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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Sunday 25 March 2018

The Game Shelf Previews:- Village Pillage

Game: Village Pillage

Publisher: Jellybean Games

Designer: Peter C. Hayward and Tom Lang

Year: 2018

Right now you just have a village but you have aspirations of becoming a kingdom. If you can collect three relics you'll prove that you have the right to rule. It will take cunning and you'll need some help to allow your farmer to grow all of the turnips you'll need. With the right defences and raiders to help keep the other villages at bay, you should come out on top.

Village Pillage is launching on Kickstarter on 26th March 2018 and we've had a chance to try the print and play. Please note that components are not final. We have only tried the game with two players and the 3-5 player game has some different rules. However, we've been pretty happy with the 2-player variant.


To start a game of Village Pillage each player will be handed a set of 4 starting cards, a wall, a farmer, a raider and a merchant. Along with this they will get a village card where they can bank their turnips to be safe from enemies, and store any relics they have collected, they will also be given two turnips, one of which is stored safely in their bank. The market deck is shuffled with 4 cards being placed out ready to be bought and the game begins. In a two player game each player will then select their first 2 cards to play face down. In each turn players will reveal the first of the two cards they have in play, perform the actions and pick that card up. Then they will slide their second card into the 1st card position and play a new card in the 2nd card position.

There are 4 colours of cards in Village Pillage and each has their own focus, green cards are farmers, which generate turnips, the main currency in the game. Yellow cards are merchants, who can spend turnips to buy relics (get 3 relics and you win the game!) or to buy new cards from the market to improve your deck. Red cards are raiders who will steal turnips from your opponents, while blue cards are walls which prevent attacking raiders and let you store your turnips safely in your bank where they cant be stolen. It should be apparent that there is a rock-paper-scissors element in the game, if you use a raider and your opponent uses a farmer then you will steal everything they produced, however if they played a wall then then you would gain nothing while they generated and safely stored a few turnips.

Amy’s Final Thoughts

Village Pillage was a very pleasant surprise for me, the core idea of gameplay seemed too simple at first, farmers beat walls, walls beat raiders, raiders beat farmers and merchants beat no-one but you need to play them to win the game. Where this got interesting was in the planning ahead and the deckbuilding aspects. Since you have two cards in play at any one time you cant perform the same action over and over again. Unless, of course, you have invested in getting a second card of that colour. Not only are the cards you buy from the deck generally better than the ones you start with, but unlocking the ability to perform a non-stop attack or produce endless crops of turnips really changes the strategies available to you, and your opponent. In a three player plus game you actually play a card against each of your neighbours, so you don't have the same planning ahead, but the point still stands, you can only attack one neighbour if you only have 1 raider card!

Village Pillage is all about trying to read your opponent, if you are playing too obviously then you will be thwarted at every turn by an observant opponent. I really appreciated that the game can swing wildly to your favour if you can guess your enemies move for a couple of turns in a row. I have to say that we do not typically enjoy games which have such a focus on aggressively trying to outplay each other, but Village Pillage is so fast paced that it's an exception, even the worse setbacks only take a couple of good turns to put right so it's hard to feel victimized.

Village Pillage is a game that focuses on core fun gameplay, and then added a few extra twists in the on top. Each game will be different due to different cards being available, but fundamentally the cards all function the same way. While some green cards may be better when your opponent plays a wall, and others when your opponent plays a merchant, they all produced turnips that's what green cards do. If you are looking for a new filler card game I really recommend looking at VIllage Pillage when the kickstarter launches.

Fi’s Final Thoughts

Village Pillage is, at its heart, a rock, paper, scissors style game where you simultaneously select and action, reveal and then some cards will annul or affect others and the order in which they trigger will become important. However, the way in which the cards interact is really interesting and well though out. It's typically only the raiders that can be cancelled entirely if the other player correctly times their defensive move. In the two player game, the timing and prediction element is all the more important as you're forced to think two turns ahead, not just about your current turn - you can make a few deductions to help you along the way.

The game would've been solid with just the hand of four cards you start with at the beginning of the game, but in addition, some deck-building has been added so that you can hire extra villagers into your deck, often with slightly more powerful abilities. The key to hiring more people for me is actually in the flexibility it gives you in the two player game, meaning you could play two raiders or two merchants at once, perhaps as a back up plan.

There is always a risk with this style of game that I will get annoyed when I'm being attacked by another player, but in Village Pillage, although the antagonism exists, it seems to exist as part of a quick back and forth that I'm too busy puzzling about to be too concerned when I'm attacked. I'm far more concerned with how I'll get them back or the new opportunities I have as a result.

I'm excited to check out the Kickstarter campaign for Village Pillage and interested to try it with more players in the future. That said, I'd be happy to keep this one as a two-player game - I think the variant is fantastically well done.

The Good
  • The game is quick but with lots of interesting decisions.
  • The two player variant is really well thought out.
  • The game has great artwork with a great sense of humour.
The Bad
  • In multiplayer games you'll only really be playing with the two people on either side of you at the table.
  • The game is about reading people, but you could win the game with a lucky guess.
  • There is a 'take-that' element where you will deprive an opponent of turnips at the moment they were going to buy a relic and some people will find this annoying.
The Verdict
7/10 Village Pillage is a rare thing - a take-that game that we enjoy. With two players you're really challenged to out maneuver your opponent and the deck-building just adds another layer of interesting tactics to the game.

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