Another review up: Hacienda.
Hacienda is a solo work from Wolfgang Kramer, published by Hans im Glück. That’s quite a combo: one of the esteemed professional designers and one of the most appreciated publishers known for quality games. This definitely sets up the expectations.
While Hacienda isn’t a particularly great game, it’s good. What Kramer has done is to take bits and pieces here and there — there’s little in Hacienda that feels fresh, new or unique. Yet the whole is more than the sum of its parts.
Endless streches of land
Players build ranches and herds of cattle on the pampa of Southern America. The land scores points and some money, the animals make money and some points. Basically you’re building as long stretches of land as possible, while connecting the animal herds to markets to make money and points.
Getting land and cattle takes cards. Cards are drafted Alan Moon -style from closed decks or open selection. Drafting cards takes money, so there’s a bit of resource balancing going on. There’s also limited time. You’ve got just three action points each turn, and would prefer to spend as few as possible on resupplying instead of actually doing something.
Challenge and tension
I like the challenges the game offers. There’s a feel of urgency and tension, which is always good. Yet at the same time Hacienda still feels a bit too familiar. I suppose I would’ve loved this game few years (and hundred or two games) earlier. Now, it’s a good game amongst many other good games, and I feel little need to actually buy it.
The biggest flaws seem to be the openness of the boards (there are two different board layouts, which is nice way to spice up the game) and the power of long land chains. I have a feeling that both are remedied by more aggressive playing. Still, I would recommend Hacienda for four or more; with three, the board is quite wide.
If you’re looking for something quite solid and fun to play for four or five players, Hacienda is a good choice. Particularly for those who are not jaded by the countless flow of new good games… Hacienda isn’t a bad choice for less experienced gamers, either. The theme is fun and the rules are pretty clear. Me, I’m happy to play this at SpielByWeb every now and then.