Village

4 - 5

Number of Players: 2-4

Year of Publication: 2011

Creator(s):  Inka Brand and Marcus Brand (designers), Dennis Lohausen (artist)

It’s a pretty small-town kind of a game…

Ever wanted to go travelling, but just didn’t have the time? Ever wanted to become a friar but you were too female to join a monastery? Well in Village you can fulfill all of those unfulfilled life dreams that you may have had any time in your life. Take control of four generations of one family to make your all dreams come true! (Okay, maybe I’m lying about all your dreams coming true, but it’s still good fun, okay?)

What’s In The Box:

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  1. 44 Family Members in four colours
  2. 32 Markers in four colours
  3. 1 Starting Player Marker
  4. 1 Next Starting Player Marker
  5. 40 Goods Tiles
  6. 24 Customer Tiles
  7. 15 Coins
  8. 20 Bags of Grain
  9. 3 Setup Cards
  10. 1 Mass Overview Card
  11. 4 Farmyards
  12. 72 Influence Cubes (Brown, Pink, Orange, Green)
  13. 6 Plague Cubes (Black)
  14. 1 Green Bag
  15. 1 Black Bag and 4 Black Monks
  16. 2 Rule Books (German and English)
  17. 1 Game Board

Playing The Game:

Objective: To efficiently manage the lifespans of each of your family members so as to gain the maximum number of prestige points.

To start the game each player chooses a family, and is given a farmyard, one gold coin and all of their coloured markers. One marker is placed on the closed book symbol in the top left-hand corner of the board. Each family has four generations of people. To begin the game only the four people marked with a 1 are placed on the farmyard.

Setting Up The Board:

Once you’ve chosen your family and claimed all of the pieces you need to begin you then follow the instructions relevant to the number of players there are. As you can see there is a big book in the bottom right-hand corner of the board. This is call the Village Chronicle, it’s the dream of all the villagers to have their name written in this book when they die. When playing with less than four players there are spaces there, and in the unmarked graves (bottom left-hand corner) which are marked with a 3 or a 4. These spaces have to be filled with a member of an unclaimed family at the start of a two or three-player game. This helps to control how long the play time of the game is.

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Basic starting setup for two players.

At the start of the game the oldest player immediately becomes first play (you can see the red player in this game has the strange marker with the couple on it next to his farm). This player then takes a pre-determined number of the coloured Influence Cubes from the pool at the side of board and puts them, and all the Plague Cubes into the green bag. These are then drawn at random and used to Seed the board. The Setup Card for the number of players indicates how many cubes should be placed on each coloured patch of the board. Each of these patches represents a potential action that you can take on your turn.

The only other thing left to do now is place customer tiles on the indicated number of marker squares on the board. Once this is done you’re ready to play!

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As you can see, Influence Cubes and Plague Cubes have been randomly distributed to the different coloured patches on the board according to the Setup Card and Customer Tiles have been placed in the Market area.

The Rules:

We found that the rulebook for this game is very well written. It’s quite clear what is and isn’t allowed, and there’s very little ambiguity, this makes the game pretty straightforward to play as there’s little opportunity for argument about whether one action is or isn’t allowed.

Taking Your Turn:

This game is quite clever; because each round consists of a few turns for each player – but the actual turn itself is quite short – the game should keep going at a reasonable pace, making the impatient among us much happier as their turn comes round more often. To begin your turn you take an Influence or Plague Cub from the action spot of your choice, the choices are:

  • Grain Harvest – if you have one or more family members on your farmyard you can perform this action. Take an Influence or Plague Cube from the spot with the wagon on it and then immediately take 2 bags of grain from the supply. If you do not have any family members on your farmyard you cannot perform this action.
  • Family – when you perform this action a new family member is born! Take a cube from the patch with all the people standing next to it and then take a new family member from the next generation of your family (if you have all of the 1st generation on your farm or the board somewhere then take one from generation 2 and so on) and put them on your farm. Alternatively, instead of taking a new family member from the supply, you can also use this action to recall a family member  from somewhere on the game board to your farm.
  • Crafts – Take a cube from the yellow patch by the workshops. You can now send a family member to one of the workshops to learn a skill. Each workshop will show on it how much time must be spent to train a family member, and then again how much time must be put in to create. Note: the train cost of time only has to be paid once per family member in a workshop.
  • Market – when a Cube is taken from the blue patch by the market place a market day is immediately triggered. Each player has a chance now to trade at the market. However, only the spaces directly in front of a market stall can be traded with. The player who triggers the market day performs the first trade action and can perform this for free. Every other player who wishes to trade at the market must pay both one time and one green Influence Cube before they can trade.
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As you can see, we have only traded with the customers who were directly in front of the market stalls. No other customers have been served.
  • Travel – The green patch near the gate out of the village indicates travel. You can use this patch to send a family member to other villages. This gains you prestige points and other benefits depending on where you go.
  • Council Chamber – taking a Cube from the red patch by the council building allows you send a family member into the local council. As you train them they gain influence in the council and the benefits you receive from them increase.
  • Church – the brown patch nearest the church allows you send a family member to orders. Once sent this family member goes into the Black Bag with the Monks and is not used again until Mass is said at the end of the round.
A Family Member Dies:

As each action costs you time eventually someone will have to pay. On your farm you will see clouds with sand-timers in them around the edge of the farmyard. Each time you perform an action that requires time you must move your marker the requisite number of spaces. Every time your marker passes the bride at the top of your farm, a family member from your oldest generation has to die. When this happens you may complete the action that you were performing fully before choosing which family member to kill.

Note: with the exception of Market Day. If Market Day is trigger by taking a Plague Cube you must immediately pay the 2 time and if someone dies they must be removed from the board before completing the Market action.

It is beneficial to plan which family members will die as there are a certain number of spaces in the Village Chronicle for each profession. Once these are full no other people who die whilst in this occupation can go there and must be buried in the unmarked graves. This is important because you gain Prestige Points at the end of the game for the number of family members in the Village Chronicle, but you do not gain points for any in the unmarked graves.

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Here you can see family members in both the Village Chronicle and the Unmarked Graves. Orange and Red have here achieved the most strategic deaths so far.

Ending A Round And Saying Mass:

Once the last Influence or Plague Cube has been taken from the board the round ends once that player has completed their action. At this point Mass is said. Four monks are drawn from the Black Bag to say Mass. If any player has a family member in the bag they are allowed to pay one gold coin to have their family member definitely say Mass. If the players do not pay them those saying Mass are drawn randomly. Any coloured Monks drawn from the bag are placed on the first window of the church, and any black Monks are returned to the bag. Players may now move their Monks further up the church hierarchy by paying the indicated number of Bags of Grain back to the supply. Once this is done the player with the highest number of family members in the church is awarded two prestige points. If there’s a tie then the player with the highest ranking family member wins, if there is still a tie then the tied players all receive two Prestige Points.

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Here, Orange has paid the most grain and been made Abbot in exchange. Red is a senior Monk of some sort, and Blue is sadly just a Novice still.

Once Mass is ended the board is re-Seeded and a new round begins.

Ending The Game:

The game ends once either all the spaces in the Village Chronicle or the unmarked graves have been filled.

Winning The Game!

At the end of the game Prestige Points from all the different aspects of your life in the village are added up. The player with the most Prestige Points wins!

Note: The board is clearly marked with which actions will give you more Prestige Points when continued with for longer periods of time.

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Red is victorious! Orange not far behind, and Blue seriously lacking in Prestige…

You can see that the score has been added up by moving each players coloured counter around the track on the edge of the board. Red has won, but not by much!

Strategy:

There are several different strategies that can be adopted for this game. The one I played (I was orange) was to try and have family members in as many different professions as possible, so as to be able to spend a lot of time and have them in the maximum number of available Village Chronicle spaces. I gained a lot of Prestige Points from this. The other aspect of my plan was to try and get reasonably high in the church, as you get points from this, and to have traveled a reasonable amount, for the same reason. I didn’t win the game though, the winning strategy was to build things using the Crafting action and to travel as much as possible. Although this strategy won, it only just won, so it would be worth playing again and seeing if I can alter my strategy a little to make it the winning one!
Both of us playing used the Market action. I had more Market points and I know from a previous time we played this game that if a player is focused enough it is also possible to win using only the Crafting and Market actions. But this requires serious dedication and single-mindedness.

Tactically it is also worth triggering a Market Day when you can trade but you know no-one else can. Even if you only have one thing to trade. You may only get a few points for this action, but no-one else gets any, which gives you a bit of an edge.

History and Interesting Things:

  1. Between 2011 – 2014 this game won 7 awards, and was nominated for 14!
  2. It’s set in a kind of 1700’s era Village.
  3. To be honest, the game was only published in 2011 and doesn’t have much extra-curricular information about it, so I’m going to have to fail at giving any extra points here!
Further Reading and Other Editions of the Game:

This game is still relatively new – only five years old – but it has four expansions:

  1. Village: Customer Expansion (2012)
  2. Village Inn (2013)
  3. Village: Customer Expansion 2 (2014)
  4. Village Port (2014)

In Conclusion:

As you can see, I have actually had very little to write about the history or background info to this game, but having said that, I would recommend the game. It’s not particularly complicated and it’s good for a chilled-out afternoon with family or friends. It’s also great for playing with friends who like board games, but aren’t fanatic enough about them to spend more than about 2 hours playing one. I particularly enjoyed it because you can explore so many different ways to win. Having played the game twice in the last three days I can say that at the moment one of the strongest win-strategies seems to be trying to travel to all six of the other towns.

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