to a lesser extent, coal) over the 'non-building' resources (fish, grain, cattle, hides).


Well, I'd say that the value of getting your first grain or your first two cattle is very high, especially earlier (for the obvious reason that they generate extra free resources every turn). For example, I would MUCH rather take 2 cows than 2 iron in round two. I think someone who never gets cows has a serious disadvantage to compensate for.

Quote:
I have also had and witnessed much success from those who take loans early in an effort to erect a plethora of buildings and ships.


I think the loans are balanced, i.e. it isn't always an obvious choice to take them (or avoid them). I know many people disagree and feel that loans are nearly mandatory. In my personal experience though I've repeatedly won against good players who were taking loans without taking any myself. I think there's three viable approaches- take no loans, take 1 loan and repay it quickly, take multiple loans and pay them towards the end. Often the choice arises from a tactical situation ("I'd be sacrificing a really good opportunity by taking food instead of X (e.g. two cows in round two!) Let me take X and get a loan").


Quote:
Construction Firm: Construct one or two buildings. (Cost: 8; Entry Fee: 2 food; Industrial bldg, hammer symbol)

I read a lot of people extolling the virtues of grabbing the CF on Turn One if an extra Franc hits the offer space, but I just don't see why. You clean yourself out completely of money, with no one using the CF any time early on, and you don't even get a 'C' building for the Marketplace. Yes, the building is very powerful later on, and it's nice to have others pay you two food to use it (and also, you get in for free), but the cost seems to outweigh the advantage. I'd be more likely to make a grab for it 3 or 4 turns in, particularly if I have a need to use it. Otherwise, I pass.


It is certainly a disadvantage to be cleaned out of money, but I think it's worth it.

As an aside, I think you undervalue getting at least 1 hammer symbol. An extra Coal at the Colliery is a big deal. Also, getting some extra clay from the Clay Mound is important when you are looking to convert a batch of them to Brick. There is a subtle competition that starts in the mid-game (and continues until all buildings are built) revolving around who has brick and how many, as this limits players' ability to build later game buildings. Having a few hammer symbols gives you a potentially decisive tempo advantage in this arena.

Moreover, why do you say the CF is only useful "later on"? Players have just as much to gain from using it early. All in all it is the most efficient way to build; getting to use it at no cost while other players have to pay you is phenomenal. Owning the CF is the cornerstone of a successful building intensive strategy. It is even stronger in 2-player games where there is no Sawmill.

Quote:
3. Fishery: Get 3 fish, +1/'fish symbol'. (10 F, costs 1 wood & 1 clay; Entry Fee: free; Craft. bldg, fish symbol)

A cheap building that offers little; often, the fish accumulate on the offer space anyway.


The cost/value ratio is very high and the fish symbol shouldn't be undervalued. In conjunction with the Smokehouse and any other building that has a fish symbol (e.g. Hardware Store, Arts Centre), the 1-2 action combo of going to the Fishery for 6 fish and then converting them to 12 food and 3 bucks at the Smokehouse is a strong early play and a good way to avoid loans without much hassle.

Quote:
4. Joinery: Sell 1/2/3 wood for 5/6/7 F. (8 F, costs 3 wood; Entry Fee: 1 food; Craft. bldg, hammer symbol)


Not a very good cost/value ratio, but the hammer symbol is strong if you don't have any yet (there are few hammer symbols in the game, and getting at least 1 is important in my view). Being the owner of the Joinery means you can get money without having to spend food (useful for when you're stuck without money OR food).

Quote:
7. Charcoal Kiln: Convert wood to charcoal. (8 F, costs 1 clay; Entry Fee: free; Craft. bldg)

Pass.


Pass on what- building it or using it?

As a build is it phenomenal with an excellent cost/value ratio + it gives you a "C" symbol.

As far as use, if the Colliery is buried deep then the Charcoal Kiln can be an effective way to get lots of energy. It also comes up as a late game choice when there's a lot of accumulated wood on the offer space. Grab them and convert to oodles of energy (which can be a better route than Colliery-Cokery depending on whether they are even available, whether they are occupied, and who owns them).


Quote:
8. Smokehouse: Convert up to 6 fish into smoked fish for 1 energy total, and earn 1/2 F each. (6 F, costs 2 wood & 1 clay; Entry Fee: 2 food OR 1 F; Craft. bldg, fish symbol)


See my comments on Fishery above. Strangely, the Smokehouse is one of those buildings that I'll rarely use if I don't own it. If I see an opportunity to get both the Fishery and the Smokehouse then I'll probably go for it. If I'm not gonna have a couple fish symbols then I probably don't want the Smokehouse.

Quote:
9. Abattoir: Convert cattle to meat + 1/2 hides. (8 F, costs 1 wood, 1 clay, & 1 iron; Entry Fee: 2 F; Craft. bldg).


I LOVE the Abattoir. If you don't own it than it really hurts to pay the 2 francs just to convert just a few cows. Being the owner you have much more incentive to visit it and just convert 4-6 cows if you need some food to avoid loans. You also have to assume that others will visit at least once during the game, so taking those extra francs into consideration it has a great cost/value ratio.
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Mike K
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godfeather wrote:
I have only played the game once, so take this with a grain of salt, but I think you undervalue building the buildings for its point value. Charcoal Kiln might not be used for the whole game, but 1 clay for a 8F building is great. It is even better if you own the construction firm and build it there with another building. If you need cash later you can sell the building for your needs.

The problem I have with this and other buildings, in terms of actually building them, is that it takes an action to do so. 8 F is great value for its cost, but I like to get buildings that either I'll use often (especially if there's an entry fee) or that others will pay me to use. The action itself is a resource, and I'd rather get building like the Charcoal Kiln at the same time that I get some other, hopefully more useful building, via the Construction Firm.

Now if I have little else to do on my turn (no decent offers, no other buildings to enter), I'll certainly grab a cheap 'useless' building for its Franc value. It's just not a typical 'Plan A' for me.
 
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Mike K
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verandi wrote:
Coyotek4 wrote:
3. Fishery: Get 3 fish, +1/'fish symbol'. (10 F, costs 1 wood & 1 clay; Entry Fee: free; Craft. bldg, fish symbol)

A cheap building that offers little; often, the fish accumulate on the offer space anyway.


The cost/value ratio is very high and the fish symbol shouldn't be undervalued. In conjunction with the Smokehouse and any other building that has a fish symbol (e.g. Hardware Store, Arts Centre), the 1-2 action combo of going to the Fishery for 6 fish and then converting them to 12 food and 3 bucks at the Smokehouse is a strong early play and a good way to avoid loans without much hassle.

Perhaps it's because of my one loss (to date) that I feel this way. In that game, I tried a Fishery-Smokehouse strategy. I gained a ton of food, but had problems getting building materials (and thus, buildings) which led to a rather distant 3rd-place finish (4pl. game).

More experience may very well convince me otherwise, but not now.
 
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Grzegorz Kobiela
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With 80+ plays (~40 solo, ~30 2p, rest 3-4p, never 5p), I'd comment this way:


Building Firm

I agree on grabbing the 4 cost BF as early as possible, but I more value the Hammer symbol than the Marketplace symbol. You need the hammer if you plan to use the Colliery with succes and this is the easiest way to acquire it. The Craft symbol is a nice addition as you want to use Marketplace quite often.

Construction Firm

It is more valuable in 1-2p games. Solo - obvious, you need it if you want high scores. In 2p, you need it to make pressure on your opponent. If he uses it, he pays you a lot, if he doesn't, you gain speed on building. With more players it's only valuable if people tend to build often. This speeds up the whole process. I always love to use it (as early as possible!), sometimes I love to own it.

1. Marketplace

I consider the purchase of the Marketplace as the worst thing you might do. Firstly, you won't get Craft symbols early on. Secondly, everybody else will use it before you can (and you didn't buy it to sell it at once!). Thirdly, you need to get money early and let others grab the better resources.

2. Sawmill

Not available with 2p. With more players, it's nice to build and sell to get an early ship (combined with one visit of the Joinery). That's huge!

3. Fishery

It's useful solo or in 2p seldomly, but with more players my action is way too valuable to use it. Consider you have 7-21 actions less in 3-5p games!

4. Joinery

Far too expensive to build and often blocked by the next player after that who builds this. However, a nice way to get early cash! USE IT FOR SHIPS! Don't waste on buying buildings early.

5. Bakehouse

Rather cheap craft symbol. However, won't benefit much from entry fees (what's one food?) - so, I'd say you're right on this one.

6. Hardware Store

Great building, but not available with less than 3p! Also, has a Craft and Fishing symbol (which might come in handy if you own more fishing symbols).

7. Charcoal Kiln

I'd always consider to buy it just for the 8 francs! Also, late in game it might be a considerable alternative to coke. There certainly will be huge piles of wood after all buildings are gone. Grab 12+ wood, convert to Charcoal and have 36 energy. That's enough for some ships and good shipments.

8. Smokehouse

Great building, but rather expensive for what it's worth. I definitely agree with Uwe here to smoke at least once each game. Even more useful if there are some Special Buildings using Smoked Fish!

9. Abattoir

I agree with both of you that building this one is very important. If you manage to buy it before someone else can build it - do it! Money well spent.
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Mike K
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Ponton wrote:
With 80+ plays (~40 solo, ~30 2p, rest 3-4p, never 5p), I'd comment this way:


Building Firm

I agree on grabbing the 4 cost BF as early as possible, but I more value the Hammer symbol than the Marketplace symbol. You need the hammer if you plan to use the Colliery with success and this is the easiest way to acquire it. The Craft symbol is a nice addition as you want to use Marketplace quite often.

I'm thrilled that we seem to be in so much agreement, considering the greenness of my play. I do have one disagreement, though:

It just seems that there are more than a few buildings with the hammer symbol (Joinery & Hardware Store, at the least), and only one is needed for the extra coal at the Colliery. More hammers give you more clay with the Mound, but is that enough?
 
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Grzegorz Kobiela
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I just said, it's the easiest building to get with a hammer symbol. I know there are way more than this one. I too often have seen people without a single hammer symbol as they didn't pay attention to it. LOL, in the one 3p game I had with Uwe, even he didn't get any of them! *muha*

So, I say: get it early and be save. Then you can more freely build buildings and won't need to exactly get a special one to get this damn hammer symbol. But as everything here, it depends on the play style of your opponents.
 
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Jeshua Smith
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Also note that hammers are harder to get in 1-2 player games since Joinery & HW Store (and others?) aren't in play.
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Jerry Hagen
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I make a point of going to the Marketplace early to "scout" the Special Building stack. Many of the Special Buildings can be game-breaking for the players who are well set up for them. There's no reason to let that be a random process when the Marketplace lets you know what's coming. As a bonus you get a few diverse resources at a time when diversity is most difficult to achieve.

I go very early (round 1 if possible) to see what goods I need to be aiming for, then a second time just before the first special building is constructed to lock down my favorite choice...if the opponents will let me get away with it.

There's a whole strategy article to be written analyzing the special buildings, which I keep meaning to write myself. But work and games get in the way.
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