After only 36 hours of life, Dice Hate Me Games‘s latest project New Bedford: A Board Game of History Whaling and Town Building continues to pick up steam. With over 26 days left to go, the game is over the halfway mark, raising over $16,000 of its $30,000 goal from over 400 backers.
Set in 1800’s New Bedford, Massachusetts, the game allows players to follow the growth of the town from a simple fishing village into what would become the center of America’s vast whaling industry and earn the title “The City That Lit the World”.
The “Light” in this case comes from lamp oil produced from the rendered blubber of whales, harvested in staggering numbers. It was in New Bedford that Herman Mellville worked as a whaler before writing his classic novel Moby Dick, a book densely packed with commentary on the whaling industry from sailing ship to trying pot.
From the kickstarter page
Over twelve rounds players take turns placing their two workers. The town board and whaling board contain basic game actions: taking goods (food, wood, brick), selling goods, constructing buildings, docking ships, and launching ships. These actions can be used multiple times per round, with the first player to do so in a round receiving a bonus or more goods or reducing the number of goods paid.
According to The League of Nonsensical Gamers, actual play of New Bedford looks very similar to Le Havre.
From the League
Very few games find the perfect blend between familiar mechanisms and fresh design, but New Bedford does exactly that! The worker placement and city building will have most folks feeling right at home, while the whaling mechanism provides a new way to consider resource management. I love how the timing and risk/reward aspects are so beautifully integrated into the theme of the game. The way you plan each expedition by gathering wood to prepare your ship and stockpiling food to feed your crew is intuitive and easy to teach to players at any level.
The signature new mechanic for the game, the whaling phase, sees players setting their clippers to sea, harpoons loaded and hungry for Right, Bowhead and the huge, highly-coveted Sperm Whales. True to the grim history of industrial whaling, as the players depend more and more on whaling for their profits, so the population of whales will dwindle until very few will remain.
For readers looking for more behind-the-scenes info on this historical game, check out designer Nathaniel Levan‘s development blog here. Or take a look at community responses at the Board Game Geek link here.