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Subject: A new age has come upon our village rss

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Mike Spoto
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Omaha
Nebraska
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Wow, time has gotten away from me here. It’s been a year since I’ve had a chance to write a major review. My wife and I have been enjoying our new home, and I now have two closets filled with shelves of often played games upstairs, three huge shelves of older games in the store room, and two more shelves of favorites downstairs in the new game room.

The passage of time fits right in with the theme of today’s new game. Back in 2011, Tasty Minstrel Games published one of my favorite worker placement titles: Village, a game that introduced time as a resource where your workers aged and died off. Today I am going to talk about its successor from Stronghold Games, My Village.




Overview:
My Village is a dice pool selection/manipulation game for 2-4 players where players will be improving their village to earn prestige points. Each player starts with their own village player board that contains development areas to add buildings, the basic buildings the village starts with, and a time track to mark the expenditure of time units.




There is also a central board that contains common buildings useable by all players. All the many buildings you can add to your village are arrayed around this central board as well. These buildings will provide you some benefit when added to your development areas.

Each round, the first player will roll the white and black dice to create this round’s dice pool. On each player’s turn, they will select two dice from the dice pool to create a banner number.

They then use this banner number to either activate a single black banner with a matching number, or to activate any number of white banners in their village with a matching number. Some banners will also require you to spend time units, goods, or coins to activate them.

When you have spent enough time units to cross the bridge on your time track, you must select one of your villagers to die and be buried in the graveyard. You can later activate the school on your player board to train a replacement villager to run that area.

Players continue in this manner until a required number of villagers have died, then the current round is finished and prestige points are scored. The player with the most prestige points wins.

Components:
Stronghold Games has done a great job with the components. The rule book is well written with clear examples and many images. The boards are colorful, with easy to understand icons. The dice are good quality with rounded edges. The cardboard counters are all double-sided and of good weight. The meeples are homey, and fit the theme of the game nicely. The generic resource markers are nice wooden hexagonal cylinders, comparable to those found in Power Grid. The square building cards are of good quality, with nice artwork and of good size. All in all, the components are what you would expect from a top tier game publisher.

Theme:
The theme is similar to the original Village: your villagers will earn their home prestige through their achievements as they grow old and pass away, their service lauded in the village chronicle (or forgotten in an anonymous grave).




Setup:
Each player starts with their own village player board that contains: six development areas (Religious, Council, Harvest, Travel, Crafts, and Market), a school, a money barn, a story tree (where people tell the village chronicler their tales – your story points are kept here), a Main House (to safely store the story points in the village chronicles), and a time track (to mark the passage of time). Place a cardboard grim reaper figure on the bridge and the wooden disk of your color on the space to the right of the bridge.

You start the game with a villager (generic resource marker) on each of the development areas (except for the communal harvest area), a headsman meeple of your player color in your Main House, and some coins (also generic resource markers) in your coin barn (one coin for the first player, two coins for the second, and so on).

The central board is placed in the middle of the play area. It contains: the steward’s office (where customers looking for goods gather – place six customer cards face up beside the steward's office), the graveyard (where workers that have died in service to their village are buried), and the rat track (used to determine when the next rat invasion occurs). All the many buildings you can add to your village are then arrayed around this central board.

Game Play:
Each round, the first player will place a story point on the first player marker (story points are potential prestige points, they become prestige points only if they make it safely to your main house). Then the first player rolls the white and black dice to create this round’s dice pool. On each player’s turn, they will select two dice from the dice pool to create a banner number. They may be able to alter this number by spending coins or using certain buildings in their village.

They then use this banner number to either activate a single black banner with a matching number (usually to purchase a building), or to activate any number of matching white banners in their village with a matching number (to activate buildings in their village). Some banners will also require you to spend time units, goods, or coins as well to activate them. You may only add a building to a development area or activate a banner in a development area if you currently have a villager present in that area. Using black (plague) dice from the dice pool also requires you to spend two time units for each plague die used.

When enough time has passed on your time track to cross the bridge, you must select one of your villagers to die. If this is the first or second villager of this type to pass away, they are honored in the village chronicles (and you earn the displayed number of story points), otherwise they are stuffed into an anonymous numbered grave and quickly forgotten.

Then the rat die is rolled and the rat marker is advanced on its track. When the rat marker reaches the end of its track a rat invasion occurs, all players then loose half the story points on their story tree (rounded down) and the rat is placed back at the start of its track.

Players continue in this manner until a required number of villagers have died, then the current round is finished and prestige points are scored in each of the areas shown on the score sheets. The player with the most prestige points at the game end wins (Tie breaker is the sum of coins, goods, and story points left on the story tee).

Religious Cards
There are two types of religious cards you can add to your village: a church, and monks.

You can add a single church to your village. Each church gives you a different benefit:
• Sanatory Church – Twice per game protects you from a rat invasion.
• Travel Church – When you take a travel card, you may put it on the bottom of the stack and then take and keep the next travel card instead.
• Trading Church – When you activate the Steward’s Office, turn over an additional customer card and add it to the normal six you have to choose from. You then take an additional customer card for free in addition to those you pay for.
• Cloister Church – This church starts with a monk (church window).

Once you have a church in your village, you may then add monks to your church. There are three types (piles) of monks to activate. Each monk gives you a one-time benefit and then adds a church window. You may add monks until you have six windows on your church:
• Gain two story points.
• Spend a time unit and activate the Headsman banner on your player board.
• Activate the school’s banner on your player board once.
• Activate the school’s banner on your player board twice.
• Activate the Steward’s Office banner, but you may only pay for one or two customer cards (you still get your extra if you have the trading church).

The church scores the shown prestige points at game end. The number of windows added to your church also score the prestige points shown on the window track of your player board at game end.

Council Cards
There are two types of council cards you can add to your village: a council chamber, and a meeting place.

You can add a single council chamber to your village. Each council chamber gives you a different benefit:
• Monetary Council – gives you two coins when activated.
• Guild Council – gives you a wild good, may store up to three wild goods.
• Area Council – you place a generic resource marker on one of the five development areas shown on the card when activated. At game end, you receive 1 additional prestige point for every card added to that development area of your village.
• Population Council - you place a generic resource marker on one of the five villager locations shown on the card when activated. At game end, you receive 4 additional prestige points for a living villager of that type.

You can add a single meeting place to your village. Activating the black meeting place banner will let you place a white 2/12 banner beside any white banner of your village, adding those numbers to it. You also get a story point (at your story tree) and you place a generic resource marker on the card. Expending this marker allows you to change the value of one of your dice to any number you wish. Activating the whit meeting place banner does the same thing, except you may only move the 2/12 banner you received earlier to a new location if you wish to do so (you only get a single 2/12 banner). The meeting place can hold up to three generic resource markers and you can use two at once if you have them.

Harvest Cards
There is one type of harvest card you can add to your village: field cards. Field cards produce a coin when their white banner is activated. If you produce a plow, you may place it on one of your fields. That field then produces two coins when activated.




Travel Cards
There are five types (piles) of travel cards you may add to your village: A, B, C, D, and E. You may only add one of each type to your village, and you must add them in that order. Each travel card is worth the one of the prestige point values shown on its back. When activated, you turn the card over and add it to your village. The card shows its actual prestige point value and may have a grey banner. This grey banner shows an additional cost required to activate the black banner of the next level travel card.




Craft Cards
There are five types of craft cards you can add to your village: Stable, Brewery, Smithy, Office, and Wainwright. Each produces one good of its type when activated. You may only add one craft card of each type to your village. Craft cards have room to store up to three goods (generic resource markers) of that type.




Customer Cards
There are many types of customer cards. Each requires you to activate their banner and give them the listed goods to satisfy them. Satisfied customers move to your village, flip the card over to show their house and the number of prestige points they are worth at game end.




Player Board Banners
Your player board has two white banners and one black banner you can activate. The “?” on the black banner means any banner number can activate it. Activating the black banner lets you move the headsman meeple one space on its track (in either direction). Moving to the center space earns you a coin, moving to the last space earns you 3 story points at your story tree, and moving back into your main house gathers all the story points from the story tree and places them safely into the village chronicles in the main house, converting them to end game prestige points.

Activating the 3/11 school banner when the school is empty allows you to add a young villager to the first (left) space of the school track. The next time you activate the school banner, you may then either expend a time unit and move the new villager to an unoccupied development area on your player board, or you may advance that student to the last (right) space of the school track. Then if you activate the school banner again, you can either add another student to the first space of the school track, or spend a time unit, earn two story points, and then move the new villager to an unoccupied development area on your player board.

The last white banner has different numbers on each player board. Activating it earns you one story point at your story tree.




First Player Banner
The first player marker has a black banner on it. Activating it makes you the first player next round. In addition, you get all the story points currently on it.

End Game
The game ends when the required number of villagers have died, then the current round is finished and prestige points are scored. The player with the most prestige points wins.

Scoring
You score any prestige points shown on buildings you have added to your village or any customers you have satisfied. You also score any story points you have taken into your main house. And in addition, you may score points as described for certain cards above. The player with the most prestigious village wins.

High Points:
Many paths to victory, all cards are available to all players at the start of the game. The dice pool mechanism allows you to get several buildings with the same numbers, and then have a good chance to activate them all if you go early in the round, or can manipulate the dice. The many useful buildings offer many possible combos to build upon one another.

Low Points:
Some analysis paralysis will occur for new players who may be overwhelmed by all the choices available. Once you become familiar with the icons and the cards, this should improve.

Final Impressions:
My wife and I both enjoyed this game. It plays exceptionally well as a two player game where each player will take turns picking from the dice pool twice, while the dice pool is reduced in a three player game.

If you are familiar with the original village, you will see that all the same types of options and strategies are present in this spiritual successor. However, the dice pool mechanic and the rat mechanism add some new twists, and speed the game up once you are familiar with it.

If you liked village, or you enjoy dice manipulation and engine building games, then you will probably like My Village as well. It has replaced my copy of Village on my often played games shelf and now sits next to my copy of Roll for the Galaxy.

Game on friends!
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Stephen Buonocore
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Nice review, thanks!


Thanks,
Stephen M. Buonocore
Stronghold Games
 
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Robert Lavarnway
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I like your review format.
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