Le Havre

Published on June 18, 2012
By
Players:
1-5
Multiplayer:Yes, online and pass'n'play (with asynchronous play available)
AI:Yes, with varying levels of difficulty
Universal App:Yes (there is a single app which works on both iPhone and iPad in HD)
Purchase for iPhone:Use link below to purchase universal app
Purchase for iPad:
Le Havre (The Harbor)
Price: $4.99
User rating:
GD Star Rating
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Introducing the next game by the fabulous team at Codito: Le Havre. Le Havre is the recipient of numerous awards, including the 2009 Golden Geek Best Gamer’s Board Game Winner, the 2009 International Gamers Awards – General Strategy; Multi-player Winners, the 2009 Tric Trac d’Argent, and the 2011 Ludoteca Ideale Official Selection Winner. It was also nominated for a few more on top of that.

Editors note: this game was reviewed in advance by using a special distribution system, however it is representative of the final version which is currently awaiting approval in the AppStore.  

LeHarve1 500x375 Le Havre ipad screenshot

Le Havre can be thought of as the spiritual successor to Agricola. Both games depend on the allocation of actions each round and dividing that effort between collection of resources and the use of those resources towards long-term goals and the final score. Le Havre is a game designed by Uwe Rosenberg, and I am always amused to think that in the creative industries Uwe can represent both ends of the spectrum of talent and ingenuity, depending on whether you add Rosenberg or Boll as the surname. Oh an in case the French title didn’t tip you off (Le Havre is a city in the Seine-Maritime department of the Haute-Normandie region in France), the use of francs as the monetary unit should!

Gameplay

You represent one of a few harbour masters, each attempting to be the richest of them all at the end of a designated number of rounds relative to the number of players. Throughout each round there are two main objectives, the first is to collect resources made available at a variety of piers in the harbour (fish, wood, clay, iron, grain, & cattle) as well as a supply of francs that accumulates over time. Ideally, by the end of the round you will have enough food to feed your workforce (the amount increases with each turn) and have managed to position yourself in a financially better place. If you fail to have sufficient food at the end of the round, you will have to take out a loan to feed them. Unless you can pay this off before the end of the game it will be a huge detriment to your score.

LeHarve4 500x375 Le Havre ipad screenshot

During each round, there are seven supply tiles that will determine how quickly the game moves. These supply tiles are laid in a row, and at the start of each player’s turn, their corresponding ship is placed on the next supply space. The first thing this does is show you progress through the round. Since the number seven will not divide into the number of players at any given time, this means the starting player is constantly changing as the turn order continues from round to round. That is, in a two player game, players one and two will alternate with player one having the seventh turn, but then player two having the first and last turn in the next round. Since a game that has more players will permit less actions per player per round, there is an increasing number of rounds relative to the number of players.

At the beginning of the turn, you place your ship onto the next supply tile and this will generate two resources (good and/or francs) that will be added to the stockpile on the various piers (called Offer spaces in the game). After that you may take your main actions, which consists of either taking all of the available goods (or francs) on one of the piers, or using the action of one of the available buildings (some of those actions allow you to buy buildings or wharves, which increase the types of actions available or the amount of food you generate in a turn respectively). A player may, as a secondary action, buy buildings for their monetary cost (rather than simply using an action to build with resources). It should be noted that using your action to take resources takes all the resources, and using your action to use a building makes it unavailable until you relocate your piece to another building in another turn. Both are important strategic blocking mechanisms.

LeHarve5 500x375 Le Havre ipad screenshot

The types of buildings that are available at any given time depends on two things. Firstly games with fewer players naturally use fewer types of buildings. Likewise not all buildings are available from the beginning of the game. All buildings are placed in three columns and the ones beneath only become available when the ones on top are used. Depending on where the building is (owned by the town, or another player) you will need to pay an entry cost of food or francs to enter and be given the privilege of using that building. Naturally, if you own the building yourself you pay no such cost. The types of actions that buildings offer mostly revolve around granting certain resources outside of the piers, converting lesser value goods to greater value goods. These conversion rates will be important as they represent the only way to acquire certain types of resources not offered on the piers. They can be things like smoked fish (fish that have been smoked provide more food), or coal (a basic energy resource not offered on the pier).

This last statement reveals that not only must you account for food each turn, but account for the energy consumption of any given action. For example, it costs 1 unit of energy to convert fish to smoked fish. This is a cost paid independently and on top of any costs for entering a building. The more powerful the conversion, the higher the energy costs. That is, to convert iron to steel, you’re looking at 15 units of energy. Energy is paid through resources as well. Wood is versatile and can be used either for construction or burnt for energy on a 1:1 ratio. Wood can be converted to charcoal, which provides a 1:3 ratio. Coal can be mined through the colliery card, which also provides a 1:3 ratio, and coal can be converted to coke which provides an energy ratio of 1:10!

LeHarve3 500x375 Le Havre ipad screenshot

Obviously, there are many more particular rules relevant to the individual cards in play, but you now have an overview of how the pieces all fit together. At the end of the game, you count up the value of any buildings you own, any ships you own, and the sum of your actual money. You deduct for loans you have yet to pay off.

Implementation

Codito’s talents are growing. They are demonstrating an aptitude for converting complex games onto the user interface of the iPad. Like Puerto Rico, they’ve had to convey a large amount of information into the singular frame so that players can absorb their opportunities in a glance. It does suffer from this translation as there is still a lot to take in. I found that having never played the physical game, some of the subtleties eluded me, which would undoubtedly be more apparent if I was familiar with the physical game. That being said, once you have passed that learning curve of understanding all the components, it will easily become a favourite game. Hopefully, fans of the game won’t assert the criticisms that were leveled at Puerto Rico and Tigris & Euphrates, in effectively changing the layout of the game. For all intent and purpose the layout looks quite similar to the original concept. I am also quite besotted with the charming French accordion music that resounds in the background as you play. It is wonderfully thematic.

You can also see some of the tell-tale signs that it’s a Codito build. If you’re familiar with either Tigris & Euphrates or Puerto Rico, you’ll see similar icons in use. The artwork is of excellent caliber drawing upon the original artwork of the game. However, does the game tick the necessary boxes? Yes there is a tutorial, which will walk you through an entire game explaining the process step by step. I believe this is fundamental to introducing highly complex games to new audiences. Even after a few rounds, I didn’t quite understand the scope of all my decisions. However it only took a second game to feel like I had a sound grasp of the fundamentals. There is multiplayer, allowing for online play through GameCenter or as a pass’n’play option. That’s a tick in every box.

LeHarve2 500x375 Le Havre ipad screenshot

Verdict

10/10: This game will undoubtedly go down as a perennial favourite. Get it when you can.

Le Havre, 8.3 out of 10 based on 237 ratings

Review By: Angelus Morningstar

Completed a Masters of Jurisprudence at University of Sydney. I am an activist, dramaturge, and instigator of strange mind experiments. I’m a storyteller, and I mostly tell stories about people. These aren’t always stories you’ll find written down, they can be stories told over a coffee, told by firelight, told through art act and lifestyle. Of course, we all tell stories. We love our little fictions, lies and dreams – I just like to embellish a bit more than most. My current project of substantial size is called Eidolon. It can be found here: http://www.eidolon.me
Players:
1-5
Multiplayer:Yes, online and pass'n'play (with asynchronous play available)
AI:Yes, with varying levels of difficulty
Universal App:Yes (there is a single app which works on both iPhone and iPad in HD)
Purchase for iPhone:Use link below to purchase universal app
Purchase for iPad:
Le Havre (The Harbor)
Price: $4.99
User rating:
GD Star Rating
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Share this review:

37 comments
Marcin
Marcin

There is a sale-off for this title (and couple of other games from Codito) in Appstore - now you can get it for $0.99. Looks like a great deal.

balush
balush

AI is not that great. I played Le Havre once before buying this app. I won all my games against AI playing with 2, 3, 4 and 5 players. It was 8 or 9 games played. I don't think I am an experienced player.

 

Anyway, app is great and I had lots of fun with it. Totally worth buying.

McChester
McChester

Anyone else get kicked out of the game when they use the "Marketplace" action in the later rounds? This has happened to me many times and I have reported the problem but wanted to see if others have also encountered this.

neroir
neroir

The game is great, but I don't think it deserves a 10/10. As other have already said, the user interface is not well designed, and some times it's complicated to know what your rivals are doing in their turns.

MattVanAndel
MattVanAndel

*sigh* And this one suffers from all the same silly, amateurish design problems that every single one of Coditos games suffer from. Center-aligned text everywhere, haphazard layouts that dont give any thought to maximizing the usage of the screen. Sloppy, ugly design that kida-sorta uses the board game art, but implemented by someone (or someones) who suffer from a complete utter lack of design sense, information architecture, or user interface experience. This is what happens when programmers go it solo.

davelin
davelin

How come when I go to start a game under online, I don't see any available games to enter?

Hatesville
Hatesville

Am I the only one, who, haven't played the original and having gone through the tutorial twice, still finds the game to be bewilderingly complicated? I guess I'll get my head round it sooner or later, but so far it's been the toughest boardgame to play on IOS.

Tatsu
Tatsu

The game is well done except for lacking retina graphics and for the HORRIBLE battery drain. I downloaded and played for a couple hours and it just destroyed my battery. This isn't a 3D engine action game, no way it should be eating battery life like it does.

Jason Ball
Jason Ball

I was on the Beta Test, let me assure you, it deserves the 10/10. It takes all figgityness (is that a word?) out of the board game and streamlines the accounting.

Gurgeh
Gurgeh

I would like to understand (from some of the 34 who have cast a vote) how they are assessing their score on a game that has not been released. I used to believe that the user scores on this site meant something!

stpatsfb
stpatsfb

Definitely gonna check this game out as you rarely hand out 10s.

ben
ben

I just played the physical game for the first time tonight, and am amazed that Codito was able to cram a whole table's worth of chits, cards, boards, and tokens into one screen. 

 

Anyway, I am looking forward to this release! Thanks for the review. 

Gurgeh
Gurgeh

Angelus - perhaps you should clear votes cast before a game is released.

Angelus_Morningstar
Angelus_Morningstar

How has there been 8 votes cast when it hasn't been released? People are clearly stacking this.

EvanGMan
EvanGMan

Wow, a 10/10? I'll definitely pick this up; I'd like to hear more about the tutorial though, since I've never played the game. June might be a really solid month for iPad board games -- Hacienda, Le Havre and (hopefully) Summoner Wars. 

Michiel
Michiel

Also, Puerto Rico, not Peurto Rico.

Michiel
Michiel

It's Le Havre, not Le Harve.

Marcin
Marcin

follow: sale-off will finish on Sunday 26th Aug, if I got it right.

James Bruce
James Bruce moderator

 @Hatesville No, youre not the only one. I still don't get it, it seems like a bunch of arbitrary rules and far too much small math: you need 4 food for this, or 2 power, but you use 1 coal for 3 power, or one dried fish for 2 food, and then you get 1/2 of something for every 2 you exchange. ARRRGH!

stpatsfb
stpatsfb

I bought it from the US appstore yesterday afternoon.

Angelus_Morningstar
Angelus_Morningstar

@stpatsfb That's deliberate. I think 10s should be earned not given away :)

James Bruce
James Bruce moderator

Thanks, I'm a terrible editor. Should've caught that one. 

Hatesville
Hatesville

 @James Bruce It's not like I'm a newbie to IOS boardgames either. I must have at least 20 on my Pad, from the Knizia ones to the less intuitive Yggdrasil or Caylus, and I've mastered most, if not all of them. Oh well, I guess it will just take a lil more time!

Acebrinskter
Acebrinskter

@James Bruce i am in US. I searched for it today on app store and it didn't come up.

Acebrinskter
Acebrinskter

@stpatsfb I am in the US. I searched for it today and nothing popped up.

Gurgeh
Gurgeh

Good move James.

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