Welcome to The Game Shelf!

After getting into the board game hobby at the end of 2014, we've decided to share our thoughts on the games we're collecting on our shelves. The collection has certainly expanded over the last few years and we've been making up for lost time!

Sometimes our opinions differ, so Amy will be posting reviews every Tuesday and Fi will post on Thursdays. We hope you enjoy reading some of our opinions on board games - especially those for two players.

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Thursday 1 October 2015

Thoughts from the Yellow Meeple:- Village

Game: Village

Manufacturer: Pegasus Spiele

Designer: Markus and Inca Brand

Year: 2011

Village is a worker placement game, which is supposed to simulate your family’s life in a medieval village where each generation works hard for their life, but when they die it is important that they go down in history in their specialist field (farming, exploring, being a clergyman etc.) by getting their name written into the village chronicle. However if they die as a farmer and there are already too many famous farmers written in the chronicle then they will go to an unmarked grave. Admittedly the theme sounds quite dark for a colourful euro game and we initially entered into this one knowing nothing other than the fact that this game won the Kennerspiel des Jahres in 2012.

The game proceeds in a number of rounds. In each round, coloured cubes are drawn blindly from a bag and assigned to different areas on the board. The number of cubes in each area denotes how many times that action can be performed in that round and the coloured cubes act as one of the forms of currency in the game and allow you to perform certain actions. The actions are; travelling, which earns you victory points for the number of locations you visit in the game; farming for grain, which is a currency which can be converted to gold or traded to increase your rank in the church; family, which allows you to give birth to a new worker or call one back from the board; the council chamber, which earns you victory points and bonus actions when you rise to higher ranks; the church which is similar to the council chamber; the workshops which allow you to build scrolls, ploughs, caravans, horses and oxen; and the market, where you can sell your goods to traders for victory points.

Different game set ups, with a different number of cubes to place at each board location balance the game for two, three or four players. We've tried all player counts and they all work well.
Coloured cubes, grain and gold have been mentioned as currencies in the game, but what makes this game unique is the way that time is also used as a currency. Each player has their own player board, where they store grain, store meeples on their farm, but also train time. Some actions, such as travelling and the workshops use time in order to do them, meaning you advance your time marker. Every time your time marker goes once around your player board (approx. 10 steps) one of your oldest meeple must die. What is key is to ensure that one of your oldest meeple is assigned to one of the locations on the board which still has empty spaces in the village chronicle. Victory points are available for having multiple meeple in the village chronicle and no points are available for meeple in unmarked graves.

Unmarked graves are on the left. The village chronicle is shown on the right - 4 victory points are available if you have 3 meeple in the book, 7 if you have 4 meeple and 12 if you have 5 or more meeple in the book.
This game can be daunting when you are learning it or playing it for the first time. The rule book is long, but gives worked examples for every location on the board which is helpful in the long term, but hard to digest all at once. However, once you have grasped the game, which normally happens about half way into your first game, it is a really interesting one. The resource management is really key, and I’ve noticed in our play-throughs that the timing of a market day (which only occur once per round) is also very key to how many victory points you receive in comparison to your opponents.

Some people we've played with have mentioned that they think there are not sufficient paths to victory, but I’ve seen this game be won by multiple strategies. Heavily backing travelling and heavily backing the market both seem to work well, but you need to be mindful of doing enough in other areas, such as the church and council chamber when the opportunity arises.

There are a lot of worker placement games out there and they can start to feel quite similar. I enjoy Village because the use of time as a resource does seem to make it stand out from the crowd, even though most of its mechanisms are common to many euro games. There is definitely a good mix of strategy and tactical decision making throughout and it can be difficult to know who is winning, so no-one feels dejected and out of the game. It’s not the most exciting game in our collection, but it is one I feel inclined to play frequently and one we’ve just chosen to expand with Village Port.

Village gets a 6.5/10 from the Yellow Meeple.

1 comment:

  1. I've only been playing this game a few days and I do love it! The one critique I have is a bit more thorough introduction for those first few levels. It doesn't address storage problems or where to replenish seeds until the level one gets the newspaper and shop. Otherwise, it simply makes me happy and missing simpler times.
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