16 Aug

A game of Le Havre

Filed under: Boardgames,Strategy Guides No Responses

I’ve been a bit remiss in updating recently, mostly because I’ve been distracted by arranging to sell my Magic: The Gathering collection. I will be visiting Kuala Lumpur for a few days in September and I thought I’d arrange to meet buyers then. At this point, suffice to say that I seem to have greatly underestimated the value of my collection. The response has been more enthusiastic than I anticipated and the sale has turned into an auction. I guess that explains why so many people offered to buy my cards in the comments section of this post. It will make for an interesting blog post once the deal is over and done with.

In the meantime, I managed to play a two-player game of Le Havre with my wife over the weekend and have some thoughts about it. It has been so long since we last played that we’d forgotten quite a lot. Both of us made an error in planning as we looked at the last round card and thought we had one extra round before the end of the game when in fact turning over the last round card should signal one last action for all players and that the final Luxury Ship could only be bought as that last action. This meant that some actions turned out to be wasted, contributing to low scores.

At the end, I lost the game by a large margin, 230 points versus 148 points, because I tried to test a very silly premise: how far can you get in a game of Le Havre without building any ships? Instead, I concentrated on getting buildings and basically ignored food requirements by resorting to loans. Due to this race, almost all of the buildings were constructed fairly quickly. Of the most important buildings, Shan managed to snag the Shipping Line, the Brickworks the Ironworks while I got the Colliery, the Wharf, the Cokery and the Steel Mill.

I’d thought I’d gotten a pretty good deal and Shan did end up paying me quite a lot over the rounds using these key buildings, but by the time I had amassed eight loans and still had zero ships, I knew I was in trouble. I had to waste many actions getting food, by slaughtering cows, baking bread, getting fish and smoking them etc. Basically two of my actions every round was devoted solely to getting food to avoid piling up even more loans. In the meantime, the free food provided by Shan’s ships allowed her plenty of freedom of action to capitalize on opportunities.

Towards the end, I even had to build a Wooden Ship when Steel Ships were already out and the only way I could pay off my loans was by selling buildings. So lesson learned: the rulebook means what it says that you shouldn’t try to win a game of Le Havre without ships. People often say that this game’s upkeep costs are so much more forgiving than Agricola, but I learned in this session that if you put it off for too long, you better have a really solid plan for getting things back on track.

Written on August 16 2010 and is filed under Boardgames, Strategy Guides. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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