Published by: Capstone Games
# of Players: 2 to 4
Haspelknecht is filled with lots of wooden pieces and thick cardboard. Each player will have their own homestead board that is just as thick as some game boards. Haspelknecht also provides a center board that keeps track of score, the various stages of each season and which year you are currently in. Black wooden cubes are used to symbolize coal that is mined. There are 3 different color wooden action discs that you will be collecting to perform different actions during the game. Haspelknecht also comes with cardboard hexes that represent different technologies you can learn and buildings that can be added to your homestead. The rule book for Haspelknecht explains the game in simplified detail. Each aspect of the game has illustrations in the rule book to help explain each detail. There were a few times that I did have to go searching for some rule clarification and some answers were vague. Haspelknecht provides your standard euro style component elements but they will handle lots of wear.
Haspelknecht is played over 3 years with the goal of having the most victory points at the end of the third year. Each player starts the game with a player board that has their farm and mine displayed. Each player will have 18 coal nodes to mine, but must work to develop their mining area to be able to mine each one. The center of the table will contain the year wheel board that shows the various phases for each and a score tracker. Also in the center of the table will be a grid of hexes that form a development board. There are 4 levels of developments to earn and the rules provide various ways to set up the board. Finally there will be resource boards that have 2 areas on each tile. The left area will hold 3 action discs that will move over the next season and the right area will contain 6 action discs that will be available to be obtained during the planning phase.
Each year is split into the 4 seasons and each season will have a series of phases. The first phase in spring and fall is pit water. Basically it rained and your mining area filled up with some water. Each player will add one water token to their mining pit. If water tokens meet or exceed the limit shown on the board, you will not be able to mine till you empty your mining pit. Spring, summer, and fall each have 2 phases that make up the main action of the game. The first of those phases is the action planning phase. Players (starting with first player) will take all of one color action disc from one of the resource boards and place them on the first planning space on their player board. Once everyone has taken their first set of action discs, players will have a second opportunity to take action discs. Once again it must be all of one color, but the player can only have a total of 5 actions discs on their player board. So if you took 4 yellow discs the first round of picking, then you will only be able to take 1 additional disc. You can take the same color as you did in the previous picking or take discs of a different color. Once everyone has taken their discs, they will determine the new player order. This is done by totaling up number of discs they took during the first round of picking and adding up the total of each discs worth. Black discs are worth one, brown 2, and yellow 3. So having 2 black discs will put you ahead of someone who took 1 yellow disc in turn order.
When a player uses their farmer to develop a technology, they will spend action discs according to what is listed at the top of the hex. Grey discs are wild and can be any color disc. Once the player pays the cost, they will place a disc of their player color on the technology to show they developed it. Players can earn victory points depending on how many others have developed that technology. If a person develops a technology that you already have a disc on, they may have an addition resource cost that will have to pay you in return of adding their disc to that development. Players can develop more technologies throughout the game, but after level 1 they must develop a technology hex that is adjacent to one you already developed. Technologies can provide buildings, bonus effects, or additional end game scoring. Your mine only has 18 coal nodes and each is mined once. You do not have access to your full mine at the start and must use wood to reinforce your mine so that you can collect coal further in the pit. Once you have emptied your surface pit, you will place a tile over the pit that will give you access to two new contract workers and give you access to your mine shaft. You will need wood to reinforce your shaft to collect those nodes, but provide bonuses for collecting them. Coal from the mine shaft does not go directly to your farm like it does when you mined from the surface pit. Instead you will have to use your Haspelknecht contract worker to bring the mined coal to your farm.
During winter you will go through 3 phases. First you will turn in coal to score victory points. After that you will have the winter payment phase that has you paying your upkeep for the year. This will be a mix of money and food. If you can not afford to pay, you will take debt tokens for each item you money and food you can not pay. Finally you will go into the winter storage phase. During this phase players will store one of a good in each of their buildings that can store a good. For each good stored the player will earn some victory points. All remaining goods will be returned to the general supply. After 3 years players will do final scoring. Players will earn points for how far they developed their mine shaft. Players can score points from development bonuses that provide points for certain icons. Players will also receive points for how many buildings they developed and unused bonus action markers they earned. Players will also earn points for how many coins they have. Finally players will subtract points for debt tokens they have and water tokens in their mine after the first token. The player with the highest total wins the game.
First off, Haspelknecht is quite the tough title to say or spell. Once you get past the name, the actual game does a great job of showing what early coal mining may have been like. I like the way action discs are selected and the various paths of strategy. Do you go all out mining, or do you build up your homestead with buildings and technologies? Do you take the action discs that help you the most or hurt someone else more. Some that played complained that in the end it is still another game that is just trying to collect the most victory points. I felt Haspelknecht had plenty of unique aspects that made it feel different than other euros that are about collecting victory points. Haspelknecht is not for your rookie gamer, but also not strictly for your heavier board game type. I find it to be a good mid to light-heavyweight type game. Majority of what you do in the game fits in with the theme of mining coal. I warn you that it will be hard to not crack a few immature jokes while playing the game. Someone is going to say something that will get someone giggling. I would recommend this to someone who is looking for a heavier euro but scared to dive into the real deep end. I enjoyed Haspelknecht and felt it was different enough to warrant a spot in my collection.
+Gameplay displays the coal mining theme
+Various paths of strategy that each can get you the victory
+A good level up from a person who wants to try a harder euro
+Lots of good critical decision making
+Strong quality components
- A rough game name to spell and say
- Some will feel it is just another victory point game
- Some rule clarification is hard to find or not in the rule book
- Takes a while to teach and learn