Monday, October 13, 2014

The Great Heartland Hauling Co. - A Fully Loaded Review

Hi everybody!

Today I am doing a review of The Great Heartland Hauling Company by Jason Kotarski. This game has taken a its sweet, sweet time coming into my possession. It has been between print runs for awhile and has been highly anticipated in this household, so let's see how it stacks up.

The Shipping Box
The Great Heartland Hauling Company is a pickup and deliver game for 2 - 4 truckers (5 if you have the Badlands expansion) that plays in around a half hour. The setup for the game is simple as players arrange the location cards for the number of players as depicted in the rulebook. Each location is then covered with 5 cubes of their native supply good. Players then pick a color truck, place it on the center starting tile, put their score on the $5 place and begin. We currently played a few 2-player games so all of my pictures are of the 2-player setup. Each player is then dealt 5 cards to start the game.
Keep on Truckin'
The active player begins the turn by moving. Movement is done by either spending money, $1 per every space of movement, or by discarding fuel cards that show how many spaces the player may move. Once at the new location the player must choose between the three major actions in the game. They can pickup goods by discarding matching cards (pig cards pickup pink cubes, corn picks up yellow, etc). Picking up is a big part of the game as players want to haul the goods to the locations that will payout the most money for what it is. A good example is to pick up pork and then bring it to Fort Lee as that space pays out $5 for every single pink cube. The second option is to unload goods, here players discard their matching cards and place their goods on their current location to earn money. Money is the point of the game as the most successful trucker wins. The last option is to discard cards, this helps to unburden players from the useless cards in their hands. To discard, players pay $1 and may discard and replace as many cards in their hand as they see fit. Once a player finishes their action, they draw back up to 5 cards in hand and the turn passes to the next player. The end game is triggered when one player hits the target money goal (which varies depending on player count) and then all other players get one more turn to try and get ahead. If a player is left with any undelivered goods they suffer a negative money penalty. The biggest wallet wins.
Fuel and Goods

Now, movement in the game can be an issue. The goods cards, and rightly so, outnumber the fuel cards by a good amount. More often than not a player will shell out the dough in order to get where they want to go instead of using fuel, if they have it. However, if a player can't pay or use fuel cards they get whisked away back to the center location and must take the discard action. This can be very helpful or very annoying depending on the cards you are holding and how much you are willing to trade for new cards.

The artwork of the game is really nice. I enjoy the look of the cards and the road map feel of the locations. The map print really makes the cards pop on the table. The wooden trucks are also pretty meaty and great to move around, but the cubes leave a bit to be desired. I understand the use of cubes, but I like to see shaped pieces. Shaped pieces add a bit of flare and style that cubes can't really convey. That being said, I do have one issue with the location cards, they are double-sided. I love double-sided tiles/cards/boards when they are done right, but this is just annoying. If you are going to make something like part of the board double-sided at least make different sides so the game has more variation and variety when setting up and playing. I would have loved to see them utilize both sides of the card to this end to give more bang for the buck spent instead of wasting the potential of double-sided cards.
Inside the Shipping Container
Another issue I have is that each player's score/money track is two cards. I don't know what it would have done for costs, but I would have liked to have seen box length player boards that hold all of the information instead of two separate objects. One solid piece makes the player area look neater and more organized than two cards.

The game itself can be learned/taught in about 5 minutes and setup is a breeze. It works with a variety of people and in a mixed audience of gamers, plus it works as a good opener to pickup and deliver type games.

Despite my issues with some of the production choices, the game is wonderful looking and functional. The theme, pieces, and mechanics fit very well together to make a fun game. Hauling goods isn't the most exciting theme, but it really is a fun little game.
Player Cards

I give The Great Heartland Hauling Company a decent recommendation. It isn't a game for everyone and some people may find it a little basic. However, it is fun and vibrant, well worth a play.

Thank you all again for reading Daemonic Teutonic. As always, I hope you enjoy the review.

Cheers,
Phil

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