I passed on playing this Wolfgang Kramer title during the Spiel in Essen as I knew it would be released in English by Rio Grande Games. Plus, it was a Kramer game, which almost always translates into a mandatory purchase.
The buzz around Essen was mixed, with some folks singing the praises of Hacienda, while others were lukewarm. Some were making comparisons to Through the Desert, which only further heightened my interest. So, when Kevin listed Hacienda as one of his Christmas gifts, I begged him to bring it to our gaming session.
Since I don’t yet own the game and I’ve only played once, I’ll omit a detailed description. It does have some loose similarities to Knizia’s Through the Desert, but for the most part it seems to stand on its own. Players acquire cards in a drafting mechanism, but must pay for them. Money can be tight, and is earned by connecting herds of animals to marketplaces. The more animals and connected grazing lands, the more money that will be earned.
Players also earn victory points by having their animals adjacent to watering holes, as well as by forming large land masses. Even more points can be earned by connecting to as many markets as possible, with the points being earned increasing dramatically with each new market reached.
It took me awhile to get the hang of the game, and the various strategies. I scored very poorly in the first half, and was solidly in last place. I performed much better in the second half, but so did my opponents. Alison and Dave were within one-point of each other following the first scoring, but Kevin’s experience surfaced in the second half as he swept past them to claim the victory.
Round 1: Alison 30, Dave Ott 29, Kevin 26, Greg 18
Round 2: Kevin 87, Alison 84, Dave 84, Greg 73
Ratings: Kevin 9, Alison 9, Dave 7, Greg 7