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Ora & Labora - Board Game Box Shot

Ora & Labora

| Published: 2011
ora et labora

In Ora et Labora, each player is head of a monastery in the Medieval era that acquires land and constructs buildings – little enterprises that will gain resources and profit. The goal is to build a working infrastructure and manufacture prestigious items – such as books, ceramics, ornaments and relics – to gain the most victory points at the end of the game.

Ora et Labora, Uwe Rosenberg's fifth "big" game, has game play mechanics similar to his Le Havre, such as two-sided resource tiles that can be upgraded from a basic item to something more useful. Instead of adding resources to the board turn by turn as in Agricola and Le Havre, Ora et Labora uses a numbered rondel to show how many of each resource is available at any time. At the beginning of each round, players turn the rondel by one segment, adjusting the counts of all resources at the same time.

Each player has a personal game board. New buildings enter the game from time to time, and players can construct them on their game boards with the building materials they gather, with some terrain restrictions on what can be built where. Some spaces start with trees or moors on them, as in Agricola: Farmers of the Moor, so they hinder development until a player clears the land, but they provide resources when they are removed. Clever building on your personal game board will impact your final score, amd players can buy additional terrain during the game, if needed.

Players also have three workers that can enter buildings to take the action associated with that location. Workers must stay in place until you've placed all three. You can enter your own buildings with these workers, but to enter and use another player's buildings, you must pay that player an entry fee so that he'll move one of his workers into that building to do the work for you.

Ora et Labora features two variants: France and Ireland.

Ora et Labora

User Reviews (3)

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I play purple
180 of 193 gamers found this helpful
“You will play it three times, maybe.”

Ora et Labora (Pray and Work, the Benedictine Order slogan) is about what you expect from Agricola creator, Uwe Rosenburg, except that it isn’t. While I enjoy the game on some level, I was primarily disappointed. Here’s why…

Replay Value Isn’t There
Unless expansions start dropping like hotcakes, Ora et Labora lacks any significant replay value. The game doesn’t have random card distribution like Agricola, so each play is the same game. You can mix it up only slightly by playing the French version of the game or the Irish version, but once you’ve played both, you have played the whole game. The card distribution and options are always the same and do not change. You’ll get three good plays out of it, maybe, and then the game just becomes efficient “engine” making.

Components Are Underwhelming
If this game’s components are what’s to come from the new Z-Man, we should expect many years of let downs. The player boards, reference sheets, and extension tiles are super thin. Extend play with normal amounts of skin oils will likely prove problematic. In addition, the rondel which is easily the most icon part of the game, is super thin and requires taking apart when you want to play the game with certain combinations of players. A huge let down overall.

Complication of Scoring/Rules
This isn’t a complaint of the overall strategy involved in the game. The level of strategy is about right, in league with Agricola and other similar games. This is however a warning. This game is very complicated the first time you play it. In addition, it’s almost impossible on your first pass to grasp who is winning. Scores are generally in the 200-300 range, made up of series of small scores (5-15 pts).

In Conclusion
I do like the game, don’t get my wrong, but I’ll always like it from a distance (aka, playing other people’s copies). The game doesn’t have enough replay value (right now) to warrant a purchase. Oh, and the components are greatly lacking for the price.

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Advanced Reviewer Bronze Supporter
190 of 204 gamers found this helpful
“Pray and Play”

If you are a gamer you have probably already played Agricola or Le Havre or both. If you liked them you will most probably like Ora et Labora too. Mechanics-wise it is a similar game and it can be easily felt that it’s a work of the same designer, namely Uwe Rosenberg. In fact most of the things you encounter playing Ora et Labora are redesigns of older concepts. Even the “rondel” or “treadmill” governing the resources distribution, while looking brand new, is just a new way to apply quite a common mechanics of “+1 resource unit a turn”.

But why to change mechanics that worked very well in older games, there’s no need to alter the winning team… In fact adding a few new flavors (French and Irish, more about it later), another unusual theme, and a few new ideas can make together a very good game. A game that is – in my opinion – better than Agricola and Le Havre.

Running a medieval abbey theme combines well worker placement, limited resource management, area development, competition/cooperation dilemma, and growing possibilities. And all of that mixed together in a game that is quite easy to learn and comprehend. The process of learning is made easier by player-friendly components that are intuitive to use.

There are two variants in, as the action of the game can take place in France or Ireland. The variants are different, but once one of them is played there is no additional learning needed to switch to the second one. Unlike in Agricola where there is a “family” variant and a “full” one, here none of the variants is clearly easier. Adding such a variability to a game instead or releasing it for example as Irish-only and then adding the French version as an expansion is a welcome idea.

Ora et Labora leaves players with a great feeling of accomplishment at the end. Looking at the developed abbey, newly bought terrains, freshly constructed structures – one can sense that something noteworthy has been done. It can be felt here much better than in Agricola or Puerto Rico however not so immensely like in for example Through the Ages. But one should remember that at least two games of O&L can be completed during the time needed for one game of TtA!

Summing up – it’s a very good semimediumhalfheavyweight game. Surely worth a try.

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147 of 171 gamers found this helpful
“The Farming Game to End all Farming Games”

I have been an Uwe Rosenberg fan since Agricola came out. And while I love Agricola and have a higher chance of getting my wife to play that, Ora et Labora is in my opinion the height of Uwe’s abilities. He took all he learned from Agricola, Le Havre, and Loyang, and perfected it. Gone is the harsh reality of “eeking out a living” on a farm, where you struggle to feed your family while barely making a solid farm. In the case of Ora et Labora, you continually work to use your own buildings and the buildings of your opponents.
The number of resource chits is astounding, and while it may seem a bit dissapointing that the woodies are limited to 1 each, once you’ve played teh game, it is obvious why the publisher decided to do this. If each of the resources was made in woodies, yes, they would be a fantastic addition, but the game’s value would have doubled in price, if not tripled.

While this is not an easy game to learn, it is not as hard as Le Havre. Work your way through a turn, and you’ll be rewarded. This is not a game you’ll need to play one turn and then start over. Simply follow the rules for set-up and play, and when you’ve played through the game, go back and read all the hints that Uwe Rosenberg has personally given you. This is a game with no secret knowledge. The creator himself tells you why you would want a particular building on your lands.

If you have not had a chance to play this game, seriously consider doing so, if you’re into Farming games.
Good luck!


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