Who Doesn’t Love A Big Box Re-Release?
First released way back in 2009, and now repackaged with a whole host of additional extras, Hansa Teutonica has certainly been around a long time but how does it hold up today? Sure, it looks beige and its theme of you taking the role of merchants building networks across the towns of the Hanseatic League may not be the most appealing but take the time to learn what looks like a relatively dry Euro game and underneath you’ll find one of the most engaging and entertaining games underneath.
Hansa Teutonica is a game for 3-5 players, the original listed the game as being playable at 2 but let me go ahead and tell you that 3 is the real minimum and at 4 or 5 this game shines best (although I will always play it at 3 if it's offered). On your turn, there are a number of different (and upgradeable) actions you can take, you may repeat the same action, and at the beginning of the game you can only take two, but this is also upgradable.
All Roads Lead To The Hanseatic League
Still with me? Right, these actions include the one you will take the most and that is placing cubes which represent your merchants and traders! This is important for two reasons, it will both help you to claim routes you want and it will help you block your opponents cube placement! Once you have managed to get all your cubes along a route you could take the action to claim the route, depending where you are this will allow you either upgrade a section on your player board or place one of your cubes into a town to claim control of that town (providing you have the right upgrades). Another option is to move cubes from your reserve to your supply, this is important because you will run out of cubes and that will limit what you can do. You can move your traders from one route to another, and this helps you to claim routes quickly. Finally, you can displace one of your opponents tradesmen or merchants as an action by spending one or two additional cubes from your supply and allowing them to move that piece and another from their reserve to another adjacent route.
This may seem like a lot to take in, but once you’ve picked up the flow of the game turns can be so fast, particularly if a player is just placing cubes, which means that play moves quickly and there isn’t too much down time between turns. The game ends immediately on the action that one player achieves 20 points, if 10 cities are filled, or if all the dinner plates (bonus markers) get claimed. Although the person getting 20 points may not be the one taking the action and then the winner will be the player with the most points. Points are gained through a number of ways, in game this is through any player claiming a route that has a point mark on it, or if someone controls a trading post at the end of that route. At the end of the game, points are awarded for control of towns, network (all cubes placed in all of your largest connected group of cities), number of plates, fully upgraded board sections, East-West connection or a weird space where you put your merchant inside a barrel. Interestingly the last game I played, I was dead last on the scoring track before these end game scores were added but I scored enough of these additional points to win the game.
Is This The Ultimate Euro?
Although this Hansa Teutonica has the ‘Big Box’ title, you’ll be pleased to find out that the box is in fact a normal size but just contains the base game plus additional boards and expansions. A large number of Euro games often have very little direct conflict but here it is a core part of the game and you have to be ok with that. I love the speed of turns, the ease of play once you’ve learned the rules and the number of different strategies you can adopt. If I was to place some small criticisms at the door of Hansa, and they are small, it is that the opening actions of trying to claim the additional actions route is almost always the first move and also that when someone claims a bonus marker and has to place another at the end of their turn, this is often overlooked. Oh and the art and theme might immediately turn some people off but oh boy are those people missing out on what is one of the most exciting and interactive Euro games out there.