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Subject: First Impressions of Le Havre from a Soon-To-Be Gamer rss

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Will Colton
United States
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I am calling myself a "Soon-To-Be-Gamer" based on the fact that I am really just getting into board games within the past year but my love for games is accelerating quickly.

Anyways, I just wanted to put my impressions in writing because I did not quite get what I expected out of Le Havre.

Firstly, I enjoyed the mechanics of the game and how simple it was to learn those. With only a couple of choices of action, you can basically read all the cards layed out and make a decision that seems good and meaningful for the first few turns.

However, my reason for posting this review is that as the game progressed and there were more buildings available, there was basically no way to know what actions would be useful or not. Too frequently you could produce goods which you weren't sure how they would really be useful later on without knowing more about the buildings you haven't seen yet. This is a problem in many games but compounding this problem in Le Havre is the fact that you cannot even copy veteran players' actions because they, by doing something, have blocked or removed the usefulness of that action for you. By the time you have figured everything out, you will be leaps and bounds behind other players and it is too late to implement more than a very simple desperate last minute strategy.

What I want to get out of this is that I highly recommend new players set aside time for AT LEAST 2 games. It is not the shortest game so this seems somewhat unreasonable, but if you are competitive like me and don't feel you have experienced a game until you have implemented a real strategy in that game, you will need to play that second game.

I left my gaming night somewhat frustrated by having no idea what was a good strategy until right before everyone was counting up their points. Be warned.

When I HAVE played a second game, my guess is my rating of Le Havre (currently a 6.5) will shoot up and perhaps I will give a second review with some details on what strategy I settled on.


P.S. Another way I thought to get around this is perhaps for the person teaching the game to tell (in detail if possible) some popular strategies. This way you can implement one of these and possibly modify them slightly to your tastes and leave your first game slightly more satisfied that I was.
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Marco Poutré
Canada
St-Jean-sur-Richelieu
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Yes... I still like 'em 35 years later...
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As you climb higher up the ladder of complex boardgames, you'll have to live with the fact that you will get your ass handed to you by experienced players and that's the best way to learn.
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Gavin Dollman
South Africa
Clarens
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Just looked at your game collection. Welcome to a whole new level of complexity and fun. That feeling when you nail down that strategy - excellent
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G. Gambill
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Shawnee on Delaware
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Marcon wrote:
As you climb higher up the ladder of complex boardgames, you'll have to live with the fact that you will get your ass handed to you by experienced players and that's the best way to learn.


This is very true, but not always easy to deal with as a player. The investment is WELL worth the reward in this game.

Another way to deal with this is to study the game before you play by downloading rules and materials before you meet. This would have allowed you to see all of the buildings in advance, and see what synergies exist between them which can really help a new player. This is especially important when learning a game like this where the buildings will always come out, but will come out in a slightly different order each game that adds variability to the whole system. This, along with the HUGE deck of special buildings of which only a few are seen each game, makes the game very re-playable, always interesting, and particularly challenging. Don't give up!
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Matthew Tadyshak
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All deep games have learning curves and will probably will not be understood on the first 1-2 plays. Don't give up playing it because you didn't understand the game right away!
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Железный комиссар
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My first game of Le Havre lasted 4.5 hours, gave me a headache, and left me in serious doubt about whether it was really something I wanted to invest more time in.

After that, things worked out.

The game was new to everyone, though. Might be nice to play with more than one novice at the table, or with vets who were willing to offer a little guidance / commentary.
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Chris Heap Senhouse
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I agree with the general consensus here. It makes me sad when people expect to fully understand a game on the first play - any game for which that is true generally isn't worth the effort in the long run and has little lasting value.

Stick with it! Le Havre is worth playing over and over, and you will get comfortable with it after a few more plays.

Chris
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Jeff Forbes

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There's a LOT to Le Havre, and it'll take more than a few plays to get a solid grasp around it.

Given what you've gone over you'll probably like it in the end.

Here are a few general tips:

Look over the buildings. Each resource has buildings that flip it in to a better resource. For example, a series of buildings that works together is the Abatoir and the Tannery. You use the abatoir to turn the cattle in to meat and hides, and then the tannery to turn the hides in to leather and francs, and then ship the leather for big profit while eating the meat (or shipping it too).

Shipping is very important, it's how you make the most money off of your goods. So get some ships.

Coke and Steel are the most valuable goods. Leather is third, but making it also makes food and francs. Try to work towards obtaining these and shipping them.

Loans aren't a bad thing in Le Havre. The interest is 1 franc no matter how many loans you have, and they only cost 5 to pay off during the game, so don't be afraid of them.
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David Boeren
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DaGreenMachine wrote:
However, my reason for posting this review is that as the game progressed and there were more buildings available, there was basically no way to know what actions would be useful or not. Too frequently you could produce goods which you weren't sure how they would really be useful later on without knowing more about the buildings you haven't seen yet. This is a problem in many games but compounding this problem in Le Havre is the fact that you cannot even copy veteran players' actions because they, by doing something, have blocked or removed the usefulness of that action for you. By the time you have figured everything out, you will be leaps and bounds behind other players and it is too late to implement more than a very simple desperate last minute strategy.


You have unrealistic expectations. Perhaps instead of the game being flawed because you didn't instantly grasp how everything worked, it's just a deep game that's more complex than you're used to and you're not supposed to understand the whole thing at a glance. Focus on learning how things work and not copying others. Copying a move without knowing why won't help you improve and it may be a bad move for you because you have a different position than the other player.

On the first play of anything new you should expect to lose and not know what you're doing. Maybe if it's a pretty simple game it won't be that way, and the threshold of how much game you can "get" quickly will raise as you gain experience (you said you were a beginning gamer), but if you do OK it should be considered a minor bonus and that's all.
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Will Colton
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Quote:
it's just a deep game that's more complex than you're used to and you're not supposed to understand the whole thing at a glance


Maybe I just have never played a game this deep, but in my experience, you can easily start to form strategies and enjoy thinking about the game on the first playthrough of most other games I have played. Even the deeper ones like Race for the Galaxy, you can tell just from the basic rules and seeing the few example cards in your hand how things could synergize and some ideas of what to go for.

I am not saying you have to instantly "grasp how everything worked" because obviously that would not be a fun game. But I just wish I had known more of the interactions before the game started or known that the first game would basically be entirely a learn-how-the-game-works game with little chance for really enjoying the game.

I apologize that my review comes across as negative or harsh. I really meant it less as a judgement against the game and more as a notice to people who want to play it for the first time or to people who want to teach the game to their friends.
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Jeff Forbes

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Quote:

I apologize that my review comes across as negative or harsh. I really meant it less as a judgement against the game and more as a notice to people who want to play it for the first time or to people who want to teach the game to their friends.


That's how it came across to me, for what it's worth (as a notice, not a judgement). There's no reason to apologize if you put a negative review up. Some people take it personally when you don't like a game that they do. In fact, your review made it clear to me that you weren't even coming to a judgement yet, and wanted to give the game more time to simmer before really deciding whether it is for you or not.

It's also worth noting that when you're dealing with games like this , it is generally expected that it takes at least a few games to feel out what's going on, so a lot of people may find a review like this redundant.

Quote:
Even the deeper ones like Race for the Galaxy, you can tell just from the basic rules and seeing the few example cards in your hand how things could synergize and some ideas of what to go for.


Seeing that things work together with the default start hands in RFTG is like seeing that you can use a fishery and smokehouse in Le Havre to make food. That's not strategy, that's just learning the mechanisms in the game and how they interact. The strategy part comes later, when you are capable of making a value judgement on which is a better choice. In Le Havre, the buildings are worth their asking price, but you need to use them properly to get value out of them. In RFTG, the cards are generally worth their asking price, and you do need to use them properly too, but there's more space for playing a card that is worse for your situation than other options, keeping you in the game. Maybe.

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James Krolak
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I didn't see this review as negative, to be honest. He had criticisms of the game, but mostly implied that he suspects that there is a lot of potential to it. He just had trouble wrapping his head around the subtleties the firs time through. My first experience was fairly similar. I thought I was figuring out a good strategy by grabbing wood and selling it in the Joinery right from the start. Alas, I didn't realize until too late that the player who invested in brick and iron and eventually steel was going to end up way ahead of me on points.

It IS a game that requires 1 or 2 playthroughs before you start to understand the value of the goods and the buildings and start to formulate strategies, though. It might have helped if the experienced players had shown all the key buildings to the new players, but I think it would have just overloaded me with too much information in my first game of it.
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Pablo Schulman
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Belo Horizonte
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I played my first game of Le Havre yesterday and I have mixed feelings :sigh: I though that one action per turn makes the game too slow, giving no margin to errors and my biggest disappointment is how loans are so easily forgiven... My entire game I had no loans, but the game was won by a player with 5 (5!) loans on a certain time(of course he spent 15 francs to avoid a loss of 21 and used the local court to eliminate the others for free!). The difference between me (third) and him was 6 points. By the way, second player had four loans once. But great game anyways, now I had a new glimpse of strategy concerning loans, and maybe I can improve my game in later games.
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Srdj
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Its just like anything else in life. Lets say a video game, you might die and replay the same map or level or whatnot because you need a few times to figure out the best strategy. This is not "Sorry" or "Yahtzee" or "Battleship" or whatnot, its a -medium-to-maybe heavy- board game and expecting to grasp your first strategy on the first go is out of the question. Heck, even watching a movie for the second time, you realize that you suddenly start seeing things that you've missed the first time you watched it and you have a different feeling about the whole movie.
 
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