15 of 17 people found the following review helpful
= Durability: = Fun: = Educational:
This review is from: Ora and Labora (Toy)
After having played through Ora et Labora around five times, I believe I can make a reasonable early review.
Ora et Labora is not quite as famous yet as its predicessor Agricola (or La Havre), but I expect that to change. It is very quickly climbing the ranks at Boardgamegeek.com.
I am not going to give a detailed overview of the game, as there are already plenty of them at boardgamegeek and they are assuredly better written than what I could do.
Here's the skinny on out it works:
You are a monestary in the Middle Ages. You are charged with expanding your land with the help of your priory and lay brothers. It follows Uwe Rosenberg's other games in the sense that it relies heavily on resource management and conversion. There are a lot of buildings to be built that will allow you to further change one of the fifteen so resources into more advanced resources. There is some player interaction in the fact that you can pay other people to use their works. While the game has similar mechanics to Agricola, it is definitely a different game. This is not just a reprinting of the same thing.
I will say this. Ora et Labora is a longer game than Agricola and a good deal more complex. Where I would say after one or two plays of Agricola most people get their heads around it, it will take a bit longer with Ora et Labora. Our first play-through with three people took four hours but that has not been the norm since. They seem to take between two and three hours normally.
A lot has been made about what some say is "poor components." I do not believe this to be the case. My game did not have any misprints. The tiles used for resources are very sturdy and work great for their purposes. The cards are admittedly smaller, but if they were a larger size, there would never be room for this game! This was a necessity. The resource wheel is ingenious and functional. There have been complaints about how hard it is to get the wheel apart and back together (as you do need to do this if you play with a different number of people). It's really not that difficult - I have successfully done it without any tools every time - just don't jam it on there each time you use it! The instruction books are FANTASTIC. There are several included, one for set-up, one as a basic walk-through, and advanced detailed walk-through, and a book detaling all of the buildings. I am yet to have to look up a rule on the internet. They did a fantastic job here. My only complaint is the quick reference sheets are of a rather thin material, but this was easily remedied as I'm a teacher and have quick access to a laminator.
The strategy is deep and the theme is great. The components work just fine and some of the negativity is way overblown. If you're into Euro gaming and especially if you like Agricola, this is a great game to own.