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Subject: Underrated and worth checking out rss

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Clem Fandango
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I originally bought this as part of my ongoing quest for interesting 2 person games. Also I like ‘Cuba’ and I seem to have a lot of games with Central American and Caribbean theming so I figured ‘why fight it?’

After my last couple of games I thought that Havana needs some more reviews as it’s a corker.

Overall (to cut to the chase) this game is a ‘dark horse’ or, in other words, unexpectedly very good.

Look and feel
The box is slightly thinner than Cuba but since it shares a lot of the same artwork looks very similar. It stores well as it is the same size as many of the other Rio Grande games. The componentry is high quality Rio Grande standard.

I was surprised on opening it there was no board, or player boards. Inside the box were 36 tiles representing buildings, 14 black worker figures, 4 sets of 13 beautiful cards, 4 player aid cards, 80 coloured cubes, 60 cardboard coins (in 1 and 3 peso denominations), a black drawstring bag, and the rules.

The cards and tiles are beautiful - with many of the same images from Cuba - and all well made.

The rules are good - I’d give them 8 out of 10. Nicely laid out. There were a couple of things I missed on my first read; turn order, and the difference between stock and supply. The in-depth description of the cards in the rules isn’t always clear.

Mechanics
The winner is the player who first gets to 25 (2 players), 20 (3 players) or 15 (4 players) victory points.

The victory points are the building tiles. Each tile has a number of victory points (from 1 to 7) and has a cost in cubes, workers, pesos or having the played the architect card.

The tiles are shuffled and 2 rows of 6 are randomly laid out in front of the players and only the ones on the end can be purchased. Once a row is down to 2 tiles 4 new ones from stock are placed between them.

The cubes are in 5 types 40 gray (debris), 10 each of red (brick), yellow (sandstone), brown (loam) and blue (glass).

Essentially this mechanic is familiar to a number of Euro games - assembling money, building materials and workers in combinations. The trick of the game is getting the ones you want, in line with the buildings available now and which ones are coming up next.

Each turn stock contributes 3 building materials and 3 pesos to a centre supply. Supply and stock are different, although workers are always in supply.

Each player has their own set of 13 cards which represent 13 possible actions. Each action has a number from 0 to 9.

9 = mama (obtaining building materials from supply)
8 = pesos (obtaining pesos from supply)
7 = black market (obtaining 1 or 2 building materials from stock, not supply)
6 = materials thief (obtaining building materials from a following player)
5 = pesos thief (obtaining pesos from a following player)
4 = architect (building a building that requires and architect and obtaining a worker from supply/stock)
4 = worker (obtaining 1 or 2 workers from supply/stock)
3 = tax collector (obtain a peso from stock and remove a worker or building material from each following player)
3 = conservation (discard one building tile from the end of a row)
2 = debris (take all the debris from the supply)
2 = protection (stop tax collector, pesos or materials thief from affecting you)
1 = refreshment (take one card back into your card stock from your discards)
0 = siesta (do nothing)

Turn order
The player turn mechanic is the brilliance of the game.

Round 1
For the first turn every player gets a randomly drawn building material and 1 peso.
Then players select 2 cards face down in front of them.

When everyone has selected their cards they are all turned face up. Each players 2 numbers are put in order of lowest to highest and this determines turn order with the players with lowest going first (so 9 and 1 is a turn number of 19, 8 and 3 = 38, 0 and 1 is 01, 2 and 2 is 22). This sets the first turn order for just this round. This is why siesta 0 is a good card - it gives you a good chance of being first or second. There are ways to break ties in the rules and on the player aid cards.

Player 1 then actions both of their cards, lowest first, then the next player does the same and so on.

Then player 1 sees if they can purchase any buildings, then player 2 and so on.

Once everyone has had their chance to buy buildings, then the centre supply or coins and building materials is replenished.

Round 2 (and subsequent rounds)
All players select 1 card from their 13 and place it face down and on a count of three (well this is how we do it) the players all simultaneously put their new card on top of one of the two cards they played last turn. The cover card goes into a discard pile, the new card is turned over, everyone resets their order and start and subsequent players are set again.

Winning

The first player to reach the required points wins immediately.

Why is this a great game?

I’d recommend this game for the following reasons:

It works well for 2, 3 or 4 although the strategies are different with different numbers. (Personally I like 3 best).

It’s a brilliant warm up or warm down game around a heavier longer game.

The turn mechanic with the choice of actions and predicting what other players will do based on their hoarded resources is just fascinating. It means several times the table has erupted when someone has pulled of a good heist or somehow beaten someone to the supply.

It is a great gateway game for heavier games like Puerto Rico, Stone Age, Agricola (now number 2 ), Cuba etc... you can teach this to non gamers and the mechanic around building materials to victory points is isolated well enough to make it a good start for harder games.

You can play this game and still talk and have fun (it’s not like Race for the Galaxy where making a joke or getting a drink might cost you the game).

Every game is different. There is one victory condition with changing paths and strategies, depending on what cards you have left, what resources are in play and what buildings are available.

It’s quick and easy to set up and can be explained easily.

It’s over in half an hour. No really it is. In the time it took me to write this I could have played 2 games.

nb - corrected in light of error (see below)

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André E
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Hi!

Sorry, but there is a little mistake in your review:

SamNzed wrote:

Mechanics
The winner is the player who first gets to 25 (4 players), 20 (3 players) or 15 (2 players) victory points.


It must be:

The winner is the player who first gets to 25 (2 players), 20 (3 players) or 15 (4 players) victory points

Thanks for the nice review. thumbsup

I love that game.
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Clem Fandango
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andre1975 wrote:
Hi!

Sorry, but there is a little mistake in your review:

SamNzed wrote:

Mechanics
The winner is the player who first gets to 25 (4 players), 20 (3 players) or 15 (2 players) victory points.


It must be:

The winner is the player who first gets to 25 (2 players), 20 (3 players) or 15 (4 players) victory points

Thanks for the nice review. thumbsup

I love that game.



Yes of course you're right - corrected!
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Dan Poole
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I think this is a decent game, but I personally would not recommend it for 2 players.
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Clem Fandango
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voynix wrote:
I think this is a decent game, but I personally would not recommend it for 2 players.


As I said I bought it as it looked like it would be a good 2 player game, having played a few 2 player games I agree and wouldn't recommend it for 2 either.

However it does work. I did try and play AlHambra for 2 recently and it was terrible, I understand you can play Princes of Florence for 2 as well but again it's awful.
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dave
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I've recently just played this a few times and really like the mechanics. I've only played it with 3 (and maybe once with 4) and also think it would be good with 2. Anyone care to briefly comment on why it doesn't (or does) play well with 2?




Oh, and good review.
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Clem Fandango
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dave65tdh wrote:
I've recently just played this a few times and really like the mechanics. I've only played it with 3 (and maybe once with 4) and also think it would be good with 2. Anyone care to briefly comment on why it doesn't (or does) play well with 2?




Oh, and good review.



it does work with 2. The issue becomes the 'attack' cards and the following player references AND that you know that one player or the other gets everything, so it's much easier to predict.

I do play this with 2 but I think 3 is best. 4 becomes harder to predict what resources you can get.
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Steve Cox
United Kingdom
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4 becomes harder to predict what resources you can get.

I don't understand this comment - surely it's a GOOD thing if there is more uncertainty? It forces you to think more about what your opponents might be trying to do, and to pay more attention to turn order. Otherwise it's just a race, decided by the luck of the cube draws and building cards. If there are only three of us for a games night, I put Havana away and get something else out - usually Hansa Teutonica these days.
 
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Clem Fandango
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Steve Cox wrote:
Quote:
4 becomes harder to predict what resources you can get.

I don't understand this comment - surely it's a GOOD thing if there is more uncertainty? It forces you to think more about what your opponents might be trying to do, and to pay more attention to turn order. Otherwise it's just a race, decided by the luck of the cube draws and building cards. If there are only three of us for a games night, I put Havana away and get something else out - usually Hansa Teutonica these days.


Interesting - it seems to me far more random with 4 and more strategic with 3.
My experience is that with 4 no matter how hard you try and predict what the other players are doing you can't work it out.
And so for me 3 isn't a race but more deliberate. It's easier to determine what you need to do to block others and build and it's more of a campaign and less of a lolly scramble (term here for random scramble).
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Kevin B. Smith
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SamNzed wrote:
it does work with 2. The issue becomes the 'attack' cards and the following player references AND that you know that one player or the other gets everything, so it's much easier to predict.

Even before reading this, I was wondering if you could play without the 3 attack and 1 defense cards, as a game with less screwage. Any idea whether that would cause other problems, or if it would leave the game entirely dull? Recognizing that for some of us, cutthroat "interaction" is not necessary. It seems like there would still be opportunities for blocking and racing interaction.
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