Ring Side Report-Board Game Review of Harbour

Product– Harbour

Producer-Tasty Minstrel Games

Price– $20 here http://www.amazon.com/Tasty-Minstrel-Games-TTT3002-Harbour/dp/1938146786

Set-up/Play/Clean-up– 30 minutes (2-4 players)

Type-Euro

Depth-Light

TL; DR– This game feels like a pocket Lords of Waterdeep.  90%

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Basics-Let’s do worker placement with only one worker!  Harbor is a worker placement game where you only have one worker while you manipulate the market for fish, meat, stone, and wood to buy property and build your economic empire.  Each player gets a different role from a penny pincher to a pirate.  These cards give each of you a power, a start location, as well as a marker to keep track of your different good.  Between all the players sits the market board as well as a number of location cards.  These building each have a cost, a victory point value, possibly extra ability markers, and a power.  Each turn, players move their one meeple to a new building and do the action on the card.  These actions range from buy a building, gain some of one resource, or lose X of one resource and gain Y of another.  And that’s the entire game!  I’m not being condescending here; I’m impressed by the elegance.  What really cranks this game up to 11 is the market.  On a separate board is a market of good with the current value of meat, fish, wood, and stone.  You must have at minimum the same number of a good as the dollar value of the good.  When you move to a building that allows you to buy a property, you move the good to the sold location on the card, which is below the normal location.  You will most likely sell multiple goods at once, so multiple goods will be on the sold locations at the end of your turn if you buy.  But, the market shifts now.  Goods you didn’t sell move higher in the market, increasing their price.  The sold goods have saturated the market.  They move on the sold track to the last spots.  Since goods you sold a lot of have moved into the last spot in the sold row, good you sold more of enter the market on the lowest value as the market is now flooded.  Play continues until someone has bought their fifth building, then all players get one more turn, and the player with the most points in the harbor master!

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Mechanics– I wasn’t being glib above.  The rules are that simple, and that’s fantastic.  Also, this game has a semi-realistic economy.  If you sell a ton of something, then the market has a lot of those goods and won’t pay much for it.  I love any game with slick rules and easy grasp concept that plays quickly.  This feels like a pocket Lords of Waterdeep! 5/5

Theme– The theme isn’t bad, but it does need a bit of work.  I like the world this game is in.  It’s in the same world as Belford, and I like the way that place looks and feels.  It’s almost like the Discworld.  Also, the unique player cards do bring some story the game with all the cards have flavor text on them. That’s a good addition to a card game that adds a bit more theme to a semi dry concept of buying property and market manipulation.  Overall, it does feel like I’m a real-estate mogul in a fantasy world, but some of the simplifications does take away a bit from the theme.  This game is good, but it’s not Arkham Horror levels of immersion. 4.25/5

Instructions– The rules are simple, and they read quickly.  However they are a bit cramped and a few of the leads get buried.  On my first game, we made two fatal flaws: we multiplied the goods sold by the price and we didn’t use the center, uncontrolled buildings.  If you dig deeper into the rules, those are central to the game.  I’d like the rules to be a bit expanded and to provide a few more examples.  As it stands the rules are ok if you take the time to really read them, but you can’t just bust this game out and play in four minutes. 4.25/5

Execution– I like what comes in this box.  However, I have to whine about two things.  1-Stickers!  Tasty Minstrel Games loves to add stickers to wood.  It’s not as bad as say Village or Belford, but I hate having to put that on my stuff.  2-The card sleeves are nice, but I can’t fit my game into the game box now.  I’d like the box to be a bit bigger to accommodate the sleeved cards.  Normally, card sleeves wouldn’t be a problem as there something extra I’m adding to the game, but Tasty Minstrel Games gave out card sleeves as part of the kickstarter.  So, these are company provided.  Those things said, I do like how this game is done overall.  I like the art, the iconography, and even the wooden components.  Just give me some premade components as well as a bigger box, and I’d be thrilled! 4.5/5

Summary– This is a great game if you need something between heaver games.  It’s good in its own right, but you won’t get the two hour experience of a deep fantasy world.  That doesn’t make this game bad in any way, but it’s something to consider.  However, if you want to play a game that has about 1 minute of set-up and you’re then you’re in the middle of things, this is an awesome game.  The “realist” economy makes this game a fun puzzle, and the different races and fluff on the cards does bring you into the world of the game.  Even with having to put some stickers on wood, this is a great, quick game. 90%

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