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Harbour - Board Game Box Shot


| Published: 2015
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Dockmaster Schlibble and Constable O'Brady cordially invite you to visit their bustling Harbour town. The denizens of this town are always wheeling and dealing!

Collect and trade resources as you visit the various buildings of Harbour, and cash them in to buy your way into the town. Whoever has the most points worth of buildings when the game ends, wins!

User Reviews (4)

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Explorer - Level 3
128 of 135 gamers found this helpful
“Harbour's market is the challenge”

Harbour is a small-box game from Tasty Minstrel Games. In Harbour, players buy buildings that are worth various victory points. The players earn the money to make these purchases by performing different actions that will increase the numbers of goods that they have in stock. Players will collect livestock, fish, wood, and stone. When a player has the needed goods, they can ship them, earn the money, and purchase a building. When a player purchases their 4th building, the rest of the players take their last turn and the points are totaled up.

On a turn, players can ship goods or take an action. Most of the time they will take an action. Available actions are on a number of building cards that are laid out on the table. This is like a worker placement game where taking an action blocks other players from taking that action. The main difference is that you only have one worker. When players earn enough goods, they can ship those goods based on what the market is offering at that time.

Shipping is done using a unique market mechanism where it not only sets the price, but also the demand for quantity. The four goods will each take a separate place on this track that ranges from 2 to 5 dollars. If wood is on 5 dollars, you will get $5 for the wood, but you have to have 5 wood or more to be able to sell it. If the market has wood on 2 dollars and you have 5 wood, the other three are wasted–when you ship, all of that good is shipped (with some exceptions). After you ship a good, that good is moved down the market scale and other goods are moved up. You do not collect money and save it from turn to turn. You ship goods, earn the money, and purchase a building all in the same turn. Extra money, just like extra goods, are wasted if not used at that time.

When you purchase buildings, they move in front of you. You can use the space just like the buildings in the center, but if another players wants to use one of your buildings, they will have to pay you a good to do so (with some exceptions). New buildings are drawn to replenish the center supply so there are always a lot of options for actions.

What is interesting
1- The market is a very interesting mechanism. You watch what others are doing and figure out if they are going to ship before you will be able to ship. If they are, the higher priced fish and wood are about to shift to a lower position and you should be collecting cattle and stone. If you don’t plan it right and two opponents ship before you, you might be sitting with a bunch of goods that you will only be able to ship for a small amount of money. Being able to predict where the market will be by the time you are able to accumulate the right amount of the right goods is the trick of this game.

2- There are a lot of rule changing/breaking items in this game. Some actions on the buildings will give you exceptions or changes to some rules. Players also can play with different player powers, that, again, change and break rules. This brings more interesting choices and depth to the game.

What I liked
– Turns are quick
– Planning out the market movement is a struggle that I am GOING to get at some point.
– They have a couple of ways that you can start simple and add complexity to the game. It makes it so much easier to learn as a family when you can start with the basic cards and suggested starting setup before you add in all the rule breaking elements. There is actually one more mechanism that we have yet to add and we have played it 10 times so far.

What I didn’t like
– There are a few cards I dislike. There are two that allow players to change up the market. You just worked over 4 turns to get 5 fish and 4 stone. The player in front of you notices this and takes the action that allows him to reorder the market anyway he wants. Grr- I can’t get on there and change it back because he is now blocking that space. I don’t like that card. There is another one that steals resources from each other- it just slows down the game. Other than that, I can live with the other 33 cards or so.

I am a bit addicted to this one. It seems smaller so my wife is more apt to play with me and my son. I haven’t won but I would have if only…

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I play black
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134 of 143 gamers found this helpful | Medals x 1
“Harbour review: a silly serious brain burner”

This particular generic fantasy harbour is filled with activity – giants loading huge crates of livestock onto ghost ships, enormous octopus chefs offering their clients delicious sushi, copper automatons whirring into motion to turn oaks into lumber. The air is alive with the calls of seagulls and the salty sea mist. If you pay close attention though – you can sense another smell – a smoky one. That would be brains burning as players strive to predict which goods will be in demand so that they can stockpile and sell it, staking their claim to victory. Want a tight, tense game that makes you think several turns ahead? Welcome to Harbour.

How it works:
The players are competing entrepreneurs in a fantasy harbour, trying to sell goods on a constantly fluctuating market. Selling provides money, allowing players to purchase buildings. These buildings are worth victory points and once one of the players purchases four, there is a final turn and the game wraps up – whoever collected most victory points is crowned the winner and is given a key to the harbour by a giant sentient kraken that lives offshore.

Each player has a single worker that they assign to an unoccupied building each turn. The buildings, represented by regular-sized cards, each have unique effects – either providing resources or manipulating the market. Each character card has a kind of a slider on the bottom – placing resource markers on different positions denotes how much of a given resources you currently have. Those familiar with Scott Almes’ previous Tiny Epic series will recognize the system right away.

The market card shows the current values of each of the game’s four goods (a rather unexciting set of cattle, fish, wood and stone). The higher the value – the more of a good you need before you can ship it. Once a player feels goods are ready to ship – a worker is assigned to a “ship and build” action, all resources shipped are discarded and a building can be purchased, as long as its cost can be covered by the price of shipped goods.

Following this, the market is adjusted – all goods just shipped become cheaper, while goods that were not shipped increase in price. A purchased building is still available for visiting (though a payment to the owner is now necessary) and a new “neutral” building is added from the deck.

How it plays:
The game works for one to four players and is prone to moderate to heavy analysis paralysis, which can come as a bit of a surprise, given the game’s compact format and lighthearted theme. Most of the analysis comes down to predicting the future state of the market, so that you can maximize the efficiency of your own selling (having an excess of a good does not help you – if you have five fish and you sell it – even though you only needed three – the rest is gone as well).

The fact that decisions that has to be made on each player’s turn are bite-sized (only one worker assignment) help mitigate the over-analysis problem to some extent, but it is still there. Even though the game can be reasonably interactive – it is wise to spot and thwart your opponent’s plans – this interactivity is very passive and playing Harbour is not a very social experience.

Two player games fit within 30-40 minutes, with higher player counts going up to an hour. The game feels quite different depending on the group size. Two-player format seems to be the best fit – focusing on one opponent makes for the most meaningful competition. In three and four player games, the planning becomes significantly more difficult – turning this game into either a gong show where people resign concrete planning and just go with the flow; or a total brain burner where you try your best to understand how much wood is going to cost three turns from now. There is also a solo version where you play against a hapless training dummy, but it really lacks the tense competitive feel of playing against a person. The dummy does not offer much of a challenge at all, however it is a good mode to learn the game for the first time.

How it feels:
Harbour leaves you with a strange, conflicted feeling. On one hand – it is a very smart little game with meaningful decisions and ability to interact with others by anticipating and foiling their plans. On another – there is a decided lack of excitement. The effects of many buildings seem equivalent and the abundance of “take any resource” effects leads to a kind of a complacency. Where in Lords of Waterdeep blocking access to a desired kind of adventurer is a major strategy – you would not do well trying this in Harbour. Given that getting what you want is always possible – it comes down to eking out an advantage in how you get it. Finding small benefits of doing things a certain way is rewarding, but certainly not exciting.

Somehow, despite a seeming variety in available buildings, all of them end up feeling very much the same. The same cannot be said for the rich selection of character roles that come with the game – the special abilities and difference in “default” action that they offer are interesting and offer a rich potential for replayability.

Amidst all this serious thinking that you are going to be doing, the cheerful silly art on the cards will help lighten the mood somewhat. The humour in these is very good and is a definite strong point of the game.

Harbour is a good game – very compact, appealing in presentation, tightly designed, offers interesting choices and balance. Yet somehow, amidst all of these – the fun is not there. If your taste in games lies with the smarter offerings, geared towards planning and optimization – you will enjoy Harbour. If, however, you seek excitement and chance – you should probably cast your anchor elsewhere.

If you enjoyed this review please consider visiting Altema Games website for more neat board game materials.

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Plaid Hat Games fan
AEG fan
Tasty Minstrel Games Fan
85 of 93 gamers found this helpful
“A short 1- and 2-player field report”

I backed this game on Kickstarter and was very excited to add a light weight ‘worker placement’ to my collection. The box almost too small with all the stuff from the campaign.

I played the game a few times solo to get the feel of the game.
The “Training Dummy” (as the 1-player opponent is called) don’t work much more than a way to learn the game by your self. Everyone that has played a ‘worker placement’ solo game know that the goal is to get above a certain score or “win” the game in less than a named couple of rounds etc. That aint my cup of tea to be honest. But a few games to learn the game so you can teach others is ok.

Unfortunately the 2-player version didn’t give me much either. You do one move and your opponent does one. At the start you have 5 starting buildings up, and the variety of what you can do aint that big (the KS version of the game comes with 36 buildings). Even when then game proceedes there are some actions that are so much better than others, so it’s quite obvious what you wanna do and in evry game we’ve ended up jumping back and forth between a few buildings.

Further, when you buy buildings (the first player to 4 buildings win the game) the choices aren’t that many since the math is easy. Since that game is played fast yuou just have tofind the building providing you with the most VP at the best cost you can afford right now. And then the market is turned upside down (the resource the was worth most becomes the resource with the lowest worth).

A third thing that fails with few players is the synergies between the buildings you buy (each building is categorized Coin, Top Hat, Anchor or Warehouse – some have 2). With few buildings in play the exciting synergies that is in this game (‘cuz they have a great potential) almost never get in play. A “quick fix” for this can be to make the game longer than ‘the first player to 4 buildings’, but with 2 players the options are still few.

I haven’t played with 3 or 4 players, but would really like to experience the full game with 4 player to see the full potential. I’ve only got a glimps of it so far (due to few players), and it feels frustrating to see the possibilites without being able to try them all out.

I might change my score of the game later but now it’s 6 – and the reason it gets so high for me is because of the promise of a greater game with 4 players.

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30 of 55 gamers found this helpful
“Gain resources to buy, quick fun game.”

I have the kickstarter version that has more buildings than the regular boxed version so it has more options. You have a track and it has the 4 resources and their values ranging from $2 -$5 depending on where they are on the track with 1 resource per value. On your turn you can rise money by selling resources. While you sell the value of a good at that value-i.e. I can sell 2 of the $2 goods by taking the action any extra goods of that type are usually then lost. Your action i taken by placing your marker on a building. Everybody has their own building that allows you to gain 1 good type. However, you must always start your turn by moving to a new building and that is your action for the turn. Additionally, normally, no 2 markers can occupy the same space. You have tracks on your home card so you can see how much of each good you have. You then sell them in any combination to pay for a building or buildings. As I said earlier selling a good wipes out all of that good but only earns money for a quantity equal to the value. So if I have 5 of the $2 good I gain $4 but lose all 5 goods. When a player finishes their purchase(s) the market sets to new values using a set rotation system. Each building has a cost and victory point value as well as a game effect. For someone else to use your building will cost them a good(whether you can use it or not) and the game ends when someone has built 4 buildings. This is a good 3-4 player game but not to good at 1-2 players.


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