You know what makes the world go round? Food. Especially in the town of Le Havre [$4.99]. You can have all the Francs you want but if you can't feed your workers, you're going to be in a world of pain. After all, hungry men don't make money, they make medical bills.

A fantastically down-to-earth sort of game, Le Havre is yet another nifty iOS port of a well-loved board game. The objective here is simple: you want to become the wealthiest man alive. Well, more or less, at any rate. You really just need to beat your opponents in the profitability department.

In order to accomplish this lofty goal, you're going to have to gather resources, manage buildings, finance construction, provide life-giving sustenance to your minions, build ships and make life as difficult as possible for your fellow capitalists.

It's both simpler and more complex than it sounds. Each round comprises of eight turns. During the first seven turns, you're going to have to decide between picking up one of the offers on the board (the offers basically consist of the seven types of resources in the game. Each turn, the offers will increase slowly in value.) or the usage of a building. This, in comparison to the former, is a somewhat more complicated affair.

When you talk about 'using a building' in Le Havre, it can mean anything from a visit to the abattoir (your squealing cattle will not transform into delectable t-bone steaks themselves) to an excursion to the wharf so as to be able to build a new ship. On the eighth turn, harvest time takes place and you'll be called upon to feed your workers. Once that's done and dealt with, the new round will begin.

And that's one of the things that makes Le Havre so incredibly engrossing; it's not a game that you're going to master in a day. It's not a game that you're going to be able to master in a week. More often than not, you're going to find yourself pleasantly befuddled as a novice. However, what saves it from being frustrating is the fact that everything is rather streamlined.

There are no fancy swipes here. In order to do anything in the game, you simply need to tap once. That's it. information will always be at your disposal. The help files exist in abundance and are easily accessible. Even the tutorial system is refreshingly, well, informative. Le Havre is a game that is not shy about holding your hand or coughing all over the necessary tools. The only thing it won't do for you is help you to win.

In terms of its audiovisual delivery, Le Havre is neither extremely impressive nor atrocious. Both the graphics and the music do enough. No more, no less. Then again, appearances aren't what compels us to play board games, right?

Seriously, though, if you're a fan of board games, you kinda owe it to yourself to pick this one up. I'm usually adverse to the idea of playing a board game on my iPhone but this actually went swimmingly well. It's a solid package and one that will keep your inner entrepreneur happy for hours on end.

TouchArcade Rating

  • Tim Lord Gek Jordan

    It is a bit overwhelming at first to be sure.  Even after you get the game's basic mechanics I find it is then another huge learning curve to become familiar with all of the buildings' functions (do you simply convert all of your grain to bread at the Bakehouse or save some for once the Church becomes available?). However, if you stick with it, I think it is one of the best board games out there as the game seems to develop so many different ways with each play through as you never know which buildings will come up first (if at all) to base your strategies around.

  • UnSurreal

    I really want to play this game - but Magic and Summoner Wars are taking all my time.

  • Silverfist

    You say iPhone... Is this a universal app? I love playing board games on the iPad; iPhone, not so much...


    • Sara Kewin

      It's universal -- easier to play on the iPad, but it works on iPhone too.

  • anthonyafterwit

    The best board game app for iOS. Hands down. And I have them all. The card board version is one of my rare 10's on boardgamegeek. To people new to the game - stick with it (on iPhone especially, you may be overwhelmed by so much info crammed onto the screen) but it's so worth it. Seriously, it makes every other board game seem meh.

    • bleeps

      You'd recommend this over Puerto Rico? I haven't played either before but am looking for a good, heavier weight iOS Euro game.

      • anthonyafterwit

        This bumped Puerto Rico out of the top spot for me. But I recommend both - they're definitely different enough. Both will take a little time to figure out, but both are absolutely worth it.

      • IpadGamer

        I realize this thread is very old, but I'm curious as to what other 10's you've provided on boardgamegeek? I'm just now beginning to get into board games (thanks to iOS) and wondered what else you really enjoy?

    • Benegesserit

      What is the best iOS board game that's pick up and play? I'm not looking for something with a steep learning curve on a mobile device.

      • Eric Chan

        Try Ticket to Ride (or the Pocket version, if you're on a phone). Great core game, with a short learning curve, and stellar production from the developer.

Le Havre (The Harbor) Reviewed by Cassandra Khaw on . Rating: 4.5