Le Havre board game review

Le Havre

Le Havre was published in 2008 by Lookout Games, a German board game publisher. Among other games, the company published the board game Agricola, which could be called the predecessor of Le Havre. In 2013, the American company Z-Man Games published its edition of Le Havre, which included Le Grand Hameau expansion.

Le Havre was designed by Uwe Rosenberg, a famous German game designer who first became known for his card game Bohnanza. His major success is the game Agricola. Illustrations of Le Havre were done by the Austrian game artist Klemens Franz. He is known for his paintings is such games as Agricola 1853 and Orleans (2014)

Inside the box

Game Components

  • 1 Rules booklet;
  • 1 Rules appendix: Buildings overview;
  • 3 Game Boards;
  • 5 Person discs (1 in each player color);
  • 5 Ship markers (1 in each player color);
  • 110 cards:
    • 33 Standard Building cards;
    • 36 Special Building cards;
    • 20 Round/Ship cards;
    • 11 Loan cards;
    • 5 Game Turn/Buttery cards;
  • 420 tokens:
    • 48 “1 Franc” coins;
    • 30 “5 Franc” coins;
    • 60 cattle/meat tokens;
    • 60 grain/bread tokens;
    • 30 iron/steel tokens;
    • 42 clay/brick tokens;
    • 48 wood/charcoal tokens;
    • 42 fish/smoked fish tokens;
    • 30 coal/coke tokens;
    • 30 hides/leather tokens;
  • 7 Supply tiles;
  • 16 Food Production tokens;
  • 1 Starting Player marker.

Le Havre Unboxed

Gameplay

Le Havre is an economic strategy board game. The gameplay takes place in the harbour of Le Havre (The Harbour), a port city in Northwest France.

The principle of the game is rather simple. A player’s turn consists of two steps: first, distribute newly supplied goods onto the Offer spaces; second, take an action. As an action, you may choose either to take all goods of one type from an Offer space or to use one of the buildings. Buildings allow players to upgrade goods, sell them or use them to build ships and new buildings. Buildings provide an investment opportunity as well as a revenue stream, as all players pay an entry fee to use buildings owned by somebody else. The main use of ships, on the other hand, is to provide the food to feed the workers.

The round ends after seven turns: a Harvest increases your grain and cattle reserves, and it is time for you to feed your workers. After a fixed number of rounds, each player takes one final action, and then the game ends. Players add the value of their buildings and ships to their cash reserves. The player with the largest fortune is the winner.

Le Havre Gameplay

Rules

There are two stages in the game: Round stage and Final stage. Each round consists of 7 turns (so, during one round different players make different numbers of turns). During the Final stage, all players carry out their final actions.

Round stage

Each turn consists of a Supply action, a Main action (these are Mandatory actions) and optional Additional actions.

During a Supply action, new goods are placed on the corresponding Offer space. Then the player may either take all the goods from one of the seven Offer spaces or use a building action. Most buildings allow you to take a specific action. You can turn raw goods into their refined counterparts, ship goods off, convert goods of one type into another, build ships and so on.

Additional actions include buying and selling Building cards or Ship cards.

At the end of a round, it is time for Harvest and Feeding. You receive grain and cattle. Then you have to feed your workers. Owning ships helps to do that: every ship you own reduces the amount of food you have to pay the number shown on the ship card. If you cannot provide enough food, you can sell a building or take a Loan card.

The number of rounds to be played depends on how many players are in the game and which version of the game you are playing: full or shortened. The number varies from 4 (1 player, shortened version) to 20 (4 or 5 players, full version).

Final stage

Each player has one more turn to make and carries out their Final action. It is like the Main action from the Round stage, but you cannot take Supply and Buying actions.

End of the Game

The richest player wins. To calculate your wealth you add your cash and values of your buildings and ships, then deduct the loans you have not repaid.

Le Havre Solo Game

Buildings

There are five types of buildings:

  • Craftsman’s buildings;
  • Economic buildings;
  • Industrial buildings;
  • Public buildings;
  • Non-buildings (The Marketplace, Clay Mound and Black Market).

There are 33 Standard buildings and 36 Special buildings. For each game, only 6 Special buildings are laid out.

Design

The board serves as a repository for basic materials (Fish, Wood, Francs, Clay, Iron, Cows, Grain and Coal). It consists of three separate pieces which are put together during play. The player pieces are made of painted wood. The goods are made on sturdy stock and have colorful images that make them easily recognizable and distinct.

Misprints

In the Australian English Edition of the game the following misprints have been found:

  1. On the card used in Round 11 of the full game (round 9 of the short game), there should be a symbol showing that the town builds a standard building.
  2. On the 2 player Round summary card for the full game, a town building in round 8 is missing.
  3. The 4 player summary card (round 7) states «iron ship» instead of «wooden».

You can download a PDF containing fixes for these cards.

iOS version

Le Havre has been released as an iOS app. It allows you to play online as well as have a local Multiplayer game on your iPad.

Le Havre iOS App Screenshot

The design of the computerized version is similar to that of the cardboard one. The advantage of playing the game on a screen is that you do not have to do the preliminary work of putting all the cards into their places, which may seem tedious to some players.

The application has a tutorial mode that allows you to master the rules of the game and the usage of the application itself. Also, you can play against AI opponents with different levels of difficulty.

 

Expansions

Essen Promo Cards

Le Havre Essen Promo Cards

At the Essen Game Fair of 2008, Lookout Games introduced a promo pack for Le Havre containing 12 Special Building cards (Dunny, Worker’s Cottages, Construction site, Logging Camp, MS Dagmar, Pawnbroker’s, Pirate’s Lair, Junkyard, Divebar, Picket Line, Tobacco Factory, Cattle Drive). This pack is available to anyone making a donation to Farmers Help Farmers.

Le Grand Hameau (“The Big Village”)

Le Havre Le Grand Hameau

Le Grand Hameau expansion contains a deck of 30 new Special Building cards plus 3 cards with fixes for misprints in the base version. This deck could either replace the original Special Buildings deck or be mixed with it.

Rattletrap car, Wholesale Bakery and Tablet with App are special promo cards for Le Grand Hameau deck.

Similar Games (, Caylus)

Agricola
The game has often been compared with Agricola and Caylus. Uwe Rosenberg, the designer of the game, admits himself that Le Havre is a remixed version of Agricola and owes a lot to Caylus.
Caylus

However, many players who played Le Havre after Agricola preferred Le Havre. It lasts longer and gives players more time to accomplish their goals. In comparison to Agricola, Le Havre is a more varied game, although it has fewer cards and simpler game mechanics.

FAQ

Q: How long does it take to play Le Havre with different numbers of players?

A: The rule book states the following: 1 player – 60 minutes, 2 players – 120 minutes, 3 players – 180 minutes, 4 players – 200 minutes, 5 players – 210 minutes. Of course, the time strongly depends on how familiar with the rules all the players are. If there are new players who do not know how to play the game, the time may increase largely.

Q: Is Le Havre a good board game for one player?

A: Le Havre is designed so that it could be enjoyed by a single player. The benefit is you can spend as much time as you want thinking about every turn.

Q: How does Le Havre compare with Agricola?

A: Le Havre is more complex than Agricola. Le Havre was designed to improve the Agricola experience for players who find it too easy. Also, in Le Havre less is left to the chance.

Q: Does the iOS version support solo playing?

A: Yes, it does. Playing on iOS by yourself you can choose either to play against AI opponents or play a 1-player game.

Le Havre Boats

Youtube

Conclusion

Le Havre provides a very satisfying gaming experience for someone who likes economic strategies. The variety of possible tactics used by players and combinations of the cards is so rich the game does not become dull even after you have played it several times. There are no clear instructions on how to win the game: even for an experienced player every turn of Le Havre holds so many possibilities the best one is never obvious.

Drawbacks of the game include a lot of time you can spend laying out all the cards before the game and a lot of time a player can spend thinking about each turn. Every time there is a great choice of what a player can do and it can be challenging to make your decision quickly.

Anyway, if you enjoy games like Agricola and Caylus, it is definitely worth to check out Le Havre. You can buy it on Amazon.