Thursday, March 1, 2018

Harvest (Tasty Minstrel Games)

One of my first forays into tiny box games was a game called Harbour from Tasty Minstrel Games (TMG). It is an interesting little economic worker placement game set in the fantasy world of Gullsbottom. I loved the game designer (Scott Almes) and the art of Rob Lundy made this fantasy realm come to life. In 2017, TMG released another game in the realm of Gullsbottom called Harvest. Trey Chambers is the game designer this time around, and Rob Lundy remained on as the artist. The game plays 1 - 4 players, ages 14+. It takes between 30 and 60 minutes to play and retails for $40. In this game, you are farmers living in the community of Fallowsend. It is your goal to have the best farm by use of careful planting, meticulous tending, and special abilities from buildings. Will you have the most successful harvest this season?
Setup and Game Play
Place the Town Board central to all players and organize the crop/seed tokens by type. You have Snap Peas, Scarrots, Phantom Peppers, Rockali, and Plumpkins. (This doesn't look like any farm I've ever been to!) Next, place Farm Boards and Expansions as well as Resource Tokens of Water, Elixir, and Fertilizer near the Town Board. (Yes, there are poop-shaped pieces in this game.) Then, give each play two Farmers in their color, a Farm Board, and two Character Boards, so that they may choose the character they will be this game. (Note: Each character has a generic Wil Plantsomdill side, and this is the recommended character for your first game.) All characters have different starting resources and have special powers, except Wil, whose "power" is that he gives you 15 points at the end of the game. Lastly, you will seed the area (Seed...see what I did there?) with Action Cards (a face-down deck composed of five per player), Building/Field Cards (six face-up for Buildings, and the rest are fields), and Initiative Cards (one to each player), which determine player order and also give a bonus in all rounds but the first. The game play is very simple with four phases each of the five rounds.
1. Action Cards - Reveal one Action Card per player. These cards and the Town Board are the places you can send your Farmers each round.
2. Initiative - Reveal three Initiative Cards. Going in order of current initiative, each player will choose a new Initiative Card and receive its bonus. After everyone has selected their new card, the three cards leftover are shuffled back into the deck. The new turn order has now been established.
3. Farmer Placement - Going in initiative order, you will place farmers one at a time onto a location on the Town Board or an Action Card. This is where the meat of the game occurs and where you will either Expand your Farm, Plow a Field, Build a Building, Plant Seeds, Tend Plants, or Harvest your Crops.
4. Resolution - Reclaim your Farmers. Return the Action Cards to the box. Refill Building supply to six.

The game ends after five rounds. Count up all the stars on your farm and add any bonuses your character gave you. Most stars is the winner!
This game is a lighter, fantasy-themed version of Agricola. The game play is very simple because you only get 10 actions per game (two per round), but because of these limited actions, you must make very good use of each action! Looking through all the moving parts of this game, I find myself very pleased with all the variability of this game and would like to highlight these aspects:

1. Variable Player Power - I love that everyone can have their own unique character with different starting resources and power. Im-Hoe-Tep was a favorite of mine, because I got a free building at the start of each game and my buildings counted as fields too! This encouraged me to go a building-heavy route.
2. Initiative Cards - Having people decide between more of something or being the first player is a constant struggle each turn.
3. Action Cards - Having these be different every game and only seeing one per player per round tightens up the board and makes your decisions meaningful.

Other things I liked about this game were the art and fantasy theme. For someone who owns a lot of board games, I am surprised at how few farming games I own since that seems to be a highly popular theme. I can't say this is my favorite farming game (That would be Fields of Green), but this one is a solid second place and one I would suggest to play or play when asked. There are two things I don't like about this game and both of them are very petty if I'm being honest. The first is I wish the field cards were cardboard and not just card stock. The second is that the box is bigger than its predecessor Harbour. However, I have read recently that there will be a third game in this universe called Embark that will be the same box size as Harvest, so I guess when that comes out, I can complain about Harbour being the wrong size. :) If you are looking for a fun worker placement game with a fantasy-farming theme, check it out!

This game was provided to me for free by Tasty Minstrel Games in exchange for an honest review.

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