I had the opportunity over the weekend to play Ora et Labora. This is Uwe Rosenberg’s latest creation released in late 2011. I was hesitant to play as we were starting late and we didn’t know the rules. We had agreed up front to play a few turns and then switch to something shorter. After a few turns in we had the basics down, and decided to play through to the end.
If you have played Agricola\Le Havre, this game feels like a close relative. The use of a rondel for tracking resource availability is a dramatic improvement over the way additional resources need to be added to the board in Agricola.
Like Le Havre, players take control of various buildings which in turn are used to perform actions. In Le Havre, all of the buildings remain centrally located, but other players can use them. In Ora et Labora, players buy buildings that are then moved to the players individual tableau. My main gripe is this approach makes it harder to see all of the actions that are available since the buildings are no longer kept in a central location on the table.
My short reaction is that, Ora et Labora plays differently enough that it would be an addition to my game collection, not a replacement of Le Havre or Agricola. The turns play fairly quickly, however those prone to over analysis could slow the game down as the options begin to expand later in the game.
After one play, I have my credit card ready to order a copy for my collection.