The Tao of Gaming

Boardgames and lesser pursuits

Hansa Teutonica

I got in two games of Hansa Teutonica (German for “Most boring name possible.” Seriously, does the name mean Like the Hanseatic shipping league, only, you know, German?) this Monday. There are reviews a-plenty, so let me just give some random thoughts for now:

  • I won the 2nd game without even improving to 3 actions a turn. Granted, we seriously fought over those actions, but one player did get his 3rd action ASAP, and he lost. Putting your first cube into a city that scores 3-4 VPs (when other people use the route) and then 1-2 network VPs, and maybe 2 VPs for control of the city is not to be scoffed at. Even if you really need your 3rd action among experienced players (which I could believe) this bodes well.
  • Also lots of discussion over the use of discs (traders? Merchants?). Great blockers, but using them to claim key cities also seems nice.
  • Overall, quite impressed with the number of paths, especially given how few technologies exist.
  • But the real warning sign — our second game slowed significantly. I don’t play at Huber speed, but I’m not terribly slow (and neither is our group … we play Battlestar Galactica in 75 minutes, and plenty of games well under listed time). But people pondered their moves. Paralysis kills, and H.T. would be no exception.
  • Seemed to work well with 3 and 4, and I hear  5 is good.

Right now (after 2 plays) this will certainly attract me for a few more plays, then I’ll decide if it warrants purchasing…

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Written by taogaming

May 12, 2010 at 11:15 pm

Posted in Reviews

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11 Responses

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  1. Awesome, awesome game. I apologise for gushing. Prob the best game I played last year next to Le Havre.

    Reasonable playtime (shorter than Stone Age, about the same as Endeavor) with good depth and multiple paths to specialise in, none overly powerful. Going the path of least resistance seems a good strategy so far. Granted it is somewhat abstract a most Euros are but one of the best recent buys I made for sure.

    Matthew

    May 13, 2010 at 7:24 am

  2. Hansa Teutonica is a great game and I don’t know what you mean about the name… maybe it’s because it sounds foreign or something, but to me it sounds pretty unique and cool.

    Anyway, my experience with the game boils down to this:
    Step 1: Hestiant to play, looked dry
    Step 2: after 1/2 a play I was totally intrigued and wanted to play again right away once I knew what I was doing
    Step 3: Absolutely loved the game for about 6 or so more plays. Me and my friends started getting really good at the game, and figuring out how to play well.
    Step 4: Once you’re really good at the game, it becomes very cutthroat, and AP occurs more and more often. our games got longer and longer as we got better and better. It was still interesting though.
    Step 5: After a while it just became no fun for me – a big game of chicken for who’s willing to bump who first. It’s still a good game, and I got 10 good plays out of it before my friend who owned it moved away, but I never feel like playing it anymore because I’m afraid it’ll feel like work.

    So be warned. The game is awesome, but it’s more fun before everyone gets good at it. Also, I think 5p isn’t as good as 4p or 3p. 3 and 4 both seem to work fine, but 5p is a little rough just based on the time it takes, and maybe on player 5 feeling screwed from the outset (though that’s not necessarily true, depends on a lot of stuff).

    Seth Jaffee

    May 13, 2010 at 1:10 pm

  3. @Matthew: SHORTER than Stone Age, but AS LONG AS Endeavor? I don’t think of Endeavor as terribly long, but I don’t think think it’s any longer than Stone Age.

    In any case, Hansa Teutonica is longer than either of them. Certainly once players get better at the game and AP starts to set in more.

    Seth Jaffee

    May 13, 2010 at 4:25 pm

  4. …Going the path of least resistance seems a good strategy so far….

    That’s what i noticed after that second game with Brian. I decided to join in on the fight between Brian and the other guy, when i prob should have broken off to focus on other stuff. Great game.

    Rob

    May 13, 2010 at 6:36 pm

  5. Maybe it’s just me – I always find that my games of Stone Age last about 90min. Hansa comes in about 75min, Endeavor about there or perhaps a tinge shorter.

    Thing is, Stone Age FEELS long, even those games that I play in 60-80min. Hansa keeps me on my toes constantly, I find myself engaged constantly. And even at the end, it often feels like one player is rushing to end the game which ups the ante.

    matthewchua

    May 13, 2010 at 10:17 pm

  6. Latin for “Most boring name possible involving the word “German” somewhere”, but otherwise I’d say your spot on. Let me guess: this is a German title? Nobody ever claimed creativity was one of our national virtues…

    Michael Stadermann

    May 13, 2010 at 11:27 pm

  7. Just for the contrast – after 1/2 a play I would have preferred to abandon the game. Perhaps my least favorite game from 2009; I won’t play it a second time by choice.

    And also to contrast, I agree completely about the name, though I think of it more as truth in advertising…

    Joe Huber

    May 14, 2010 at 7:58 am

  8. Joe: Interesting – what turned you off?

    To clarify, the first 1/2 of the first game I played I felt a bit turned off – I hadn’t seen the subtleties yet, and it felt like we were all just doing the same thing (trying to upgrade techs, mainly actions)… half way through the game I started thinking about how you actually win, and I started to see all the different possible ways to go about it, and suddenly the game seemed more and more interesting.

    In my next couple of plays, we thought the bonus tokens seemed a little lame (a groupthink thing), then someone decided to go for them, and oh my god did they wreck house! In more recent games there’s been competition for EVERYTHING.

    Seth Jaffee

    May 14, 2010 at 12:57 pm

  9. I wouldn’t say it’s so much that I was turned off, as that half way through I was entirely unegaged. Playing with folks I enjoy playing games with, I didn’t care in the least what happened. I fear the details are fuzzy at this point – I tend to forget about games I don’t enjoy – but the game felt entirely abstract to me, with elements of take-that added in for a bonus.

    That’s why I think the “Teutonica” appelation is appropriate. It’s a fine example of what I don’t care for in German games; a theme that doesn’t fit the mechanisms for me.

    Joe Huber

    May 18, 2010 at 10:12 am

  10. “I tend to forget about games I don’t enjoy – but the game felt entirely abstract to me, with elements of take-that added in for a bonus.”

    The “take that” aspect is strongly mitigated by the reward you get for getting displaced (one or two extra cubes in adjacent routes) and the penalty incurred by the person displacing you. Once you realize what’s going on, you often set yourself up to get bumped on purpose in order to get more cubes on the board without wasting actions (very economical way to get board presence for city control and route extension, i.e., VP’s). You need to place cubes in spots where you benefit when either you get bumped or when no one interferes. This may not be immediately clear during the first game and thus felt like a “take that” game, but once you learn how to place cubes that nearly always result in benefits, you’ll conclude this is one of the best strategy games in recent years. 🙂

    Eric

    May 18, 2010 at 3:29 pm

  11. It’s not a “take that” game. It’s a “give it to me” game. You want people to displace you so you are all struggling to get in each other’s way. Quite a different feel.

    It’s also very resistance to a priori strategy analysis, as your most effective moves are all relative to your opponents’ moves.

    out4blood

    May 25, 2010 at 9:18 pm


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