Harbour is a micro-euro, worker placement game, being put on Kickstarter, this month, by Tasty Minstrel Games. The game was designed by Scott Almes, the designer behind another popular micro game, Tiny Epic Kingdoms.
In Harbour, players move their worker from building to building, each turn, using the buildings’ actions to load up on a supply of stone, wood, fish and livestock. When enough resources are collected, the player can choose to place his worker on a building that has the special ability to allow him buy one of the buildings. Players buy a building by declaring which resources he’s shipping. Those resources are worth $2, $3, $4, or $5, individually. To be able to ship the resources for those prices, players must have the matching quantity of the specific resource you are trying to ship. For example, if wood is worth $5, you must have 5 wood in your inventory, before you’re able to ship the resources away for $5. The amount of money you get for each resource is random at the beginning of the game, and it changes quite frequently throughout the game. Once a player ships resources, all non-shipped goods get moved to the most expensive slots available. The value for each shipped resource changes so the most valuable resource that was shipped becomes the least valuable, and so on.
Buildings that each player owns, give various amounts of victory points at the end of the game. Just by owning buildings, players will also deter opponents from wanting to use these building’s special abilities, as each time they use one of your buildings, they allow you to gain a resource.
Of course there are plenty of special actions on each of these building cards, each different from the rest. Each player is also given a unique player card at the start of the game, which has its own special abilities, such as being allowed to play on others’ buildings without giving them a resource. Each player card has a building combined with it. These attached buildings typically give you resources and allow you to buy a building.
The first player to buy 4 buildings, triggers the final turn for everyone. After that, the victory points are tallied up, and the winner is decided.
Now it’s time for our opinions on the game:
Harbour adds a nice shipping theme to a pretty straight-forward worker placement mechanic and packs it all into a micro sized final product. It’s definitely not going to eat up hours of your time to play. A few layout and wording changes could be made to make the instructions easier to understand, but other than that, the game, as a whole, felt pretty solid. The game pieces provided to us were just extra pieces from other Tasty Minstrel titles, but we’d imagine the final product will include high quality pieces. The card art was fantastic. Excellent illustration. If you’re looking to add a micro worker placement game to your collection, you should definitely consider backing Harbour.
Harbour has quite a number of mechanics and features that make you think just a bit harder about your next move before you take it. Variable market prices for goods, dynamic action outcomes, player opposition, risk vs. reward, resource management and perfect timing make Harbour a game that is packed with replayability. We had a great time, cutting off each other’s supply of goods to capitalize on a market that could change with the drop of a token. Our character abilities gave both of us a slight advantage in certain areas of the game as we chose specific paths that would either yield great rewards or result in marginal losses that matter in the long run.
While the mechanics of Harbour are not revolutionary, the simplicity of the actions are similar to Agricola rewarding the player a similar experience with much less complexity. Place your player token on a card to gather resources, store them, and save up for buildings that earn you victory points and special benefits that bring higher yields as the game progresses.
With greater than two players, your decisions become incredibly more difficult to make with three additional cards on top of the number of players. Making the decision to run with a strategy too early on in the game and you could fall prey to the ever-changing atmosphere of advantageous cards. But wait too long to form your plan, and you’ll find yourself falling behind while others are yielding double and triple per turn what you are. Carefully plot your moves, react to your opponents stepping on your toes, and attack their own plans as you struggle to build the structures awarding the most VP.