Saturday, December 13, 2014

Systems Saturday - Le Havre (2008)

After playing another game of Le Havre (2008) yesterday, I did a quick look through my website and couldn't find an instance where I wrote up anything about the game before.  I had been sure I had done so but apparently not.  Anyway, it's time to fix that.

Wendy,Tom, and I broke out Tom's copy of the game on a Friday afternoon at Culver's in Lake Geneva, WI, all having played the game before, though Tom had the most experience and Wendy only having played a couple of time.  None of us had played since last August, perhaps because there are many great games available these days.  Even those of us who get to multiple gamedays of conventions each month and manage a couple/few additional gaming sessions a week  can still go months without playing a favorite.  And make no mistake, I consider Le Havre a favorite.

The description from Board Game Geek is as follows:
In Le Havre, a player’s turn consists of two parts: First, distribute newly supplied goods onto the offer spaces; then take an action. As an action, players may choose either to take all goods of one type from an offer space or to use one of the available buildings. Building actions allow players to upgrade goods, sell them or use them to build their own buildings and ships. Buildings are both an investment opportunity and a revenue stream, as players must pay an entry fee to use buildings that they do not own. Ships, on the other hand, are primarily used to provide the food that is needed to feed the workers.
After every seven turns, the round ends: players’ cattle and grain may multiply through a Harvest, and players must feed their workers. After a fixed number of rounds, each player may carry out one final action, and then the game ends. Players add the value of their buildings and ships to their cash reserves. The player who has amassed the largest fortune is the winner.

Though one of us got boxed out a bit and fell behind, the other two wound up in a game that was won by a mere five points (165 / 160).  The two higher scores were achieved using quite different strategies.  One player skipped the chance to build wooden ships, focusing on cornering the iron market early and taking advantage of the Wainwright when it came up to secure an excellent revenue stream.  The other player diversified in ship building and cornered the fish market and related buildings but also snatched up the Luxury Liner toward the end of the game, a move that probably led to the five-point victory.  The two strategies likely kept opponents in check indirectly but neither would be considered directly aggressive.  One of the beautiful things about Le Havre is that it can be played with an eye toward competition but can also be played more subtly.

A look under the hood of various Games, Rules and Systems.
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