This game was our big Gen Con purchase this year. This year I participated in the Trade Day program for educators, which included getting in to the dealer hall an hour early on Thursday. This meant I could be one of the people who got to snatch up the new releases early. Leading up to Gen Con my wife and I looked into several of the new releases and watched all of the preview videos, etc we could. Of the new releases we initially got our list down to Smash Up, Seasons, and this game. Obviously, Village is the game we went with. We watched a review video of it and liked what we saw. I also wanted to get this game, with hopes that it would be a replacement for Agricola. A little of a month later, we finally got to play the game. So what did we think?
In this game players control a family over several generations, and earn points for things these families do within the life of the village. In each round players get several turns. At the beginning of the rounds, the board is seeded with goods cubes and plague cubes. On a player's turn they will take one of the good cubes and then they may perform the action associated with the space the cube came from.
There are a wide variety of actions available. There are basic actions such as get grain (a basic resource) or get more family members (workers). Other action spaces allow players to turn good cubes or time in for finished goods (wagons, plows,etc), pay goods to travel to far off cities, sell finished goods for points, or complete for prestige in the church or town hall.
Again, a player can only take the action if they take the good cube. Once all of the good/plague cubes are taken there is an end round step where players see who advances in the church hierarchy and gets points for ecclesiastical influence. New cubes are seeded on the board, and the game continues with a new round.
One of the resources spent in the game to do things is time. Players track their time and whenever it reaches a certain point, one of their family members dies from old age. It must always be a member of the oldest generation. When a family member dies they can be recorded in the village's chronicle. Each portion of the board has a corresponding section in the chronicle. So for example, if I choose a family member who I had previously sent to travel the world then I would put him in the travel section of the chronicle. These sections are limited and when a person dies and the section is full, that worker is placed in the graveyard. When the chronicle or graveyard is full, the game ends.
At the end of the games players get points for their current location in the church or village hall. They also get points for cities in the world visited, family members in the chronicle, and goods sold. The player with the most points wins.
The Game We Played
My wife began by collecting grain and putting people into the church bag. Early on, I focused on sending a traveler out into the world. I spent more time than my wife, and had to kill people first. This was kind of by design because I wanted to make sure my workers made it into the chronicle. This worked because I did get more workers recorded.
Midway through the game, my wife started branching out into other areas of the board. This allowed me to get the grain I needed and I got the majority influence in the church for a couple of rounds, which allowed me to make up some point ground. We both sold a few things at the market, but my wife did a better job at this and got a couple more points.
To get another person in the chronicle, my wife recalled one of her workers to her farm. on her next turn, she spent time which caused this worker to die. That filled up the chronicle and ended the game. My wife got a couple more points in the village hall, but I scored more points from traveling and from the chronicle. I also scored more points from workers in the church. This gave me a final score of 60 to her 57.
My Rating: 4 (like it)
My Thoughts: I really liked this game. I enjoyed the mechanisms of killing off workers, as well as the tying of resources and action selection together. Both of these things made for really interesting and deep decisions. The theme of this game (a family in a village over generations) is very abstract, so the abstraction of the mechanics does not really detract from the theme like it does in some euro games.
Her Rating: 3.5 (it's OK)
Her Thoughts: I like the challenge this game presents. There are so many choices and it can be difficult to figure out the best one each turn. Many things in the game work together well. This is not a game that I could play over and over again, but it is a game I want to play some more. I suspect my opinion of the game will go up the more I play it.
Combined Rating: 7.5
This game fell short of initially being one of our favorite games, but it does succeed in being our Agricola replacement. The game offers a wide variety of choices and tense decisions, but it does not have the overwhelming and oppressive tension of having to feed workers.