Wednesday, May 28, 2014

More Harbour

After a few more days of playing, I have more thoughts about Harbour

For one thing I have played my first four player game.

Four player games:
Playing with four players makes the game a little more difficult to plan for, but not that much.

The pacing of the game is slightly slower in a 4 player game, but still not boring. Sadly enough you cannot fully plan for your turn during other player's turns since their turns have a high chance of changing your plans.

Some cards (tax office, and abbey) seem to have different power levels based on the number of players. The weakest point for the tax office card is at 3 players (where you get only two goods, but get to pick neither of them) The abbey card seems to be best in a 2 player game.

As I haven't played a statistically significant number of games I am in no position of authority to make the above statement, but that is the way that it feels to me.

Market Alteration:
If you use an action to change the market it is less likely with four players that the market will get back to you in an unaltered state. This means that you really have to focus more on getting lots of different types of goods than on controlling the market.

In a two player game with my wife she commented how the game is very different without a market changing card (which is true). I think that not having any cards to change the market in a two player game tends to make the game less fun, however having cards that change the market in a four player game seems less useful than it does in a two player game.

The base cards only have one market alteration card, so it is unlikely that you will get one unless the stretch goals get unlocked.

Snowballing:
It seems like an especially good idea in this game to pursue one strategy to the exclusion of all others. Getting all of the coin cards makes your buildings cost so much less that you can buy a building every two or three turns. Getting all of the warehouses or anchors makes you able to get so much more out of each action than everyone else that you need fewer actions to prepare for a buy (warehouses are also good in helping your recuperation time.)

This is not, however, true when looking at getting multiple hats. I almost wish that you could get a bonus point at the end of the game for each additional hat that you have (because sometimes you have a hat and want to buy another hat building just to prevent other players from getting or using it).

Concerning Hats:
Players that start with a hat have a big advantage in the early game. They can visit other players action cards and force the other players to play on their home action at times. By the middle of the game that advantage wears off (and is replaced by the advantage of the guy that starts with an anchor, coin, or warehouse).

Breaking the game:
I have been trying to break the game (as all playtesters should), and think that I have a pretty strong strategy. It would take more play to determine if the game is actually broken by it or not, but it seems as if the player that buys the more expensive buildings tends to win.

This might seem like a stupid insight, but if you ever have a chance to buy a decent building right now or a great building next turn you might be best to hold out for the great one.

A player that ends the game with four seven or less cost buildings has a maximum possible score of 27 points. The lowest score possible with three ten cost buildings is 26 points. The average score of three ten cost buildings is 29 points. The best possible score with three ten cost buildings is 31 points. You probably get the picture, but the game seems to benefit the player who holds out for a big buy a few turns later.

Relative card value:
The best card in the game from a purely cost to point ratio is the fish market. It also has a decent ability and a pretty good symbols. The other good cards from a cost to point value are:

ratio card
1.18 Fish Market
1.1 Traders guild
1.09 Abbey

Pub and ranch have the lowest point to cost ratio at .71 (which probably makes them bad cards to buy). Pub has a good ability, and ranch might have a good ability (depending on how many anchors you have).

Another conclusion:
The game is still a fun game after more plays. I will continue to post more updates as I think of more things.