The life of a humble harbour worker can be rough. One minute you think you’re wealthy, the next minute the market for your fish supply hits rock bottom. When playing Harbour from Tasty Minstrel Games, this is sure to happen frequently.
Harbour is a beautifully illustrated card game that puts players in the role of a dock worker with the hope of becoming the “Harbour Master”. The goal of the game is to acquire buildings in your harbour that will give you the most victory points. The buildings range from the Masoner’s Hall to the Sushi Shop and just about anything you would find in a bustling seaside town.
The whole game is based around the collection and shipping of four different goods. Each player has access to fish, wood, livestock and stone in their warehouse. There is a central market that sits in the center of the table that gives you the current value of each resource from $2 to $5.
Trades on the High Seas
Each turn, players put their worker token on a building that’s unoccupied. Buildings give you the ability to trade or gain new resources or modify the central market that all players depend on. As players purchase buildings, the market will shift and that item that was once worth $5 might be worth only $2 the next turn.
This fluctuating market mechanic makes the game a challenge and forces players into being competitive. It can really disrupt your game plan when you spend 3 turns collecting one type of good just to have the market drop out and make your good nearly worthless. This is the element of the game that really connects with me the most.
When a player purchases a building, other players can still use the building for a cost that benefits the buildings new owner. It’s a great strategy to purchase the building that all players are visiting with hopes that your purchase will now help you earn new goods.
When a player purchases 4 buildings, the other players take one additional turn and the game comes to an end. All players then count the victory points to determine who is named the “Harbour Master”.
Harbour is a great game that helps our kids understand simple supply and demand. Our oldest two kids (11 and 12) really had a fun time trying to trade goods at just the right time. After a couple rounds they figured out how they could buy the best buildings and change the market to mess up another player.
Our first time sitting down with Harbour was a bit of a hassle. We found ourselves reading the rules multiple times and then debating the exact meaning of how a building is suppose to be used.
Most of the buildings are pretty simple. Like, lose one fish and gain one of each of the other goods. But there are a couple cards that show up and have you scratching your head. Each card has a small description as well as a visual of what action should be done on that building.
Thankfully, there is a Harbour FAQ on Board Game Geek that helps with any questions that might pop up. After playing the game twice, we got a lot faster and it was a much more enjoyable experience.
The game is well suited for kids 10+ and is great for 2-4 players. There is also a solo rule variant that people have mixed feelings about. The first couple turns are predictable and move kind of slow. The game picks up after a couple rounds and usually takes just under an hour to complete.
Our family owns many games that Tasty Minstrel Games has published and Harbour is a fantastic addition to our game library. The game isn’t for everyone and that isn’t a bad thing. The learning curve might be a little much for your friend who isn’t into tabletop games but is perfect for anyone who enjoys strategy games with a simple economy.
You can find Harbour at your local board game shop or can be purchased on Amazon.com.
- Fluctuating economy that keeps players on their toes
- Beautiful illustrations really pulled us into the game
- Great game for families with olders kids (10+)
- First couple games can be confusing
- Complexity might put off people who aren’t gamers