We took quite some time punching out the bits and sleeving the cards so decided to give the shortened version a try. It took us only about an hour to get through the game. But as I suspected, the shortened game doesn't give the full flavour of the game. There were only 8 rounds and despite starting with a load of resources, I felt somewhat lost as to what to do with the actions remaining. I lost the game 107 to Van's 127 after making a couple of mistakes:
1. I spent too much time accumulating resources and was left with inadequate actions to convert them to cash via shipping.
2. I assumed taking loans was similarly advantageous in the shortened game as the standard game but realized that the limited actions coupled with the lack of the Court for free repayment made it more 'costly' to acquire loans. However by the time I realized, I was already saddled with 4 loans.
3. I planned to use my final action to purchase the Bank which would have won me the game. Unfortunately I mistakenly assumed that the building cost was 4 bricks and 1 iron which I prepared but it turned out to be 4 bricks and 1 steel. The resources I had remaining didn't allow me to take an alternative action which proved to be my downfall.
In Puerto Rico, timing is key in determining when to switch from acquiring money to VPs. Likewise, I'm starting to see that timing is similarly key in Le Havre where one has to decide when to start converting the resources acquired to cash and VPs. If one is left with a significant stash of resources at the end of the game (which count for nothing), clearly he or she has failed to time that well. I'm glad there's an option of the shortened game for days when the full game would be an overkill but my preference is to get the full game in cause it's clearly the superior option.