Do your best to make your mark in a port city of industry. Be careful, everyone needs to eat and while you are trying to amass a fortune, you need to make sure to have enough food, or money to buy it, at the end of each year. While the gameplay is simplistic the strategy is quite deep.
Each round comprises seven player turns. On your turn you place out the new goods shown on your boat placement and then choose between either taking one of the offers of goods available or moving your worker to another building in order to use its effects. Depending on who starts the round you will have a different amount of actions, which can make it challenging to get everything done before you need to feed everyone.
The real trick is getting boats built at the wharf sooner because they provide a steady supply of food to make meeting your needs easier. Also the game somewhat assumes with new boats built you will be able to meet the early demand levels so as the rounds continue the demand for food increases. Once you have the ability to regularly meet your food needs though you can start to focus on accumulating wealth and manufacturing buildings.
The resource tiles are fun in that each of them have two sides. One being the raw material and the other side being the processed material. One example would be fish - and early source of food in the game. Once a smokery is built you are able to flip those fish over into smoked fish which provide more food that just fish.
Le Havre definitely can have a rather steep learning curve which means if you get behind it can be hard to catch up. If you don’t have the food or money at the end of the round you have to take a loan. Then each round you have to pay interest on that loan if you don’t pay it back . If you can’t afford the interest, you have to take out another loan. This can become a bit of a vicious cycle. One more warning would be to not play the game with the full player count or even with 4 players. This advice is even in the rulebook stating that high player counts are for expert players only.
Le Havre is challenging, but we found it to be less stressful than some of Uwe Rosenberg’s other games with the need to feed your workers to be less demanding and more possible to achieve than in some of his other titles like Agricola. If a challenging competitive economic engine game sounds like your cup of tea then find two friends and try this fun if difficult title.