Earth Day was fairly recent, and on that day I was looking at my giant pile of cardboard, plastic, and wooden games thinking, “Which one would be appropriate to post about?” Immediately my eyes were drawn to Haven.
Haven is designed by Alf Seegert and illustrated by Ryan Laukat. It plays 2 players in about 30 minutes and retails for $25. In the game, you will take on the role of the Forest or the City.
Will nature prevail or will technology once again crush beauty from the world?
- Place the game board between two players sitting directly across from each other.
- Place the three Elemental standees on the three Shrines.
- Put the four Victory Point Cards near the board, face-up.
- Sort the Lore Tokens by type, shuffling them into three face-down stacks. Flip the top token from each stack.
- Give six Shrine Tokens to each player, making sure the player has the appropriate side face-up.
- Give ten Haven Tokens to each player, cogs to the City and leaves to the Forest.
- Give each player a player aid and have them claim all the cards in their player color. Remove and set aside one of each Offering Card (Leaf, Water, and Stone).
- Shuffle Seekers, Offerings, and Lore power separately to make three decks. Then, place these decks face-down on your side of the board in their corresponding spaces.
- Each player has four cards in their starting hand (one Seeker card, and the three Offering cards set aside earlier).
- Forest gets a bonus Lore card and City always begins the game.
Game Play – Each player’s turn follows the five steps:
- Perform Up to two Actions
- Declare a Lore Token first, and then add a Seeker from your hand (face-down) or Seeker deck (face-up) underneath said Lore Token.
- Remove one of your Seekers from underneath one of the Lore Tokens.
- Play a Lore Power card (once per turn) from your hand, perform its action, and then discard it.
- Draw two cards in any combination from your three decks of cards. (Note: If you have no Offering Cards, you must draw at least one. Also, if you draw an Elemental, immediately play it and draw a replacement.)
- If a Lore Token, has three or more Offerings between both sides, flip over all the Seekers. If someone has a total Lore value exceeding the Lore Token value, they discard all their cards. Add up weapons on the cards and winner puts a token on the Shrine where that Elemental standee was located and loser moves the standee to a new empty spot. If you have the majority of shrines surrounding a haven, place one of your tokens on it. Then, add up the value of each player’s Lore on the Seeker cards. Winner receives the Lore Token.
- Place one Offering Card from your hand on your side of any Lore Token.
- End your turn by discarding down to seven cards. Check for the end game by determining if one or more Elemental standees have been removed or if all Lore Tokens of one type have been claimed. If not, then end your turn and play passes to your opponent.
When the game ends, calculate final score based on Lore tokens, Elementals claimed, and shrines. Highest score wins.
If I’m being honest, I generally avoid two-player games like the plague. I believe I only have two in my collection, counting Haven. The reason I generally avoid them is because I feel limited by them. If I love them, then I can only ever play them with one person, so no playing it with the rest of my family or my game group. With that said, when I saw that Alf Seegert and Ryan Laukat were collaborating again, I knew I had to check it out. Their other game that I know of is Dingo’s Dreams, which is a fun slide-puzzle like game for four players. Like Dingo’s Dreams, this game has a bit of a puzzle feel to it, only the puzzle is trying to figure out what your opponent is doing with each Lore Token and making sure you can claim it at the opportune time, so they cannot. For that reason, I would compare this game more to a tug-of-war than a cat and mouse like game.
The aspect I liked most about Haven was the artwork. If it’s a Red Raven game, you know that Ryan Laukat is going to paint a brilliant masterpiece that draws you into the world, the theme, and the game play. As for the game play, I felt a bit dense the first time I read through this rule book. There is a lot of game specific terminology to help immerse you in the theme. My second time reading through the rules and playing a solo game from both perspectives helped crystallize everything.
Once I figured it out, I have had a blast playing both Forest and City, though I am a bit partial to the City. There is a fair amount of replay value in the number of cards, order you draw the cards, which side you play, and even advanced rules to try out. If you want an introduction to Red Raven games, this is a good one to start with. If you like two-player games, Haven is a worthy one to add to your collection. Be sure to check out Ryan Laukat’s other games at Red Raven Games.
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Copyright 2019 Stuart Dunn
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