Thursday, May 23, 2019

Quick Review - Harbour: High Tide expansion by Tasty Minstrel Games

Harbour: High Tide
Designed By: Scott Almes
Published By: Tasty Minstrel Games
1-4p | 30-60m | 14+
Quick Review - Harbour: High Tide expansion by Tasty Minstrel Games
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Harbour was the very first hobby game I backed on Kickstarter, way back in 2014.  It was delivered two months early and was my very first unboxing post on this blog.  It quickly became a favorite game, especially for solo gaming, and still hits the table as both a solo and multiplayer game occasionally.  I really enjoy how the market fluctuates and how the one-worker, worker placement mechanic drives player interaction.  So when I heard that, after over 5 years, there was going to be an expansion for Harbour, I was super excited to be able to try it out!  So, is the High Tide expansion going to elevate Harbour to new levels or leave you with wet feet?  Read on to find out!

Harbour: High Tide is available right now for just $10 (or less).  Ask for it at your FLGS.  It contains 30 cards and rules in a tuck box.
High Tide is a small expansion that you can get for $10 or even less from your FLGS now.
High Tide doesn't really change much about the overall mechanics in Harbour; the overall gameplay is still the same with you moving your goblin worker from building to building, gaining resources, and selling them at the right time to buy buildings for yourself.   The only major mechanical change in High Tide is the new Ship cards, although the new two-story  buildings and other new building actions add some interesting new decisions, abilities, and interactions.
New buildings and fun ships add some new elements to keep Harbour interesting.
In each game there will be several ships available for hire instead of taking a building action.   To hire a ship you'll need to spend some goods.  However, unlike shipping all your goods to buy a building, goods used to hire a ship are adjusted on your resources track 1 to 1.  When you hire a ship you'll place it in front of you.  Later, you can return the ship to the table to get a $4-$6 discount when buying a building.  These ships are great for giving you extra options for spending goods when the market changes are not in your favor.  They also make some of the more expensive buildings a bit more accessible (and there are several expensive buildings in the expansion).  They also serve to speed up the game slightly since they let you buy cheaper buildings easier, too.  There are 9 ship cards included, 5 of which will be available in a 4-player game (4 for 3-players and 3 for 2-players).
When you hire a ship you'll get a discount for purchasing a future building.
In addition to the  ships, High Tide includes 21 new building cards that have some interesting actions.  One minor change in the mechanics is in how buildings get added to the building row.  Adjacent matters for some of the new building abilities, so their order matters.  The building row works like a river now, with new buildings being added to the left and the rest sliding to fill any gaps when a building is bought.  When you buy buildings they go in front of you from right (your start building) to left.  This spreads things out a bit of you are used to squeezing things in when you have limited space.
A whole slew of new buildings have new abilities that use the ships, new adjacency rules, interesting scoring, and more!
On  the new buildings are two new symbols.  A bright green emblem with a ship symbol on it indicates a small business.  When you buy these you may buy them like a standard building, or you may purchase it at a $2 discount and use it as a second story for a building you've already bought.  When used as an upper level business they don't count toward the buildings that trigger the end game.  The other symbol is a pink emblem with an arrow on it.  When you buy one of those buildings you'll get to move your goblin worker to another building and take another turn.
The green icon lets you build this as a second story (yes, you can have cows living upstairs). 
The pink icon lets you take another action after buying the Dairy Farm.
Dairy Farm also has adjacency rules (you get livestock when someone uses an adjacent building)
You also get bonus points if someone owns the Cheese Shop.  The Dairy Farm has it all!
Some of the new buildings also give variable points at the end of the game.  Depending on various criteria the buildings will be worth a different amount of points.  For example, the Dairy Farm gives you seven points, but if someone owns the Cheese Shop you'l get an extra 2 points.  Or, the Dock Builder gives you 3 points for every boat that is still out for hire by anyone at the end of the game.
Dock Builder gives you a bonus when ships have been hired and extra points if ships are hired at the end of the game.
That's all that's new in the High Tide expansion.  It's a small expansion for a small game, but it's enough new stuff to breathe some life into an old favorite.  I really like the ships and how they provide an alternate strategy.  And some of the building abilities are pretty interesting.  Like the Escape Room that may trap you there for several turns, but gives you a big boost of you are lucky enough to get out quickly.

It's not a perfect expansion though.  There are a few building abilities that aren't the clearest, and whether you physically replace buildings like the Ghost Ship without changing location or add the replacement building to the left of everything like you do other times a new building comes out isn't explicitly stated.  However, my biggest issue with the expansion is that it isn't compatible with the inland traders side of the market board.  This, by itself, isn't a problem, but the expansion cards have nothing on them to indicate they are part of the expansion.  So once you've shuffled the new buildings into the old deck, good luck ever separating them.  If you really like the inland traders variant you might want to consider marking the expansion cards before shuffling them into the deck.
Inland Traders isn't compatible with High Tide since the ships essentially replace that ability.
On the left is a card from the base game, on the right is Escape Room from the expansion. 
There's no graphical indication that Escape Room is an expansion card.

Final Thoughts:
Overall, I really enjoyed the new elements that the High Tide expansion adds to Harbour.  I've played with both players that have the base game and new players and everyone enjoyed it.  It didn't add too much additional complexity to the rules and played just as fast as the base game.
High Tide adds just enough to Harbour to add some refreshing gameplay.  
I found that the whole thing fits in the original box of you  out all of the cards in the tuck box.  I have the Kickstarter version, so I think I have a lot more characters than the retail version (not sure though), and my box doesn't sit flush.  The tuck box lifts the lid about 1/8 inch, but it's serviceable.
Plenty of room for everything in the base box!
With the tuck box for the expansion holding all the cards neatly the box almost closes, but it's close enough!
The issue with the expansion not being compatible with the inland traders variant isn't a problem for me.  I enjoyed High Tide enough that I don't think I'll play without it and I never actually played with the inland traders, so I'm not missing it.  I'm super happy to have a revived Harbour and think this is a must have expansion for anyone who loves the game and wants a reason to get it to the table again.  If you are a fan of Harbour, then you'll definitely enjoy High Tide.  Call your FLGS and have them order you a copy today.  It's definitely worth the $10.
There's not much here, but it's definitely a worthwhile purchase if you enjoy Harbour.
Quick Rating: 8/10

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GJJG Game Reviews are independent, unpaid reviews of games I, George Jaros, have played with my family and friends. Some of these games I own, some are owned by friends, some are borrowed, and some are print and play versions of games. Where applicable I will indicate if games have been played with kids or adults or a mix (Family Play). I won't go into extensive detail about how to play the game (there are plenty of other sources for that information and I'll occasionally link to those other sources), but I will give my impressions of the game and how my friends and family reacted to the game. Quick Reviews will only get a single rating of 1-10 (low-high) based on my first impressions of the game during my first few times playing. Hopefully I'll get more chances to play the game and will be able to give it a full review soon.

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