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Pre-Release Predictions: Village

Jesse Dean
United States
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Pound for pound, the amoeba is the most vicious predator on Earth!
Village, by Inka and Markus Brand, is one of eggertspiele’s releases for 2011. I found it’s description to be interesting enough, as the pool of games that are focused on the lifespan of individuals are limited, and there is a lot of interesting things you can do with that as both MIL (1049) and In the Shadow of the Emperor show. I have not played any of the Brand's precious releases and the one I am most familiar with, A Castle For All Seasons, did not look interesting enough to try out. Designers have surprised me before, however, and I was hoping that this would be an example of that. Unfortunately, that does not appear to be the case and there is little to the Village that recommends it.

At its heart, Village is a simple action drafting game. There are a number of locations in the village you can use to generate resources or to convert these resources into victory points. A lot of actions you take will cost you time, and all of them force you to take an influence or plague cube, which can be spent or, in the case of the plague cube, push you farther along on the time track. If you pass a certain point on the time track one of your family members dies and you must place them into the “village chronicle” based on their current location. If there is no appropriate spot in the chronicle they instead go into an anonymous grave, with the game ending once the “village chronicle” is filled. This management of the flow of workers into and out of the game could potentially add an interesting twist on worker placement, as most games simply add workers rather than also subtracting them. Unfortunately, the rest of this game looks so straightforward and boring that I can’t imagine that managing the tempo of this worker flow could make playing the game entertaining.

To give you more of an idea of the things you do in this game, I am going to go over each of the available actions briefly:
1) Grain harvest. This allows you to harvest grain. You can get more grain if you have a plow and something to pull it.
2) Family. This action lets you bring a new family member into the game or return an available family member from its current location.
3) Crafts. Lets you get goods by either paying for them with time for locations where you have a worker in the building or lets you purchase it with a combination of influence cubes or with bags of grain depending on the good.
4) Market. Lets you fulfill market contracts with goods and bags of grain. Each player gets to do this, but further players must spend influence and time. Completed contracts provide victory points at the end of the game.
5) Travel. Lets you move a worker between nearby cities using influence, wagons, and time. You place a token at each city. The number of different cities you visit determines how many victory points you get at the end of the game.
6) Council Chamber. Move family members up the stages, getting bonuses for each stage and spending influence and time. You get a bonus for each stage you hit.
7) Church. Add a family member to the “black bag” which increases their odds of getting placed in the church. You get victory points at the end of the round after four workers are drawn from the bag if you have a majority in the church.

That is it. There are a few subtleties I did not mention, but none of them moves the game beyond that utter blandness. I am sure there is a market for a game like this out there, otherwise eggertespiele would probably not bother making it, but I see nothing in this game that would ever make me interested in playing it. This isn’t even a case like Belfort where I suspect that the interactions in the game itself might push it beyond the uninspiring mechanics. The interactions in this one are so minimal and uninteresting that I can’t in good conscious recommend it to anyone who is likely to follow this blog. Go play Agricola, Le Havre, Dominant Species or any of the other action drafting games out there that have a modicum of tension or interesting decisions. If you want a newer action drafting game then check out MIL (1049) or Vanuatu. Do not play this.
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