This time we are going to take a look at another economical strategy called «Ora et Labora». It was published by «Z-man Games» and designed by well known board game developer Uwe Rosenberg («Le Havre», «Agricola» and etc.) By the way, meaning of the name of this game dates back to the Ancient Greece. It means «Pray and Work».
«Ora et Labora» has the same game mechanisms similar to «Le Havre» and «Agricola». «Ora et Labora» uses a numbered circle to show what quantity of resource is available. At the beginning of each round, players turn the circle by one section. It adjusts the counts of all resources at the certain time.
Players have three workers and they can enter buildings to make the action connected with that location. Workers stay in place until you’ve placed all of them. You can use your buildings with these workers but to enter and use another player’s buildings you must pay an entry fee to that player.
«Ora et Labora» proposes two variants: France and Ireland.
Inside the box
- Two game boards
- Two production wheels
- One hundred and ten cards
- 41 double-sided building cards (with France on one side and Ireland on the other),
- 32 settlement cards (a set of 8 different settlements for each player),
- 37 forest cards with moor on their back sides
- Four hundred and fifty goods tiles
- 40 “peat“ tiles with “peat coal“ on their reverse sides
- 40 “livestock“ tiles with “meat“ on their reverse sides
- 45 “grain“ tiles with “straw“ on their reverse sides
- 45 “wood“ tiles (with “whiskey“ on their reverse sides only used in the Ireland variant)
- 55 “clay“ tiles with “ceramic“ on their reverse sides
- 45 “1 coin“ tiles with “book“ on their reverse sides
- 30 “5 coins“ tiles with “reliquary“ on their reverse sides
- 40 “stone“ tiles with “ornament“ on their reverse sides
- 30 “grapes“ tiles with “wine“ on their back sides (only with the France variant)
- 30 “flour“ tiles with “bread“ on their reverse sides (only in the France variant)
- 40 “malt“ tiles with “beer“ on their reverse sides (only in the Ireland variant)
- 8 “Wonder” tiles with “5x“ markers on their reverse sides
- 2 starting player markers (for the three and four player game, one each for France and Ireland)
- Twenty two landscapes
- Twenty two wood pieces
- Four game summaries
- One scoring pad
- Two rulebooks
- One building/settlement index
Some players say that rules in «Ora et Labora» are not quite clear. Let’s discuss it – each player starts with a 2×5 space heartland landscape on which he can build many buildings that are useable by each player. All of the landscapes can be purchased so that each player can have a small territory. It can be stretched from the coast and to the mountains. The winner is the person who has the most valuable territory at the end of the game.
«Ora et Labora» has two rulebooks – general and detailed. General book is for basics and detailed one is useful for unusual situations and questions.
Each player starts with the basic goods. These are Coin, Peat, Livestock, Grain, Wood and Clay.
The players should choose what fraction they want to play – France or Ireland. Sort the building cards in three stages. First, you should remove all cards with a 4 in their lower right hand corner from the game. It’s for the three player’s mode. For a two player mode you should also remove all cards with a 3+. Then make sure that each card is turned to the side of the chosen country (France or Ireland). The correct side can be differentiated by the images in the upper right corner – a fleur de lis for France and a clover for Ireland. (Many cards show the same building on both sides.) At the end of the day, you should sort the buildings due to the letters. Letters A, B, C and D mean corresponding game stages.
These rules can be applied only to the three and four player modes. For the short version of the game please look at the pages 7 and 8 of the rulebook.
The Basic Buildings
All players begin with the same three basic buildings – the cloister office, the clay mound and the farmyard. In the game process many other buildings will be added. The basic buildings can give the players the basic goods. These are – Coin, Peat, Livestock, Grain, Wood and Clay.
Course of a Round
At the start of a round, those players who have placed all three of their clergymen get them back. 2) Rotate the production wheel. 3) Round can be interrupted for a settlement phase, 4) each player can carry out one action. At the end of the round, the starting player carries out the second action. 5) Pass the starting player marker to the next player in clockwise direction.
Also, each player can perform an Additional Actions. They can be carried out anytime during a turn – Buying a Landscape tile (District or Plot), Trading coins and / or trade Wine or Whiskey for Coins, Flip Grain tiles to become Straw tiles.
The goal is to gain the most victory points at the end of the game and make the most valuable territory.
This game really looks like a «Le Havre» and «Agricola» but of course there are many differences. For example – buildings in «Le Havre» and «Agricola» don’t relate to each other as they do in «Ora et Labora». For example, there is a positional element to «Ora et Labora»; each player determines where to place buildings that may impact victory points (via Settlements).
In «Ora et Labora», the starting player gets an extra turns in each round. Also, there are a fixed number of rounds with each player getting the same number of turns in the game. In «Le Havre», there are 7 turns per round so depending on the number of players, some players may get more turns per round.
Q: Is it ok or not with 2 players and how long will the game takes with 2 players?
A: There are two different versions for 2p, but I think both play very well, or at least the short version. I haven’t played the long version (or if I have, then it’s been a long time), but the short version plays in about 90 minutes (at least).
Q: Should the A through D settlement cards be placed on the appropriate A through D piles next to the game board for the actual solo player?
A: It doesn’t matter where you keep the settlement cards A-D but you do use them.
Q: On page 8 of the rulebook in the section “A round with settlement phase looks like this,” step 6 states, “Carry out the settlement phase.” Is this the same as the normal settlement phase (in this case for the solo player) described for 3-4 players on pages 5 and 6 of the rule book? I ask because in the next step (step 7) It states, “Carry out your normal game turn.”
A: Yes, it’s the normal settlement phase.
Q: A related question: In a previous thread is the following comment: “..In the 2-4 player game you don’t lose the option to build buildings that haven’t been built by the settlement phase, but in the solo game you do.” (The phrase, “haven’t been built by the settlement phase” threw me.) Does this refer to the fact that in the solo game, the neutral player overbuilds the available buildings on his board before you actually reach your settlement phase? Thanks.
A: It refers to the fact that the neutral player builds the buildings you haven’t built, making you unable to build them in the future.
Though this game has famous predecessors it’s pretty interesting to play because you have a lot of variants of buildings, gaining resources and etc. Also, there a lot of good comments online about this game. You can buy it on Amazon, just follow this link.