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My son, Enzo Anthony, at an uncomfortable moment when 3 months old
Landwehr 1438 is the first published of several current games planned by Terra Authentica. The game is lavishly produced, with a beautifully-crafted wooden board consisting of a nine-by-nine grid. Into the grid cells fit nicely-finished tiles, and these tiles drive the action in the game. Each player is trying to build a route from their home town, placed in one of the four corners, to the town of Lueneburg in the center. The town consists of four Quarters, and each player has a designated Quarter where they must deliver their goods. Once they get all eight goods to their Quarter, each player is assigned a delivery schedule and must deliver a prescribed set of goods, including those from other players, to specific home towns. The first player to complete this two-part task wins the game.
During the first half (bringing goods to market), play consists of revealing tiles from the board in an attempt to create a path for your goods. Goods are moved in carts, and a cart consists of one to four goods with your color good on the top. Carts move the number of spaces equal to the number of goods, thus single carts move slowly while four-place carts can hum along. The tiles show roads that are straight or roads that turn, or a "landwehr", which is trench that cannot be passed. Once a tile is revealed, it can be placed in the desired orientation or swapped with another revealed tile, except that landwehrs cannot be swapped. In order to get to the required town Quarter, players enter through a crossing tile and must wait a turn before entering the town. This thematically represents the time period requirement that merchants had to hold up and offer to sell good to the landwehr builders before they were allowed to enter the town.
Once all the goods get to town, a chart shows what the player must deliver to complete the second part of their journey. This is dependent of the order arrival in the town; the first player to get all of their goods to Lueneburg takes the first set of orders, the next player takes the second, etc. The required goods are taken from the other players once they have gotten them to their town quarter, and placed in carts (meaning your good is on top) for delivery to the required home town. Once all four players are in the second phase of the game (delivering goods back home), no more tiles are revealed or swapped but they can be reoriented. Thus the development of the network during the first phase must consider the impact on the efficiency in the second phase.
The expectations of this game are high since it is expensive and so well made. It does not quite live up to this, however, as the game play is dry and abstract. The rules also include a two-player scenario that uses some of the same tile and movement ideas, but is a different game with a different set-up. The game works, but it doesn't excite, and thus I expect this to be a curiosity that most will never get to see or play. You can see some photos and read the rules at www.terra-authentica.com .
This review originally appeared in Counter Magazine.