Village is a game that may seem complex at first but once you get your head wrapped around the rules, it plays quite well and offers plenty of strategy in earning prestige points in a variety of ways.
The game is setup depending on how many players there are, and at the beginning of every round, the board is seeded with influence cubes. There are five cube colors. Orange (Skill used for Crafts and Travel) Green (Persuasiveness used for Market and Council Chamber) Brown (Faith used for Church and Travel) Pink (Knowledge used for Crafts and Travel) Black (Plague has no use but it speeds up time on your life track – 2 spaces)
There are seven main colored locations (action spaces) to choose from on the main game board.
• Going to the Market (blue)
• Traveling (green)
• Harvesting Grain (pink)
• Influencing in Council Chamber (red)
• Recruit a family member (pink)
• Going to Church (brown)
• Crafting (yellow)
Each player has their own farmyard board and starts with four first generation family members (and more family members with later generations can be obtained doing a Family action). Every turn a player must take a cube from an action space. The player can execute the action or simply just take a cube. Sending members to a certain location will help reduce the time taken to do actions since time is used as the “currency” to do the action or by paying with the colored cubes. You can also send members to locations in order to gain bonuses and prestige points; and if you can get your family member to stay there long enough till the end of the game, that’s just more points for you on the board.
The more time you spend, the more spaces you have to move forward on your life track (on the farmyard board), and every time you pass the bridge, one family member must pass away; then, they will be placed at an empty space in the village chronicle corresponding to the color location of where they passed away; or if there is no room for a certain section on the village chronicle, they must be placed in the anonymous graveyard.
The game continues on with players taking cubes and executing actions for several rounds until either the village chronicle or graveyard is full; then everyone calculates their prestige points based on where the members are still left on the tiered sections of the Council Chamber and Church; customer tile points that were bought at the market; how many player’s own members at the village chronicle; and how many locations were traveled on the travel section. Player with the most prestige points wins.
This is a very solid and thematic game that almost feels like it’s telling you a story about family members laboring in a village and you want as many of your family members to be efficient in their work. However, as life and time passes, certain generations of the family will pass away to later be remembered on the village chronicle. All components go well to depict all the things that the members need to fulfill their actions whether it be at the farm or the locations at the village from bags of grain, scrolls, horses, oxen, wagons, and plows. It’s as if you really get to live out each family member to train them in crafting or traveling. It all goes well hand in hand. For example, in real life, you would need a wagon with some knowledge or skill in order to travel. Thus, you would need to obtain a wagon token and orange (skill) and pink (knowledge) cubes to do a travel action. Or if you need to craft a scroll, you need to spend some time specializing in crafting or spend a pink (knowledge) cube.
Not only is the game very thematic, but it also offers plenty of strategy and more ways than one to earn prestige points. The game flows very well with mechanics and theme, and there is very little luck in the game to affect the gameplay which allows players to have more control on what they do. The only main random element in the game is the seeding of cubes at the beginning of each round and pulling out members of the family from the bag during the end phase for Church mass time (or you can pay a coin to guarantee one of your family members being chosen and drawn out of the bag). In a 2 player game, there is probably less tactics compared to more players since you only have one opponent taking cubes off the board each turn. Whereas with more players, you won’t know which cubes or action spaces will be available by the time it’s your turn again.
Time currency is also valuable in this game and so one must spend it wisely. And the timing and location of the death of a family member is also crucial to the game if you want your family member to make into the village chronicle. The more members you can put there, the more prestige points you will gain at end of game.
The components are great and most of everything is represented as cubes and tokens, and everyone has their own little farmyard board and family members of different generations. The main game board may seem a little busy at first glance, but once you figure out where everything is, it’s not so bad. The artwork is great. The only thing that may be confusing are the colors of the cubes and the colors of the locations. They both have nothing to do with each other when picking up a cube. The rulebook is well written and broken into categories and organized in a way that is easy to refer back to if needed.
When I first heard about the game, I wasn’t sure about the theme. It seemed a little morbid or so having to have your family members die, and I just thought to myself where is the fun in that?
But after watching a run through of the game, everything made a lot of sense and why the game is the way it is.
There are only really two minor negative things I can comment about the game and that is on the color cubes and color locations. They have nothing to do with each other. If you take a green or pink cube, does not mean your going to do a travel (green circle location) or harvest/recruit (pink circle location) action.
What matters, is where you’re taking the cube from. If you pick up a pink cube from the green circle location, you will do a travel action. If you pick up a green cube at the pink circle(s) location, you will do a harvest action or the recruit family member action.
Not only can the colors be confusing, but trying to explain it to a new player can be confusing and overwhelming. Like I said before, this game can seem complex at first just by looking at the game board and explaining rules, but after a few rounds, the game actually plays very well, and while many might think their family members can pass away too quickly by spending time currency, the game can actually go on long enough once everyone can figure out a better way to utilize their time on the time track.
Since the cubes are random each setup time, you can never have the same game twice. This random element is great because you have a choice between which one is more important, doing the action or obtaining the color cube you need; and if you’re lucky, you may be able to obtain the color cube you need and do the action you need as well if the cube is in the action space you need.
There is also an expansion out already (Village Inn) if people want more out of the game, and I think there is also another expansion (Village Port) that is to be released soon. More gameplay and added variety to the game.