Le Havre: The Inland Port is a two player game, which shares some of the themes and style of Le Havre. This is very much about producing goods and using available buildings in order to amass wealth.
Typically a game will take 30 minutes, so Le Havre: The Inland Port is a lot faster than its bigger cousin. Play is turn-based where players purchase buildings with coins or resources or utilise those buildings which will likely produce resources. After each completed round, more buildings become available and the game continues.
The game utilises a production wheel which is a very interesting and innovative mechanic, though a little hard to explain in a review. Le Havre: The Inland Port is one of those games which is best learned with a test run through with all the components laid out. It’s worth it, Inland Port is a neat and fun game, and as expected from a game by Uwe Rosenberg, is beautifully crafted.
So how does it play?
The short answer is surprisingly well.
The longer answer:
Set Up – Each player takes three Franks, a warehouse board and goods as indicated, You also pick up a game board also known as the production wheel.
The game is played over 12 rounds in which players can take a certain number of actions, this number increases in later rounds. Each round is split into three parts:
Beginning Phase – New buildings enter play. There are 31 in total and they enter play in a fixed and set order.
Main Phase – Players take turns to purchase buildings which cost resources or money, or players can operate buildings which generate resources or money. Purchased buildings are placed in the sector of the production wheel immediately to the right of the pointer. These are paid for with resources, Fish, Grain, Clay, Wood, or Franks.
Buildings which are used generate resources in a wide variety of different ways, all of which are well explained in the rules booklet, and as a rule of thumb the more spaces they are away from the production wheel pointer the more they produce. Buildings used in this way are then just like purchased buildings, placed in the sector of the production wheel immediately to the right of the pointer.
To make things even more interesting, it is possible to pay One Frank to use the opponents’ building which again is moved to next to the pointer. Yes, I know this may sound a bit confusing, it’s hard to explain, but it is a really neat mechanic and is actually easy to grasp with the components laid out. These buildings have various effects, mostly they generate more Franks or increase the quantity of goods in the warehouse.
End Phase – The pointers on the production wheels are moved one space counter-clockwise. This has the effect of moving purchased buildings one sector further behind the pointer and the further behind the pointer they are the greater their effect in use. One final note on this, there are six sectors and 12 rounds, so unless buildings are used the pointer will “catch up” with the building, forcing its sale.
Play then moves to the next Beginning Phase and new buildings become available. After the 12 rounds are completed the game is over. Victory is determined by wealth. Buildings are worth Franks, some buildings are worth more than others and those coming out in later phases are often worth more.
Resources might be worth Franks – it depends on having the right building, which is very much part of the strategy within Inland Port. Plus any Franks in hand are counted. The winner is the player who has amassed the most Franks.
All the components within Le Havre: The Inland Port are of good quality. The boards are on solid stock and well printed. The buildings and counters are equally solid. The rulebook is well laid out and has good examples of play. Ultimately it’s a high production standard Euro game on par with its bigger cousin.
Final Thoughts on Le Havre: The Inland Port
Play takes around 30 minutes, so Le Havre: The Inland Port is a pretty quick game. The mechanics (though hard to explain) are easy to pick up and are extremely elegant. The game would benefit from some sort of counter to aid recording the number of actions taken in the main phase but this is not a deal breaker.
If I have a concern it is that nothing is left to chance, everything is visible, there are no random factors. I worry that this might produce a sameness of each play, especially between the same two players as they potentially hit on an effective formula.
This being said, because it is possible to use buildings belonging to an opponent I suspect fixed patterns will not quickly emerge, and it is entirely possible that one good strategy is to let the opponent purchase the building and to time this to be able to operate it and deny the opponent those resources. There is a lot going on, and a lot of possible options and things to do each turn, whilst not being so complicated that it becomes hard to make decisions.
If you like Le Havre, which is a good multiplayer game, and want a two player game with the same themes then Inland Port is certainly one to consider. As would be expected from any game designed by Uwe Rosenberg, it's finely crafted, well balanced, has a degree of challenge, and is fun.
- Innovative goods production wheel.
- Fairly easy to learn.
- Play is fast.
- The absence of a chance factor may make the game feel static and limit replay-ability.
Innovative goods production wheel.
Fairly easy to learn.
Play is fast.
The absence of a chance factor may make the game feel static and limit replay-ability.