Thursday, 17 March 2016

New Haven

New Haven is a City Building and Tile Placement game from R&R Games for 2-4 players. The gameplay is fairly simple but keeps you engaged even on opponents turns and is lots of fun. By the end of the game I am always left with a strong sense of accomplishment and a desire to play again. One of my favourite parts of New Haven is how you feel like you can always improve your game / score. Despite the simple rule set I have found New Haven surprisingly hard to teach to new players but once everyone has the game down it uses a great mix of both tactics and strategy. My group has really been enjoying New Haven and I cant wait to get into the review so please continue reading for how to play and my thoughts.


Your objective in New Haven is to develop a settlement worth as many points as possible. Completing individual buildings are not worth any points, in order to score you will have to fill either entire columns or rows of your Land Plot with various buildings. There is a way to score double points on these rows or columns, but for the purpose of understanding the rules I will explain this at the very end when I cover final scoring.

How to Play:

On every turn a player will perform the following actions:

1. Place one of your tiles on the board
2. Collect the appropriate resources corresponding with the tile and where you placed it
3. Spend those resources on building tiles
4. Give other players a chance to use your left over resources
5. Place Building Tiles on Land Plot while other players are using your leftovers
6. After every player has had a chance at the leftover resources, replenish the available buildings and your resource tile

Resources and Placing Your Tiles:

You use resources to building the buildings from the 6 available buildings you were given at the start of the game, at the end of a turn you will always replenish to 6.

When you place a tile it always gives you the 4 resources pictures on it, but it also rewards any resources that are connected from the tile you are actually placing. They have to be touching but the trail can go on as long as that resource is connected and your 1 sheep could suddenly be 15 sheep. Now keep in mind that any resources you don't use will be given away in turn order to your opponents. That means your goal should always be to get as close to the number of resources you need as possible.

Playing the tile on the right with 2 Stone and 2 Wheat would give you enough to purchase the 4 What building. You would then have 2 Stone leftover to either use or pass long to the next player.

When placing a tile on the board there are no restrictions, meaning it does not have to touch previously laid tiles, there are no holes that cannot be filled because if no icons match up then the tile is simply worth its basic 4 resources.

You always have an option of two tiles to choose from but you also have one face down resource tile. This is your shipment from the mother country, they are going to send you 4 of any 1 type of resource that you choose. To use this tile treat it as any other tile, just imagine that all 4 resources are the tile of your choice, chaining them to resources already on the map works as normal. After using the resources simply turn the tile the resource side up and other players treat it as a regular tile.

1 Home Shipment, 2 Resource and 6 Building Tiles behind Player Screen

Constructing Buildings:

Players will begin the game with 6 building tiles and a plot of land with 36 available spots. Each building tile has a number on one side and comes in one of four colours / suits. The colours determine what type of resource you will spend to construct the building and the number tells you how many of that resource it costs. Once you have paid the cost for a building you get to place it on your Land Plot, see below.

6 Available Buildings To Choose From: Players Replenish At the End of Their Turns

Placing Buildings:

Each Building must touch adjacent buildings of the same colour.
In this example, double points would be awarded for Row # 3 (6pts)
When placing a building the only restriction is that if the colour building already exists on your land plot then you must place future buildings of that colour adjacent to the already existing buildings. After paying the cost of appropriate resources, turn your building tile so the number is face down and place it wherever you want (keeping in mind the restriction of adjacent colours).

Now looking at the pictures of the land plots you may have seen that your 36 spaces all have numbers on them, and that these numbers correspond with the numbers on the building tiles. This is not a strange coincidence but rather a way to score double points. After paying the resources indicated on a building tile you can place it number side face up on any spot on your land plot that has a matching number. When placing buildings face up, you still have to follow the adjacent colour rule.

Scoring Your Landplot:

At the edges of your landplot each row and column has a number of people ranging from 1-6. This indicates how much that row is worth, and it is only worth points if the entire row is completed. This means a full row of all the 6s at the top being covered is worth 6 points, not 36. Now if you managed to get every single building in a row or column placed number side face up then the row / column is worth double points. So far the most I have managed to get double is 1 row and 1 column in the same game. See below for scoring example.
Players score points only for completed rows or columns.
Points are indicated by the number of people shown at the end
of each row or coloumn. Double points would be awarded for row 3.
The total score for this Land Plot would be 5+6 = 11.
My Thoughts:

I really enjoy New Haven but I feel like it could have been much cooler. I am so tired of seeing wheat, wood, sheep and ore as resources and with the abstract gameplay you could really use any 4 icons / resources. This could be a game about colonizing space, or building a sanctuary for endangered species, or basic shapes or colonizing space or anything but wood sheep and ore. That being said New Haven has been hit our table approximately every other day for the first 3 weeks, its one of the first games I have purchased in a while that has really clicked with my group to the point where everyone has asked to play it at least once now. This was 3 months ago and we have still played at least once a week since.

I really enjoy how you place the resource tiles work mechanically and I love the fact that you get that once per game power move; the home shipment. I think that is a really cool mechanic to be in a game and would love to check out more games that give players a once per game power move. I like how you are never really out of the game and even when players have thought they got stomped, they turned out to lose by only a small margin. That being said I feel our entire group now scores much higher than our first 4 or 5 games when everyone was focusing on trying to get rows / columns to score double. You can use a lot of different strategies and play as aggressively or not in order to win New Haven. It is fun to watch players develop their land in a very sandbox way.

New Haven has been a struggle to teach (primarily because the numbers on the Land Plots confused new players) for me but also very rewarding seeing players "get it" and suddenly become very immersed in the game. I think it is cool that you always have two tiles to choose from, we sometimes play Carcassonne that way so this felt very natural to me.

I am not usually big on Tile Placement games because most of the ones I have played are not confined to a playing space and tend to run off the table or at least always to the other side of the table then I am sitting on. That being said I love efficiency and New Haven is all about rewarding efficiency. Giving other players the opportunity to use your leftover resources is not only a really cool mechanic and one I have not seen often but it takes New Haven from an okay game to a great game in my eyes by forcing every player to pay attention even when it is not their turn.

Family Gamers: I think New Haven is great for families and younger players primarily because you can play without any "take that" and almost even work together until everyone learns the rules. New Haven is also a mathy game that still manages to be fun. This is the only part where I think the theme is appropriate since it is very family friendly but even then I think most kids would enjoy something cooler than wheat and sheep. New Haven provides a great sense of accomplishment which I think is important when you are playing with younger gamers if you want them to stay interested in our hobby. My last point here is that the way you place your buildings also involves a lot of patterns, careful planning and thinking in ways that will directly correlate to other parts of life. All in all I don't think Family Gamers can go wrong with New Haven.

Casual Gamers: New Haven does not take too long to play and has easy to learn rules. Before the first game is over everyone will have a hang of how to play and can focus on playing the game instead of getting bogged down with rules. New Haven is one of the most casual friendly games I own and that is because even when its not your turn it is usually your turn. The leftover resource mechanic is fantastic for encouraging player interaction, table talk and paying attention to what is happening even what it is not your turn which is great for keeping casual games on track and not taking longer than expected. I think another important part for casual gamers is how quickly New Haven can be set up and put away compared to other games with a similar length. I think New Haven can act as a great bridge if you are seeking to get into heavier games or simply enjoyed as a light social game. In my eyes this adaptability is what makes New Haven a great casual game.

Gamer Gamers: Just because I have said New Haven is great for families and casuals does not mean it would not be enjoyed by those who take their board games a little more serious. Now that the core of my gaming group has all played 10+ times, we have tried both sides of the game board multiple times, and both of the included variants designed to make the game more challenging New Haven has become one of the most intense games that hits the table. When you start watching which buildings your opponents are taking you can take some of their buildings or block their resources all while trying to keep progressing your own land plot New Haven becomes an entirely different ball game and definitely somewhere closer to a brain burner than a family friendly walk in the park.

Both Sides of The New Haven Game Board

No comments :

Post a Comment