Review – Hagoth, Builder of Ships by Mayday Games

Hagoth, Builder of Ships Review

By Mayday Games and designed by Mike Drysdale

Please note that a review copy of this game was generously provided by the folks at Mayday Games.

Ok, cards on the table so to speak.  As a Latter Day Saint, I make no apologies for stating that I had a real interest in playing this game from the moment it was published as the theme and title character of Hagoth comes straight from the Book of Mormon. There was a Hagoth and yes, he is referred to in the Book of Mormon as a man who built ships. Here is the scriptural reference –

  1.  

    And it came to pass that Hagoth, he being an exceedingly curious man, therefore he went forth and built him an exceedingly large ship, on the borders of the land Bountiful, by the land Desolation, and launched it forth into the west sea, by the narrow neck which led into the land northward.

I am fascinated that Mike Drysdale came up with the creative vision for this game out of this small verse about a man who is virtually a footnote. And yet he has. We have here a game that captures the essence of the brief reference to Hagoth and the ships he built.

Hagoth is a game for 2-4 players aged 8+ where players design, build and sail ships from the land called Bountiful to the Land Northward. Players earn victory points for launching ships at the harbour and completing their journeys. The first player to reach 25 points wins.

Game play

Cards are provided for the players to design their ships as is wood pieces for them to build their ships. The cards can be used to create different designs from small sleek vessels to larger more ponderous ships. The object is to choose cards and create up to 2 designs at a time to build. As you build your ship plans you can then construct the ships using wood pieces. Once you complete a ship you can launch it to cross to the Land Northward. The smaller ships cross quickly but earn less  victory points. The larger points score you nice chunks of victory points. The components are nice with good artwork and ship tokens.

Each turn you can choose up to 2 cards from your hand and  –

  • Go wooding – build up a stockpile to construct your ships (based on a die roll)
  • Build a completed ship blueprint with wood (using build cards to determine how much wood)
  • Sail a ship (using sail cards to determine how much movement)
  • Attack an opponent – not so much an attack but play cards to make things difficult by slowing down their ships, losing wood from partially built ships or even losing part of their blueprints

Alternatively, you can opt to play no cards and choose one of 3 more limited actions:

  • Go wooding
  • Build one segment of a completed blueprint with a piece of wood
  • Sail a ship one space

It all works simply and logically and pretty quickly within each turn. There is enough variety of choices and the cards are well designed and clear so this is an easy game to get playing pretty quickly.

Although each turn plays quickly, there are times when you have no choice but to discard 2 cards in the hopes of pulling more useful times and if you are unlucky in the cards you choose, this can be frustrating and make the game too long overall. I played with a couple of young friends and they got the game play easy enough but their interest began to wane a little until I realised that if you lower the victor point goal, especially with young kids, to say 12 – 15 points, it works out pretty well.

Did it work for me?

Although I had a personal interest in the game due to the theme, I have to say that it stands up well on its own as a good design and a fun game. I would say that it probably works best as a 2-player game. There really isn’t much chance for analysis paralysis so the game moves along but, I do think that 25 victory points makes for a longer game with more than 2 players than it needs to be. The core engine of the game is about card hand management. If you lower the threshold to say 12-15, you can have relatively quicker games with less frustration of poor card hands and discards.

Family friendly?

Yes it is. 8+ works as an age range but a bit younger could get the game as well. With a lower point threshold, it can work very well for a family. My young friends loved this game and want to play again which speaks volumes.

Boardgames in Blighty rating 6.5 out of 10 – solid game and good family time fun!

For more information about Mayday Games and their games go to – http://maydaygames.com/

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4 thoughts on “Review – Hagoth, Builder of Ships by Mayday Games”

  1. I was happy to see your review of Hagoth and that it fared about as well with our family. I was also pleased to see that you’re LDS as well and had the same interest in the game as we did when we first saw it.

    We first saw it at a local game convention in Salt Lake City (SaltCON) last February and as soon as we saw the name, we knew we’d want to give it a try too. We posted our video and written review recently as well and gave it about the same ratings. We’ve found that with 4 players it really bogs down and goes longer than we’d like for this type of game. But with 2 and 3 we have fun.

    Cheers across the pond from The Board Game Family.
    http://www.TheBoardGameFamily.com

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  2. Thanks very much for the comments! Please stay in touch and I will try and do the same. Great to connect with LDS gamers like yourselves. I saw your review your son’s comments. Great stuff. Yes I think 2-3 is the max to have a good gaming experience on this one.

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