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Subject: Ora & Labora: Impressions from a Rosenberg newcomer rss

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Francois Vincent
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Having never played Bohnanza, Agricola or Le Havre (or anything else Rosenberg), I've been curious about these games for a while and decided to jump in with Uwe Rosenberg's latest creation, Ora & Labora.

Opening the box I'm confronted by what appears to be several rule books, player guide sheets, play areas, and enough chits/components to make an Arkham Horror box blush. The play sheets are fine and serve their point but after a couple plays you can probably leave them in the box. The play areas are a little thinner than I'd like and are prone to curving and no longer lying flat on the table but a few heavy books can solve that. I've read a few complaints that it is easy to peel away some of the images from the chits but I didn't really have that problem even though I wasn't being particularly careful. Pop Pop Pop. Out they came. There are even a bunch of small ziplock bags included. These are great but I'm going to a scrapbook store soon to look for a better storage solution.

I've only played the 2 player game with my wife who is equally into boardgames but is not a fan of economics games (supply/demand mechanics) like Power Grid. I was a bit worried at first that she might not like it but as we've played a few games and gotten up the learning curve, we have both settled into a place where we are enjoying it and not simply trying to figure it out.

The theme of being a monk isn't particularly well captured though expanding the territory and filling it with settlements feels little more baron-like, a lot more labora than ora. But this is just frosting on what is a very satisfying game mechanic. Each player is in competition with others for resources like clay, wood, sheep, wheat-- oops! I mean, peat, gold and the like. These are then turned into refined products or buildings which further refine products almost like a Civ tech tree. Clay can be turned into pottery, which can be combined into a wonder with each transformation requiring a special building.

But while competition is intense for the raw materials through the elegant production wheel (materials that go uncollected one turn will typically produce more the next turn ensuring they become more desirable), owning a building will only produce a slight advantage (usage-wise) since they can be used by other players for a small fee.

Building placement is key and here building ownership becomes a factor as they increase the value of the adjacent settlements. so not only must you expand your territory in a timely and hopefully efficient manner but you should aim to build upon it in a way that maximizes your points.

Having only played two players (which works quite well if a little long, the "short" game is "only" 2 hours long. If you have kids, as we do, a 2 hour block of free time is at the limit of reasonable for us to have available. There is not too much interaction with each other and certainly no interference (which might appeal to some types of players) but I found I could have done with a little more interplayer play. Princes of Florence is a comparable model with players competing to complete their personal villas but with an auction mechanic that allows the players to clash a little more.

In any case, Ora & Labora definitely taxes the planning and supply/demand parts of the brain while pushing the solo development pleasure buttons. Choices each turn are many and being able to evaluate your greatest need is not obvious at several points.

I am definitely looking forwards to playing this with 3 or 4 people. And to keep playing it with the two of us.
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Clyde W
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Just as a quick reference, in the 3p game, there's significantly more screwage of your neighbor. I played this last night and during the second-to-last turn, the player to my right screwed me by placing my prior (and last worker, meaning I couldn't build/use or use), so I was "forced" to screw my left-hand neighbor in the exact same manor, which greatly upset her, as this totally threw her carefully-planned turns into the trash. It was kind of joyful, actually.

In the end, all three players ended up both being able to make a Wonder, so we all rejoiced, did a little prayer, and went to be happy with each other, but for a second there I though I was never going to hear the end of it from my LHO.
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Anthony Pomozzi
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I laminated my starting boards, districts, and plots to eliminate the bending and make them more sturdy. If you don't have a laminating machine they make self-laminating sheets. I also got the perfect case for all of the chits, pieces, and cards at Walmart for $5. It holds everything except the things I laminated and the rules.
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Clyde W
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Make/model of this perfect storage solution?
 
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The Plano 3650 Series worked wonders for me.




Forum Thread: Perfect Storage Solution for Ora et Labora
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Pomozzi wrote:
I laminated my starting boards, districts, and plots to eliminate the bending and make them more sturdy.


Are the laminated starting boards too slick to hold the building cards?

I have thought about doing this myself, but I wanted to see how it worked first.
 
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Anthony Pomozzi
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No, I even have the cards in sleeves and they stay on the boards just fine. Even without the sleeves they stuck well too.
 
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Francois Vincent
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I bought one of these and it works as pictured. Fits beautifully in the box. Thank you for the tip! 5$ at WalMart.
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