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Game review: Caverna, Bremerhaven offer worker placement fun

By Cody Carlson

For the Deseret News

Published: Tuesday, Feb. 25 2014 4:30 p.m. MST

Players may also attempt to bid on rank, which essentially is turn order. Players may either be the Captain, the First Mate, the Mate or the Cook. All cards set before the actions are revealed and the player who placed the greatest number gets to do that action for the round. Players may then move goods from ships to their dockyard, and move already unloaded goods to the loading dock for transport overland. Players may engage in several other individual actions at this point, and use the special abilities of their buildings. Additionally, a newspaper event deck introduces random elements like pirates and taxes — things that may benefit some players but spell disaster for others.

Players gain money and prestige by selling goods, fulfilling contracts and attracting the right ships. At the end of the game a player's prestige is multiplied by his or her money, giving him or her a victory point total. Whoever has the most victory points wins the game.

Bremerhaven is a bit of a mixed bag. First of all the bidding system is phenomenal and forces players to commit to those actions they really want to do. Conversely, other players can throw a monkey wrench into someone's plans by attempting to deny the coveted action to them.

It is a very fun mechanic for a worker placement game that breeds tension and excitement with every placed card. The subsequent individual player actions are decent, but lack the excitement of the bidding, and often get bogged down in bookkeeping. Additionally, the rulebook is not as well laid out as it could have been, leading to some confusion here and there, especially in matters of timing actions. There is a bit of a learning curve overall, as well.

Bremerhaven is generally a fun game, and die-hard fans of worker placement will eat up the bidding system. More casual players may get turned off by the bookkeeping and individual action phases, however. The game plays in about 1-2 hours, depending on if a player opts for the full game or the short game version, and is recommended for ages 12 and up.

Karnickel

Also from Mayfair Games/Lookout Games is Karnickel, a new game for kids that features rabbits, carrots and an angry train. One to four players take on the roll of a rabbit that is placed on a circular train track board with images of carrots on most spaces.

Each turn players take tuns rolling several dice with two different colors on each side, each color representing a rabbit, and black arrows for train movement. The rolling player can move any rabbit along the track he or she wants however many of that colored dice appear. Black arrows are removed and the remaining dice are passed to the next player, who repeats the process. Once all the dice have been eliminated, all seven are rolled to see how far the train moves. If the train moves into a space with a bunny it gets scared and runs off the track. If it stays on the track it gets the number of carrot tokens for that space. The first player to eight carrots wins.

Karnickel is a light game that small children will enjoy. The game does suffer from some less than stellar components, including a track that comes apart very easily and dice that require players to put stickers on them, but these are minor complaints in what is generally an engaging game for children.

Karnickel is recommended for ages 6 and up and plays in about 15 minutes.

Cody K. Carlson holds a master's degree in history from the University of Utah and currently teaches at SLCC. Cody has also appeared on many local stages including Hale Centre Theatre and Off Broadway Theatre. Email: ckcarlson76@gmail.com

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