Harbour is a game for 1 to 4 players, designed by Scott Almes (designer of Tiny Epic Kingdoms, Kings of Air and Steam, and the very cute looking Best Treehouse Ever) and published by Tasty Minstrel Games.
Players are entrepreneurs in the harbour town of Gullsbottom collecting, trading and manipulating a market of fish, livestock, wood and stone in an effort to buy buildings that provide victory points.
The many different characters and races will seem familiar to fantasy/adventure players but the game is really more of an economic game. The humour on the cards is playful and fun, and the artwork is fantastic. All that and the bit of flavour text on the cards help to add theme and whimsy to what is otherwise a serious, thoughtful medium-weight, Euro-style game.
Set-up time is extremely short and lets you jump right in and start having fun.
Harbour is a worker placement game where players have only ONE worker.
Play is simple and fast. Players move their worker from building to building collecting resources and cashing them in to buy other buildings from the central line up of cards. Place your worker, take one action, possibly ship resources and buy a building.
Workers can be placed on the player’s own starting building, any of the building cards in the middle of the table or on one of the buildings in front of another player to collect resources.
Purchased buildings are placed in front of you and continue to function as a building that you –and other players – can use to collect or trade resources. Players that use a building that you have purchased must pay you a “toll” for the use.
The core of Harbour is the market and how players manipulate it. The value of a good in the market is also the number of goods you are required to have to sell that good. Adding a further wrinkle: Every time a building is purchased, the value of the resources used to pay for the building will go down and the value of the other resources will increase. Successfully influencing the market and timing your purchases is key.
The game ends when a player has purchased a fourth building. Players receive points for the buildings they own. Whomever has the most points wins the game.
I love it! It’s a pretty small game (in terms of shelf space) but it provides a pretty big punch. It is easy to learn and play but still offers a lot of planning and choices. It can be a bit of brain burner and that might mean some “Analysis Paralysis” for certain players but I think the dynamic nature of the market should mitigate most of that.
Set-up time is extremely short and lets you jump right in and start having fun. It’s not a very long game so you can play few games in a couple hours (games will probably get faster as players are familiar with some of the many buildings in the game).
The number of buildings used in each game is relatively small compared to the size of the deck that the game comes with so this offers a lot of variety for future plays.
With so many dramatic changes in the market, I can see how this game might frustrate some people. It’s not uncommon for you to plan to buy a certain building and set yourself up for a purchase but by the time it is your turn the winds of the market have changed and the value of your resources are not what you had planned for. And as such you can no longer make your purchase. But for me that frustration is part of the fun.
The game comes with a BUNCH of different character roles (providing unique abilities) and building cards (providing lots of different options and actions) so I think this game will give me a lot of variety of play for years to come. Well worth the "small-game" price-tag!