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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Tuesday 9 January 2018

Old McDonald had a farm, then the Orcs came:- Harvest

Game: Harvest

Publisher: Tasty Minstrel Games

Designer: Trey Chambers

Year: 2017

Harvest is a 2-4 player worker placement game in which you run a farm in a fantasy world. During the game you'll have to collect seeds, fertilizer, water and even magic potions in order to plant and grow crops. You'll also need to expand your farm, adding new fields that you can plant on, buildings that help you be more efficient.

At the start of a game of Harvest each player is given 2 workers and a random player character. You can choose to use the basic player character, who has no special ability but gains bonus points at the end of the game, or the advanced character on the other side which gives each player a unique power that they can use throughout the game. The powers are all interesting and powerful. I constantly found myself jealous of my rival's abilities, all the while fully abusing my own power. Depending on the character you choose you will also get some starting goods, usually fertilizer, water and some beans.

At the start of each round of Harvest 1 action card is placed for each player, these cards tend to be very good spots, but you may not want the exact combination of goods/actions they offer. During the round there are 3 main spots on the board that you can use in addition to these action cards, all of these allow for 2 actions for the first player to go there, and then 1 action for following players. The labor market allows you to harvest your plants (take them off the fields), plant new plants on the field by using fertilizer and seeds, or tend your plants using water to duplicate them. The general store allows you to buy goods and seeds, some of the better seeds and potions cost victory points to buy. You may find yourself planting cheaper plants so that you can harvest them and use them to buy potions and better seeds! Finally the land office allows you to extend your farm, adding 2 new locked field slots, replace a locked field slot with a field, or pay 2 victory points to replace a locked field slot with a building.

The main board has limited spaces for the best actions, the action cards help give you extra options, but these two both had a heft victory point card to use.

Harvest does a great job of fitting a lot into a small package. Let's be clear, you aren't getting a game that's going to rival the complexities of Agricola, but there aren't many worker placements that you can crank out in 30 minutes! The theme is fantasy, but taken completely non-seriously, the main board, buildings and characters all ooze with personality, and more than a few gaming references are hidden about. You can't grumble at component quality, plants are all double sided tokens (seed one side, plant the other), while water, potions and... fecal matter all have distinctive wooden tokens. 

For a small game there are a good number of wooden tokens. If your ragequit the game you can always hurl fertilizer at each other until you feel better.

Harvest keeps things tough using the limit of only getting 2 workers per round in a fixed round game. This really makes you strive to be efficient and means that every choice is meaningful. Harvest really fits into a niche for me, I love worker placement games, especially farming ones. I really enjoy Agricola, adore Caverna and desperately want to get Fields of Arle back to the table. But they never come out because they are all a hassle to get set up on the table, for a game that's a bit longer than I often have time for. Harvest is quick to set up, quick to play, and scratches that same itch.


Harvest was a review copy provided by Esdevium Games Ltd. It is available for an RRP of £39.99 at your friendly local game store or can be picked up at http://www.365games.co.uk/.

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