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 21 June 2018

Thoughts from the Yellow Meeple:- Village Attacks

Game: Village Attacks

Publisher: Grimlord Games

Designer: Adam Smith

Year: 2018

Village Attacks was a successful Kickstarter for Grimlord Games back in April 2017. It's very soon shipping to backers and we're excited to have taken an early look at the game! The campaign was a great success for a second Kickstarter project, but we are typically not drawn into games with lots of miniatures and stretch goals. I'm sure Amy would love to back lots of these projects, but miniature games are one of my least favourite board game genres. With that in mind, let's see how I felt about our games of Village Attacks.

Village Attacks is a cooperative, miniatures game for 1-5 players in which the players take on the roles of some classic fantasy monsters, defending the castle heart for incoming hoards of villagers. In various scenarios you will have different victory conditions, ranging from survival, to being killing machines, or mastering the use of traps to catch the villagers.

In Village Attacks, each player takes a character sheet for a typical monster character, such as a Succubus or Vampire. For each game you setup a different map with a selection of rooms and spawn points. In each round you’ll begin by spawning villagers at the different spawn points. Villagers vary in number based on your level and also in type, with standard peasants, hunters who have ranged attack and a preference for attacking certain monsters, and heroes who have special abilities and multiple hit points.

After spawning villagers, each player takes a turn to roll 6 dice and complete actions based on the results. One dice face causes villager movement, whilst the others allow the player to make melee attacks, ranged attacks, trigger special abilities or defend or retaliate. Any dice can also be spent for movement around the board. Typically you’re trying to kill off the villagers in order to meet the specific objective of the scenario.

One of the great things about Village Attacks is the different scenarios included in the rulebook. The first 4 to 5 scenarios are a tutorial, slowly adding more and more rules to the game and adding more complexity. Once you’ve played these, the scenarios offer different challenges, testing your ability to use traps or to pick up and deliver objects around the board. This variety adds quite a puzzly nature to the game. It was good for us to play through the tutorial, but I would suggest that when teaching a new player, the earlier scenarios might be too boring and you should just jump in. It’s a cooperative game so you can definitely teach on the go.

After the tutorials, there are a further 10 unique scenarios in the rulebook. These not only give different maps, but also very different objectives for each game. You could also select a certain scenario based on game length – we’ve found that the timings in the book are extremely accurate. I like how each scenario forces you to think differently and perhaps select different characters. You’ll need to cooperate well and focus on each character’s specialism to have a chance in some of the more difficult scenarios.

Unlike some miniature games, the game is quite predictable, with the same spawn points each turn and predictable villager movement, so you can plan well for future turns and prepare yourself with defense or retaliation, or send the right people to take on the right tasks on the map and avoid hunters of their specific colours. There is always some luck in the game, and perhaps you won’t roll what you need, but I really appreciate the luck mitigation for the dice rolling. If you ever roll three or more of a single face, you can always re-roll, so you’re not stuck with a huge pile of dice that cause villager movement and you should always get something you can use.

There is certainly a lot of variety in the base game box and scenarios are definitely replayable, even by the same people with the same characters. There was plenty of expansion content in the Kickstarter too, and hopefully some will come to retail, for players like me who sometimes feel they are finished when they’ve played all the scenarios in the book. The six characters in the base game can also provide variability – their powers vary a lot, especially once they start to level up. It can seem like some are more powerful than others, although this isn’t too concerning for me in a cooperative game. The levelling up certainly helps to keep the game changing throughout each scenario and is a definite must as the game starts to get overwhelming as you spawn more villagers.

Miniature games are often not my thing, but overall I've been impressed by Village Attacks. It has enough tactical decisions and relies heavily on cooperative communication. A few scenarios were a little bit long and repetitive for me, especially those where the end felt like a forgone conclusion, but there were also some games where we pulled off a huge turnaround. Village Attacks probably won't make it into my favourite games any time soon, but I'd recommend that fans of cooperative games and scenario driven campaigns do take a look at the game. For me personally, it's a 7/10.

Village Attacks was a pre-production review copy kindly provided to us by Grimlord Games.

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