Todd
United States
Massachusetts
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Please be gentle, this review was done very quickly to highlight a game that I have recently acquired.

Background:
Helvetia was published in 2011 by Kosmos. The designer, Matthias Cramer, has also published Glen More, Lancaster, and Mieses Karma. In an interview with Piotr Silka, Mr. Cramer stated that:

"The basic idea is that you have to produce so many different things that you have no chance to do it all on your own, so you marry, say, your neighbor's butcher in order to get some nice steaks out of your cow. He will be quite happy about this marriage as he can then get children to work in his butchery. It's a strategy game, but most family game players have a lot of fun with all of these marriages."

I am not going to go into the rules. You can find them here: Helvetia English Rulebook formatted file.

Worker Placement:
I, like many others on the Geek, have played many games with this mechanic. Some of my favorites are Agricola, Stone Age, Village, Lancaster, Dungeon Petz, and Manhattan Project. I enjoy this mechanic. I like the options it gives and the interaction it breeds.

What makes it stand out from the rest?

1 The game has a little area majority flavor, where the person with the most action coins on a character gains a 1 point tile. This tile also gives a free action in subsequent rounds.

2 Start Player. People can play as many action coins on a character that they want as long as they can perform the related actions (i.e. you can put three coins on the priest as long as you have three people to marry). The round ends when only one person has coins left and that person becomes the start player for the following round. Really like how this works during the game.

3 Does not overstay its welcome. I am looking at you Stone Age...boy I want you to be a 45 minute game and yet I never played it with a group of 3 or 4 players in less than 90 minutes. shake

4 Marriage/Kids. Will talk about later.



5 Race to 20 points. Unlike many worker placements Helvetia ends at the end of the round during which a player (or players) reaches 20 points.

6 The score is not cumulative. You rescore at the end of each round and you can definitely lose ground from one round to the next. Trust me.

Compared to The Manhattan Project??

No I am not crazy, or at least not totally crazy. I see these games as a little similar. They are both races. You have a finish line and each player wants to create the best machine to reach the end quickly.

I also see a relationship between the spy mechanic in MP and the marriage action in Helvetia. They both allow you to gain an ability from an opponent's building. The spy action is confrontational in MP, you gain control of a building and can't be evicted. The spies remain until they are returned home by their owner. In Helvetia the relationship is mutually beneficial. Player A gets to use an opponent's building and Player B gets to create baby workers. In fact, one of the interesting aspects of the game is that when you marry into another village you get to take an action coin from the village if available. It can be smart to take your own, but it can be more interesting to take another player's coin and put it into your village in hopes that they will want to marry your workers. I love this dowry aspect of the game.

Helvetia plays well with 2 players and it is a game that I can get my wife to play. She would never play MP as the game has too much conflict.

Conclusion:

I have really enjoyed my games of Helvetia. Most of them have been two player, but I have also liked it with more players.

One complaint that has been made about the components is that the men and women meeples are hard to tell apart. The new hat stickers really help with this and I feel that it is not a problem to tell the difference between meeples when playing the game.



Sorry for the quick review. I just think that the game needs to get more attention which can be hard with the cult of the new, of which I am a card carrying member.
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Jack Francisco
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Nice review as usual Todd. We'll have to get that one to the table together.
 
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Todd
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Thanks Jack! I wrote this review as I was rushing out the door to get my daughter from preschool.

I think that 2011 was a great year for gaming and some of it gets lost with the new Essen crop.

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Steve Duff
Canada
Ottawa
Ontario
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I really enjoyed this game, so frustrating that it didn't get an accessible release.
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Todd
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I totally agree, but Thor does seem to get it in from time ot time at
GameSurplus.
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Jack Francisco
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And his service dominates!
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Alvaro BF
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Thanks for the review! Have you played the game with more than 2 Players? Does it change a lot?

Also, are the stickers included with the game as of today?

Thanks!
 
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