English language edition of Hazienda
List Price: $39.95
Your Price: $31.95
(Worth 3,195 Funagain Points!)
from 1 customer review
Please Login to use shopping lists.
Argentina at the beginning of 19th century. The pastures of the pampas seem to go on forever. You have enough money to buy land and cattle to build a small hacienda.
During the game, players develop their haciendas, increase their herds and land holdings, open new markets, and worry about water supplies and harvests. Also, players must watch their competitors at all times. At game end, the winner is the player with the largest and most important hacienda.
The game comes with two game boards, each requiring a different strategy and approach to be successful and win. The game also offers an alternate scoring system, giving players yet other ways to play. Hacienda is a game that requires thought and planning throughout, representing a challenge for each player.
Sometimes the best games are the most straightforward games. Hacienda is your typical Eurogame - 3-5 players, whoever has the most victory points at the end wins. Over the years this format has become blessedly crowded. Some games continue to be popular at the gaming conventions over time, and others are mere flashes in the plan - fun for a few plays and then mostly gathers dust.
Hacienda is almost good enough to make that elite group of five- star Euros that consistently draws crowds at gaming conventions but ultimately it falls a little short. Nevertheless it is still a very good game and an excellent choice for family game night. The basic turn is about as simple as it gets. Each player performs exactly three actions. Buy a land or animal card, place a land or animal token on the gameboard, put water or haciendas into play (expensive pieces that give one bonus VPs), or harvest (for a quick infusion of cash). A typical turn takes no more than a minute, and a five player game will last about 15 rounds. Veterans will play this game in an hour, people new to the game will take about an hour-and-a-half.
The goal of the game is to earn VPs. They are earned in four ways and are scored twice, once midway through the game and again at games end (the round the last animal card is drawn from a face down pool of cards). The first and most basic is land chains. Any contiguous string of three or more lands will score two points per land. Second, players can purchase a hacienda and place it on any chain of land or animals they have in play, one VP for each land or animal in the chain. Third, players can purchase water and place it on the board in any open area that will accomodate it - the water comes in various sizes and shapes. Every land or animal touching the water scores a VP. Lastly and at the heart of the game are the marketplaces. A player scores VPs based on how many different marketplaces he connects to, and the bonus becomes larger as the number of marketplaces connected to increases. One point for one, three points for two, six for three, etc. Because the bonus is so significant at the higher levels (28 for 7, 36 for 8, 45 for 9) there is intense competition to connect to these - or to shut your opponent out from them. Money is earned during the game every time a player places an animal next to a marketplace, the amount of money being equal to the number of contiguous animals and lands that connect to that marketplace. Animals must extend from existing land chains a player has placed and the land chains start from predefined places on the board.
Like any good Eurogame there are different paths to victory. Connecting to the most marketplaces does not guarantee victory but it is a viable path. Alternatively some players may opt to try to build a very long, water-laden string of land that scores very well and earns a lot of money to buy water and haciendas with.
The gameboard comes with two maps. The first is called the dogbone map because the starting lands look like a large dogbone. Players begin the game by placing lands on the dogbone and then placing animals adjacent to these lands to connect to the various marketplaces. The flip side is a board that is more broken up and in my opinion much more interesting and fun than the dogbone map. Cudos to the designer for making more than one map, because the game is simplistic enough that one would tire quickly playing the same map over and over.
The strength of this game is the simplicity and fun factor. The downside is that the replay value wanes faster than other similar games because the mechanics and strategies remain similar play after play, unlike some of its more dynamic brethren. Ra is a good contrast. Ra is even simpler than Hacienda but the variability in Ra make it a more dynamic game. Hacienda will follow the same paths from game to game. A set of expansion maps for this game would improve its replay value significantly. Overall this is a good addition to any Eurogamers library and I do recommend it.