Welcome to The Game Shelf!

After getting into the board game hobby at the end of 2014, we've decided to share our thoughts on the games we're collecting on our shelves. The collection has certainly expanded over the last few years and we've been making up for lost time!

Sometimes our opinions differ, so Amy will be posting reviews every Tuesday and Fi will post on Thursdays. We hope you enjoy reading some of our opinions on board games - especially those for two players.

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Thursday 20 August 2015

Thoughts from the Yellow Meeple:- Harbour

Game Title: Harbour

Designer: Scott Almes

Manufacturer: Tasty Minstrel Games

Year: 2015

One thing our collection lacks is small games and filler games. That’s why I picked up Harbour as one of our first ‘micro-games’. Harbour is always slipped into the bag to take to a board game group and has travelled with us on holiday and fits nicely in the tiny gaps remaining on our game shelves.

Harbour is a very light worker placement game where players move from building to building to obtain and trade Fish, Livestock, Wood and Stone. At an opportune moment players will cash in these resources at the Market to buy buildings which are worth victory points and offer special bonuses. Owning a more powerful building can also mean that other players must pay to use its ability.
The ‘board’ is made up of a number of central building cards. On your turn you can assign your one worker to any building card and perform its action. Typically building cards allow you to increase your total goods by 1 or in rare cases 2, by trading other goods away eg. trade one Fish for 1 Wood, 1 Stone and 1 Livestock or can simply give you 1 or 2 resources. A player may also chose to assign their worker to their Starting Building which allows them to either build a building or perform their personal ability.

The Wharfs are the basic starting building which can be used for a simpler game where players do not have unique special abilities and unique starting buildings.
One you think you have accrued enough resources and choose the building action, you must sell your goods at the market. The market is variable – at any one time, one good is worth $2, one is worth $3, one is $4 and one is $5. You must have 5 of a resource to be able to sell the $5 worth good at the market and so on. If you choose to sell a good, you must sell your whole supply of this good. With the total money you obtain, plus any coin symbols you have on any of the buildings you own, you may buy one building from the central tableau. The market is then reset and those resources which were not bought move to the top slots, whilst those which were bought are de-valued. The market can also be manipulated by other players as an action on certain buildings.
The 2-player game setup. Both players have bought two buildings and purple is about to buy two buildings using Livestock and Fish for a total of $7.
Only one worker may be assigned to a building at any one time and a player worker is not removed until their next turn. Because of this players may deliberately block buildings to prevent other players from using them. The game ends when the first player has built 4 buildings. The other players then each get one more turn and the victor, or ‘Harbor Master’ is the player with the most victory points.

This is certainly not a great worker placement game, but for the box size (4x6x1.5 inches), there is a good game packed in there. The two player game is very quick and strategic, because there is more chance to plan your turns, since the market cannot often be heavily manipulated. With 3 or 4 players, there is a lot more randomness and it feels like you should just collect the most possible goods and then see what you can buy when it gets to your turn. Harbour will probably remain in our collection for the foreseeable future simply because it is compact, but it is definitely a holiday or travel game for us and will not come out regularly at home.

I can only give the game a 6/10 for gameplay. I enjoy it enough, but don’t really want to play a game that lasts longer than 30-40 minutes.

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