Gamer's Inn Friday May 8th - this evening started out with Nathan Winchester and I playing a not-so-quick game of Hive (with the mosquito). I got cocky and when it looked like I'd win again, Nathan blocked me and extended the game. Thinking this was just an annoyance, I didn't do a very good job at just ending the game and we both went back and forth blocking each other until I finally wasn't able to stop him. Really a good game played and I didn't mind losing this time.
Of course, a lot of folks had arrived by then and we ended up breaking into two groups. Matthew Frederick and Dion Garner joined Nathan and I for a playing of Antike. Interestingly, this was the first time I've played with less than 6 players - though it was fine, I actually prefer the full complement. Sadly, I was placed between Matthew and Dion who both went for squishing me (I don't know why everyone hasn't figured out that Nathan is the one that normally needs sqooshing). My only hope was gold and vps from knowledge - I placed temples on gold sites. Tragically though, Nathan had been left to his own devices for the early part of the game and he managed to be just ahead of me in money each time and grabbed the points before I could. With Matthew smashing his way through me and Dion spending his time fortifying against me instead of attacking Nathan, I had no chance. By the time Dion realized he needed to smash Nathan, Matthew had already plundered half the board (I couldn't keep him in check thanks to Dion and Nathan had turtled up) and was easily in position to win. He marched his way around and pretty soon had the 9 VPs he needed to win. Nathan was second, 2 points behind, with Dion and I in the rear at 6 and 5 points.
After that, we pulled out Le Havre, which I still hadn't tried out. Le Havre is a near cousin to Agricola, and sadly I treated Le Havre as if they were too similar. Agricola feels much more like an engine game - you need to build a food engine which then allows you to focus your efforts on gathering resources to score points. Le Havre is similar - you must figure out a food source, but you don't really build a unique food engine. You can acquire buildings, but that just means that you can get a discount for using it - others can use it and in fact block you from using it. So rather than an engine game with resource management, La Havre is ALL about the resource management. You want to find a strategy to effectively use the resources you can acquire. Agricola and Le Havre have a similar feel and pace, but are different enough that they don't feel quite like a rehash of the other. At any rate, for this game, Nathan and I just kind of went with the flow. I grabbed a load of buildings, but never positioned myself for a ship and ended the game having never got one and never having shipped goods. Dion had ships and moved goods a number of times and easily won the game. Scores were: Dion-124, Matthew-114, Nathan-107, Charles-102. Much like Agricola, I think it takes a couple of plays to grok the flow and then it is pretty straight forward. I know that this game has been described as a more "gamery" version of Agricola, but I don't think that the game is really that much more of a gamery feel. I can't say that I actually have a preference of one over the other at this point (assuming you played Agricola with a card draft).