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John Moller
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Over the weekend at the World Boardgaming Championships in Lancaster, PA I had a chance to play and enjoy the current Kickstarter game from Dice Hate Me Games: The Great Heartland Hauling Co.

I've been about 7 minutes from a print and play version for a few weeks now, but the opportunity to play this game hasn't presented itself. This weekend, I had more than one opportunity to play and I took them all.

What you need to know about Heartland Hauling (which is my shorthand for the game) is that it is a pick-up and delivery game with cards. The size and scope of the game are small, but the challenge is big.

You're in control of a truck picking up and delivering goods. You need to have orders for the goods you load and unload. You need to have gas cards to spend to move your truck. You can spend points to move your truck if you don't have the right gas cards. This can be advantageous, but it's also dangerous. I found myself sliding down a deep hole trying to make my deliveries without wasting precious card space on gas cards in the first game.

The card management is the key for me. You get to draw back up to five at the end of each turn and you probably want to cycle fast to collect the cards you want in your hand. I was always trying to play at least three cards a turn, sometimes more. I didn't always succeed with this.

The trick in the game is you want to deliver as many goods as you can, each delivery is worth points. Points are not determined by distance, but location. Locations are dealt out randomly at the start of the game. The map is different every game and you have to find the best way to navigate it with your 16 wheels of truck.

It's a card game at its heart, so keep that in mind. Your strategy in each game is going to be determined by what cards you can get in your hand, what the make-up of locations is, and where your opponents go. You will have your moves blocked, so keep a back up in mind.

My strategy has been quick short hauls. It hasn't always worked, but I did fairly well in one or two games. I'll keep trying.

The goods are tiered, but there are only two tiers. The Beans and Corn are worth less than the Pork and Beef, so keep that in mind. The Pork and Beef are also harder to get your hands on (less cards in the deck.) It all balances out fairly well and I believe a better player will be able to make the short low point hauls earn more points than the higher point hauls which will take more time. I think they're both valid strategies and maybe a balance of both will do better justice yet. That's yet to be determined. I've got a few plays under my belt, but not enough to make that ultimate determination.

The game ends at a set number of points, which is determined by the number of players. After one player hits that number all other players have a chance to take one more tun. The player with the highest score wins. Remember though, if you have any goods on your truck at the end of the game, you're going to lose points. So, empty your truck before ending your game.

It's really a game about careful planning, good timing, and a little luck combined with adapting your strategy. Your end game is really important, but be careful to get there at the right time. This makes it an interesting game. It's one I look forward to playing again.

The Great Heartland Hauling Co. is currently up on Kickstarter, so if you want more information check it out there. It's really worth a look. The game is simple to grasp, difficult to master, and fun to play. It's a unique challenge with a different theme. Once again thanks to the team behind new classics such as Carnival and VivaJava!

The Great Heartland Hauling Co. was designed by Jason Kotarski and is being published by Dice Hate Me Games!
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