Harbour is a 1-4 player worker placement game designed by Scott Almes (Tiny Epics, Heroes of Land, Air and Sea and Boomerang) and published by Tasty Minstrel Games.
Dockmaster Schlibble and Constable O’Brady have invited you to their bustling harbour town. Take a break at the local Inn. Visit the Trader’s Guild, Clocktower, Ranch or Shipbuilder’s Guild. Wherever you visit keep your eyes peeled as there are always deals to be done.
In Harbour, players are traders competing to become the Harbour Master. Players will trade fish, livestock, wood and stone to purchase various buildings. The buildings are worth victory points and the game ends when a player has five buildings. The player with the most victory points is the winner.
At the start of Harbour, each player takes a coloured meeple and a player board. The player boards are double-sided with one side being the same on every board and the other having a special ability and building. The player boards also contain a section for the player to store the goods and represents a player’s warehouse. The Market Board is placed in the middle of the table and the four goods (fish, livestock, wood and stone) are randomly assigned to the market squares.
A number of building cards are displayed equal to the number of players plus three. These buildings are available to purchase but are also worker placement spots.
On a player’s turn they must move their worker to an available building. The player must move their worker and can’t use the same building they are currently occupying. A player can use their starting building or one of the available buildings available to be purchased or an opponent’s building.
When a player moves their worker they carry out the action on the building. Actions are varied but generally allow a player to manipulate the market goods, convert resources to other resources, acquire resources or buy a building and a host of other actions.
When a player gains or loses a resource they move the relevant resource up or down on their player board. A player cannot have more than six of any one type of good.
Buying a Building
When a player wants to buy a building they must ship goods from their warehouse to pay for the building. Players must check that they meet the requirements for the resource to ship the goods. The Market board will depict how many of a particular good is required to allow it to be shipped. For example, if the stone is on the three space a player must have three stone before they can ship stone. Shipping three stone will provide a player with three money to purchase a building. A player can ship multiple goods to purchase a building.
When shipping goods the player moves that particular good’s marker down to the ship space on the Market Board. The player now removes that particular good from their warehouse. When a player ships a number of goods above the desired amount no goods are kept, they must shop all of one particular good. The Market Board is now adjusted with the goods remaining on the market spaces moving to the right – Therefore increasing in quantity and vale. The goods shipped are now moved from left to right and fill the empty market spaces.
The player can now purchase a building based on the value of goods they have shipped. The purchased building is placed near the players other building and belongs to the player. A new building is revealed from the deck of building cards.
Each building may contain one or more symbols (Coin, Top Hat, Anchor and Warehouse). When a player holds a building with any of these symbols they have access to various bonuses as detailed below.
- Coin – A player gets a one coin discount for every building they hold that contains a coin.
- Top Hat – Allows a player to use an opponent’s building without having to pay the toll of one good.
- Anchor – Grants benefits from activating other buildings depending on the number of anchors the player holds.
- Warehouse – When shipping goods a player may keep one good of one type for each warehouse symbol they own.
Playing Harbour Board Game – The Winner (Credit: Muse23PT BGG)
The end game is triggered when a player has five buildings (including the building that they started with). Players tally up the victory points from the buildings they have purchased and the player with the most victory points is the winner.
Final Thoughts on Harbour
Harbour is a brilliant design of a game. Although classed as a worker placement I think of it as more of a worker movement game, a term that I have totally made up but I think represents the game well. Traditional worker placement games have you placing a number of workers, doing actions, removing workers and rinse repeat. In Harbour, you have a single worker and move that worker from building to building. The simple change of having a single worker and the requirement to move that worker from building to building every turn is brilliant.
The actions encourage players to optimise their moves as efficiently as possible. There is a tension to the game to try and acquire as many resources as needed to ship a lot of goods for a high value card but also keeping an eye on the market and your opponent.
The market is a very fickle beast and if another player ships, this will change your plans immediately. The fish that you had been saving for a big building purchase suddenly becomes worth very little when the market moves. So, do you push for quick sales and low point buildings to rush the end game or save up for the more expensive, but bigger, point buildings but run the risk of the market changing and your goods decreasing in value?
It makes for an interesting game. For what is a simple, small box game there are some interesting choices to be made. There is also a massive amount of replay-ability with the different player’s starting buildings and the large amount of buildings card available in the game. The game also plays quick considering the choices and decisions that can be made.
All in all Harbour is a fantastic game and one that is currently getting a fair amount of plays at home and within my gaming group.