Shipyard Boardgame Review

It's the late 19th Century, and steam engines are replacing sails on ships. This is the state of shipbuilding in Vladiír Suchý's Shipyard; in which players control a shipyard in 1870. They'll hire employees and build ships - then outfit them with crew and equipment, and take them on a shakedown cruise. Players earn points during a ship's shakedown cruise and at the end of the game when government contracts (private goals) are scored - whoever ends with the most points wins.

The two primary mechanics around which the game revolves are the action selection system and rondels-controlled markets. If you've played other Vladiír Suchý games such as Praga Kaput Regni or Woodcraft you'll recognize the action selection system that limits a player's choices to those actions not chosen on other players' most recent turns, although here the actions are in a linear series rather then a rondel (worry not - there are plenty of rondels here.) In fact, four different markets - each activated by a dedicated action tile - are manipulated via rondels that are nesting on the board, but are not linked in any mechanical way. Because of these mechanisms, knowing which actions and market offerings will be available to a player and the best time to take advantage of them requires that players pay attention not only to their own needs and goals but also those of their opponents.

I never got around to playing the first edition, but I have played the previously mentioned Woodcraft and Praga so while the game was new, the core of it wasn't. There is a lot to keep track of: action tiles; availability of employees, ship components, and crew; and shakedown canals - add to that keeping track of opponents' and one can easily understand why Shipyard rewards repeated plays but also why some players may find it frustrating or intimidating. I, personally, enjoy that process but your mileage may vary. For these reasons (and some omitted for space) I recommend Shipyard - but don't take my word for it; check it out at your local board game library.

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