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Le Havre: The Inland Port» Forums » Reviews

Subject: Review: The Inland Port or The Poor Relation ? rss

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Paul
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I've never written a review before but having played this a few times since being given it for christmas I thought i would give it a go.

Why this game? Well because i have really mixed feelings about it and I'd like to know what everyone else thinks.

So lets start with the positives.

Gameplay

The game is beautifully simple.

Players start with a small amount of each of the games 5 resources (Wood, Clay, Fish, Grain, and Money) and each turn either use an existing building or build one from the supply.



Thats it, two actions, rinse and repeat for 12 rounds (72 turns in total) and about 60 minutes (or less, see comments) and you're done.

Now how you use the buildings and gain the resources to buy more, thats the clever bit, and thats where the game's boards come in.

Each player has both a "Warehouse" board and a "Game" board complete with rotating arm.



Every time a building is purchased or used it is placed on the zero sector of the game board. After each round the spinner arm is advanced resulting in each set of buildings effectively moving to a higher sector. The higher the sector the building is in when it is used the more times you get to perform its action BUT leave it too long and your opponent may decide to use take the actions leaving you with 1 measly franc in return. Leave a building long enough for the spinner to come full circle and your forced to sell it for half its victory point value.

Most buildings either produce resources or allow you to sell them and that process is managed via the warehouse board. This board is a very clever bit of game design, i've not seen anything like it before and for me it's what makes the game.



Gaining or spending resources is done buy moving your resource marker in the direction indicated on the building used. Moving 1 space right gives you 1 resource, 1 space up 3 resources and so on.

The problem comes when you're at the extremes of the warehouse. Have to pay 1 wood but your in the left hand column? You're forced to move the marker down not left losing 3 resources instead of 1.

Using a building allows you to move grain up 3 spaces but there is only 1 available? Tough thats all your going to get.

A large part of the strategy of this game comes from managing the position of the goods markers within the warehouse and its a satisfying challenge to try and master.

Rounds last an increasing number of turns as the game progresses and new buildings become available after each round. In the final rounds the obligatory eurogame "Bonus points for resource x or building type y" buildings become available and shortly after that you're done. Add up points for buildings, francs and any bonuses and highest scorer wins.

Thats it and in my opinion it's pretty fun. Gameplay wise my only complaint is that the lack of a turn track (rather than the round marker on the main board) makes keeping track of the rounds a bit tricky but other than that it all works very well.

Components

The boards are nice thick card and the artwork is nicely executed and remains faithful to the style of its big brother.

The building tiles are good quality and well laid out with simple easy to follow iconography making the game easy to learn and teach with very little need to refer back to the rules.

Speaking of the rules they are also high quality, well written, and contain a lot of helpful pictorial examples of gameplay.

Unfortunately I cant be as positive about the rest of the games components.

Once assembled the spinner is very loose and the domed bottom leaves the game boards wobbling around on all but the thickest tablecloths.

Lookout games have included a round summary card listing the upcoming buildings. This again is well laid out on good quality card and it would have been a nice touch but for the fact that it does not include the buildings functions making it basically useless.

Lastly theres the goods markers. The rules happily inform you that 3 different markers have been included allowing you to choose which you like most.



As you can see that choice amounts to
1. 4 Coloured Cubes - perfectly functional but not exactly exciting
2. tiny coloured tiles with a picture of the resource on them - perhaps more thematic but actually much less functional as when more than one good occupies the same space you can no longer see what the lower good is.
3. the flip side of the coloured tiles which show a picture of the coloured cube ??????? thereby combining all the lack of theme of the cubes with the poor functionalities of the tiles.

None of these things is a huge problem but they do give the game an unfinished/rushed feel that I couldn't ignore.

The obvious comparison for this game is Agricola: All Creatures Big & Small. Where that treated players to ani-meeples where wooden cubes would have sufficed The Inland Port Leaves you feeling slightly ripped off.

In truth the game doesn't need many components but i think they could have made more effort with what was there.

The inclusion of a proper turn track and a couple of nice wooden markers would have added a feeling of quality. Better spinners and a more useful player aid (or two) would also not have hurt and rather than multiple sub par goods markers surely 8 shaped resourc-epples would not have broken the bank.

Conclusion

The Inland port is an elegant an engaging game that captures some of the feel of "Big" Le Harve whilst providing interesting new mechanisms to get to grips with.
I've enjoyed my plays so far but do wonder whether the lack of variety (every building is available in every game) will limit replay-ability.

I would not hesitate to recommend this if it were not for the component issues. The lack of polish leaves me with the feeling that the publisher cheaped out on production. A feeling which is only increased when comparing this with All Creatures big and Small which retails for the same amount.

If your not super picky about components and long term replay-ability doesn't worry you then pick up a copy. Otherwise waiting to see if an expansion is released to address the issues might be a good idea.

Hope you enjoyed the review, as I said its my first one so all comments/advice will be gratefully received.

Thanks to
Roland
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for the christmas present .
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Jon
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Quote:
about 90 minutes


Is that right? I can play regular Le Havre two player in about that time; I thought the time for this was supposed to be closer to 30 minutes.
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Roland
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Great review Spooks, I think you pretty much summed up my thoughts too.

ravenskana wrote:
Quote:
about 90 minutes


Is that right? I can play regular Le Havre two player in about that time; I thought the time for this was supposed to be closer to 30 minutes.

The first time we played this it took, no joke, over 2 (or 3? it was late...) hours. I think the more we play and the better we formulate strategies (which building combos to use) the faster the game will go. It definitely feels like it will still be longer than Agricola: ACG&S though, since the sheer number of turns is larger (72 turns vs 48) and Agricola has fewer options each turn and fewer combinations of actions to consider.

We've played regular Le Havre a couple of times but not recently enough that I can remember how long it took us.
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Paul
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EthicsGradient wrote:
Great review Spooks, I think you pretty much summed up my thoughts too.

ravenskana wrote:
Quote:
about 90 minutes


Is that right? I can play regular Le Havre two player in about that time; I thought the time for this was supposed to be closer to 30 minutes.

The first time we played this it took, no joke, over 2 (or 3? it was late...) hours. I think the more we play and the better we formulate strategies (which building combos to use) the faster the game will go. It definitely feels like it will still be longer than Agricola: ACG&S though, since the sheer number of turns is larger (72 turns vs 48) and Agricola has few options and combinations of actions to consider.

We've played regular Le Havre a couple of times but not recently enough that I can remember how long it took us.


Under 90 minutes is probably possible but i doubt you could get it done in under an hour whilst really considering your moves. The shear number of turns is the limiting step, 60s per move = 72 minutes a game. You can probably play quicker than that at the start but as the game progresses your number of options goes up and up.

That said we may play slower than your group. as a reference Agricola: ACG&S probably takes us about 45mins.
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Paul
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KissaTaikuri wrote:
I really hope the playtime can be reduced as I've got this on pre-order to arrive in a month or two.

I play gric acbs at lunch time with a friend and we rip through a game in 10 to 15 minutes. I'm thinking we should be able to get through this one in 30 to 45 mins once familiar.

I'm sad to hear another report of crap components. I'm not sure what the factories are doing these days but more and more games are coming out with sub par productions.shake


If you can get "gric acbs" done in 15 then you can probably get this done faster than we do.

As for components the spinner is the only thing thats genuinely poorly produced and that can be fixed with washers http://boardgamegeek.com/thread/907014/super-loose-pointers and sticky feet http://boardgamegeek.com/article/10920930.

The other stuff i mentioned all seems to be poor/cheap choices by the producer rather than production problems in the factory.
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Play time must be very dependent on the players. I've played this a couple of times with different players, both were teach and play in 30 to 40 minutes. I could see doing it in under 20 minutes without teaching and knowing the tiles better from previous plays.

***Everyone had played Le Havre and Ora et Labora before so that did help with understanding from familiarity with similar icons and gameplay.
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Paul
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Kevin in Kansas wrote:
Play time must be very dependent on the players. I've played this a couple of times with different players, both were teach and play in 30 to 40 minutes. I could see doing it in under 20 minutes without teaching and knowing the tiles better from previous plays.

***Everyone had played Le Havre and Ora et Labora before so that did help with understanding from familiarity with similar icons and gameplay.


Wow that is fast. 20mins would be about 15s per turn (30s if you include the other players turn as thinking time) to plan and perform your turn not including the, admittedly small, time taken to advance the round marker draw new buildings etc.

I thought i was resonably quick when it came to taking turns (for example played trajan yesterday 4 player with 3 new players in well under 2 hours including rules explanation) but obviously not.

Just out of interest what kind of scores are you getting in your games of le harve: TIP ? Wonder if we take too much time trying to grab every last point.
 
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SpooksTheHorse wrote:
Kevin in Kansas wrote:
Play time must be very dependent on the players. I've played this a couple of times with different players, both were teach and play in 30 to 40 minutes. I could see doing it in under 20 minutes without teaching and knowing the tiles better from previous plays.

***Everyone had played Le Havre and Ora et Labora before so that did help with understanding from familiarity with similar icons and gameplay.


Wow that is fast. 20mins would be about 15s per turn (30s if you include the other players turn as thinking time) to plan and perform your turn not including the, admittedly small, time taken to advance the round marker draw new buildings etc.

I thought i was resonably quick when it came to taking turns (for example played trajan yesterday 4 player with 3 new players in well under 2 hours including rules explanation) but obviously not.

Just out of interest what kind of scores are you getting in your games of le harve: TIP ? Wonder if we take too much time trying to grab every last point.


Maybe sub-20 minutes is a bit ambitious.

I don't recall on the scores. I played a couple of games at BGG.CON in November. We definitely were not trying to optimize for every single point. It just seemed that a fairly obvious path developed as to which buildings should be taken in a given round based on what was already in play, so we didn't spend too much time working out what tile should be taken on a turn.






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Ron
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My first game lastet about 45 minutes; I'd say 30 to 40 is the usual playing time.
With an AP prone opponent, it may last longer though ... meeple
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Anthony Aurelio
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My son and I have played this about five times now and we finish in about twenty to thirty minutes. As for the wheel issue I kind of like the fact that its kind of loose. I don't have to worry about it rubbing the printing off over time. I play on a felt surface when we play and have no issue of the weel advancing and going backward by accident during play.
As for the components I like the fact they kept it simple and didn't add in all kinds of unnecessary items. I can just whip out the box and start playing right away no long setup. Just my two cents.
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Paul
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aaurelio wrote:
My son and I have played this about five times now and we finish in about twenty to thirty minutes.


OK so the general consensus seems to be that 30-45 mins is easily doable. (review duly amended) Have to try to be a bit quicker on my next play and see how it goes.

aaurelio wrote:
As for the components I like the fact they kept it simple and didn't add in all kinds of unnecessary items. I can just whip out the box and start playing right away no long setup. Just my two cents.


I agree that, other than a turn track, the game doesn't need any more components but i do think they could have upgraded what was i the box. No more stuff to set up just nicer versions of whats already there.

 
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Mark O'Reilly
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Good game, poor components, massively overpriced.
Agricola all creatures is good value, crammed full of awesome meeples, inland port is same price for bit of not especially great quality card.
It's a rip
 
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Jon Ben
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biffta wrote:
Good game, poor components, massively overpriced.
Agricola all creatures is good value, crammed full of awesome meeples, inland port is same price for bit of not especially great quality card.
It's a rip


Inland Port is cheaper, $26CAD vs. $34 CAD at my local store. For sure this has to do with the wood in AaCBaS.

I do disagree with the complaints about quality, I find the Inland components beautiful and functional. However, I agree that the summary of the buildings is useless, especially since those buildings can just be placed in face-up piles so you can easily plan for the future. It's easy to see what round you're in the wheel tells you and the building pile waiting to come into the game tells you. I found the system of tracking turns quite elegant also, you can just look at how many buildings are on the zero spot of both wheels.

I also don't think it's fair to complain that they included cubes and tiles for the resources. This was a nice touch and you can choose whichever works for you. I'm sure some like the tiles to aid in stacking as cubes are a bit unstable.
 
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Mark O'Reilly
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It's now £2 odd cheaper than Agricola all creatures in uk.£23 uk pounds delivered. That is hefty for what sin the box, wobbly boards fixed with domed plastic fasteners is just poor.
Remedy is rubber stick on feet on each corner - should of been included in the box
 
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Paul
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JonBen wrote:
I found the system of tracking turns quite elegant also, you can just look at how many buildings are on the zero spot of both wheels.


Thats the system we've been using but it does breakdown once the padlock buildings come out as they don't get placed on the board. It's not a huge problem but it is a slight annoyance which could have been handled better in my opinion.

JonBen wrote:
I also don't think it's fair to complain that they included cubes and tiles for the resources. This was a nice touch and you can choose whichever works for you. I'm sure some like the tiles to aid in stacking as cubes are a bit unstable.


I may be guilty of being a bit hyperbolic there but i think it's a fair complaint. For me it seemed like they had the tokens and then thought "wait people won't be happy unless we put some wood in the box" It added to the overall feeling that this game was very much second fiddle in the production stakes when compared to A:ACBS.

I don't want to be too negative, I enjoy the game just could have liked it more .

Everyone is obviously entitled to their own opinion and in this case your better off than me because you have a game you like and i have one I have reservations about.

Thanks for the comment. Nice to see people are reading the review
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Mark O'Reilly
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Paul makes a good observation about the wooden cubes being chucked in as an after thought.
Must of gone something like this....

Z-man boardroom, sometime in the not so distant past....

"The inland port game is ready for approval sir"

Chief: "swell, gather the team, I will look at the finished product with all present"

Nock on door- team enters office with the small box with bits of card in it.

Chief: "hmmm, how much we gonna charge for this sucker?"

Team spokesperson : "we were hoping to pitch it at around same price as the Agricola all creatures beauty sir"

Chief: "wtf?,!! , but its just a few bits of card, are you serious?"

Member of team: "we could make it a few $$ cheaper than agric 2 player???"

Chief: "I like this man, why is he not in charge?"

Team spokesman: "err...sir.."

Member of team from back " we could chuck in a few cubes, just say they can choose to use them as alternative scoring..or something??"

Whole room falls on floor rolling about laughing.
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SpooksTheHorse wrote:
JonBen wrote:
I found the system of tracking turns quite elegant also, you can just look at how many buildings are on the zero spot of both wheels.


Thats the system we've been using but it does breakdown once the padlock buildings come out as they don't get placed on the board. It's not a huge problem but it is a slight annoyance which could have been handled better in my opinion.


You do add the padlock buildings to the board! There are not enough rounds to have them get destroyed so this does not cause any problems.

To comment on the domed fasteners etc... I agree that this was not the best choice. What I've done is bend the boards slightly so that the left and right edges touch the table. The bend is slight but enough to stabilize the board so it doesn't spin out of control during the game. We also align our boards so that the top edges of each touch, and we put our warehouse boards under our game boards to further stabilize things.

Some of the component complaints are absolutely justified. I'm not saying that I have no issues with them. However, the game is excellent and the component problems are easily mitigated in my opinion. I'm left with beautiful art, a fantastic game and few functionality issues with the components that don't bother me too much.
 
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I would just like to add, my previous post was just to bring some light hearted humour to the thread.
Infact in my opinion, z-man are top shelf for game components in general and in no way am I poking fun at a company that churns out high quality games with great customer service, as said, just trying to add some humour to the thread.
 
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biffta wrote:
It's now £2 odd cheaper than Agricola all creatures in uk.£23 uk pounds delivered. That is hefty for what sin the box, wobbly boards fixed with domed plastic fasteners is just poor.
Remedy is rubber stick on feet on each corner - should of been included in the box


Just remember - it's not the game parts you pay for, it is the game designer's work. And the graphic designer's work. And the editor's.
If you just want some wooden pieces in a box - you can get that way cheaper. But then you'll have to come up with your own rules.
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Mark O'Reilly
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Hanno wrote:
biffta wrote:
It's now £2 odd cheaper than Agricola all creatures in uk.£23 uk pounds delivered. That is hefty for what sin the box, wobbly boards fixed with domed plastic fasteners is just poor.
Remedy is rubber stick on feet on each corner - should of been included in the box


Just remember - it's not the game parts you pay for, it is the game designer's work. And the graphic designer's work. And the editor's.
If you just want some wooden pieces in a box - you can get that way cheaper. But then you'll have to come up with your own rules.


Valid point
 
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Hanno wrote:
biffta wrote:
It's now £2 odd cheaper than Agricola all creatures in uk.£23 uk pounds delivered. That is hefty for what sin the box, wobbly boards fixed with domed plastic fasteners is just poor.
Remedy is rubber stick on feet on each corner - should of been included in the box


Just remember - it's not the game parts you pay for, it is the game designer's work. And the graphic designer's work. And the editor's.
If you just want some wooden pieces in a box - you can get that way cheaper. But then you'll have to come up with your own rules.


Don't want to argue the point too much because (as I said in the review) this is a game i think is well designed and fun to play BUT...

Surely you pay for a combination of the game designers time/ideas AND the components. This is why big box games with tons of plastic minis are generally more expensive than card games, regardless of which has the more complex or elegant rules.

I agree that a well designed fun to play game with basic components is better value than a poor game with beautiful components but in this case the direct comparison is obvious.

Agricola ACBS is by the same designer and same production team. They are similar in complexity and i would be surprised if their was a big difference in the time/effort they took to design and produce. SO all these things being equal i think it reasonable to expect either similar quality components in both games OR the game with the lesser components to have a lower RRP. This, in my opinion, is not the case. Leaving The Inland Port feeling like it received less love and attention at the production stage.

Just my opinion though.
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Mark O'Reilly
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spot on Paul
 
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SpooksTheHorse wrote:
SO all these things being equal i think it reasonable to expect either similar quality components in both games OR the game with the lesser components to have a lower RRP.


There might also be an economy of scale to factor in... I would hazard a guess that a game with the Agricola name on the front would sell better than a game with Le Havre on the front.

But... at the end of the day, a company should charge whatever it can do to get an optimum income and stay in business. I don't begrudge any game company doing that -- I'm sure it's not the easiest industry to work in.
 
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We use a piece of bubble wrap under the board. Cut an inch smaller than the board so it doesnt show. Also the bubbles are of the small size, works great, also use this for ora et labora.
We play this game in about 30 minutes, find it quite awesome, and usually score in the low 200's high 100's.
Cant give this game enough praise, awesome graphics, components and mechanics. Brilliant.
 
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Anson Bischoff
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Just played my first game and it took about 30 minutes. Over an hour seems wacky.
 
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