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Haakon Gaarder
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Theme: Medieval jobs and crafting
mechanics: card drafting, tableau building, card combos
components: cards and coins
playtime: 45 minutes



The story
You are the founder of a new village during the middle ages. A great plague has struck the major population centers and the roads are full of refugees seeking a new beginning. They come to you, hoping to settle down on your land and make a living. You must choose wisely who you allow to settle with you, as your food and resources are limited. You need people who can help produce more food, and builders to build houses and workshops. But most importantly you need people that can work together and benefit from each others skills to make a good profit. A cobbler is worhtless without a good tanner. A miner is of little help without a local mason or blacksmith. Eating a lamb will fill your belly, spinning it's whool will make you rich. New villages are being founded all over the country now, all competing for talented people. It is a race to become the most wealthy settlement, to secure power as the land rebuilds itself.

The game
In Villagers you draft cards depicting villagers and help them get working in your village by setting up production chains of people turning raw materials into valuable goods and services.




Game end and winning the game
The winner is the player with the richest village at the end of the game. The game ends when all cards have been drafted. Whoever has the most gold, both as coins and as coin values depicted on the cards in his village is the winner.

What you do on your turn
Your turn is divided into 2 phases:

1. Getting villagers working
2. Welcoming new villagers from the road.

Here are some quick and dirty explainers of the basics of the game turn:



UPDATE! Here is an explanation of one of the main mechanics:

Mechanics for playing cards: Inputs
This rule represents how raw materials or refined materials are needed for some goods to be made. This is represented by cards having one or more input requirements on top of the card. The shipwright needs wood to make ships for example, so he has a lumberjack as his input requirement. When the shipwright is played, it must be played on top of a lumberjack.



The lumberjack is one of the basic villagers in the game, and can be obtained reliably in the field area until they run out. They can be put to a variety of uses. Instead of the shipwright, you might consider giving the wood to the carpenter instead, to get an extra build action. Or you might want to go for the Cooper, who synnergizes well with the winemaking and brewing industry(more on that later!).

Some workers can be used to form longer production chains. If you get a wheeler working, you can play a cartwright on top of her to get higher income. As all the wheels are used for the carpenters carts, the wheeler no longer produces any gold on her own. This is nicely represented by the way the cartwright card covers her card.


If you manage to obtain 2 of the same worker type, they can both be placed on the same input card. This only applies to the second level cards, the third and fourth need to both have full production chain beneath them.



The Wine production chain is interesting. The graper is a bottom level card that must be drafted from the road, unlike the standard cards. This makes it harder to get, there are only 2 instead of 8. There is only one card that can be placed on top of the graper, the Vintner. The graper gives you a very useful extra food, but once you dedicate the grapes to wine production by placing a Vintner that food is lost. The Vintner gives you nothing(he tends to drink it all himself!), but is worth it as he allows you to get the lucrative wine seller out later. As you can see, there are some padlocks here mentioning the cooper and the glassblower. This brings us to the next mechanic.. Locks!

Explanation of locks coming soon! This is one of the more interactive parts of the game.

UPDATE! Here is an explanation of the second major mechanic, locks and keys

Mechanics for playing cards: Unlocking locks
While the input mechanic represents the continuous demand of materials for production, the lock mechanic represent how some villagers require a one-time service from a particular craftsman before they can start doing their job. It's usually about getting equipment and tools made. The spinner needs a wheeler to make her spindle, the cobbler needs a blacksmith to make his tools, the brewer needs barrels from a cooper and so on.

If a Villager has a padlock on it's card, the player must pay the villager named next to the padlock 1 coin for the help setting up for business.



Green player plays 2 fishers in his village, paying 1 coin to blue player's shipwright for each. Now that the fishers have boats they'll provide food and income to his village. The key symbol with the number in it is a hint that tells you how many villagers this type can unlock. In this case the shipwright has the number 4 because he can unlock the 2 fishers in the game, and the 2 smugglers. So he can potentially earn you 4 extra gold. Not bad.



Blue player then plays two smugglers, using his own shipwright to unlock. He pays his shipwright 2 gold from the supply.

If you unlock using villagers in your own village, you get to pay them with a gold from the supply instead of your own gold. So this is another way of earning gold.



The blacksmith can unlock 10 different cards, earning you 10 gold! As there are 2 of every card in the game, it's a good idea to try to get both blacksmiths, so that you'll have monopoly on the blacksmith's services.

Coming up next: special villagers! These people have fun special abilities.

UPDATE!

Special Villagers

The red villagers give special actions to the player. They help you in situations where you can't get the specific cards you need in the conventional way. Perhaps the card is hiding at the bottom of a stack, slowing your progress, or maybe another player is holding onto the card just to block you. This is where the red cards come in.



The Mistress allows you to seduce an opponents villager to join yours instead, the Noble lets you relocate a villager from another players hand over to your village, and the Courier allows you to get ahead by taking a villager from the road during another players turn. These cards can also be used to deliberately attack other players if you like, though it's probably a waste of time to do so if you can't use the stolen villagers to further your own economy.



The other red villagers are less aggressive. The Apprentice can learn any trade, he can swap places with any card that is not the top card of a stack. So he let's you steal a card without doing harm, or just kind of duplicate one of your own. The enlightened Monk is a kind of wild, he can act as an input for any card. The crafty Gipsy can open any lock, so she's very handy. She can only be used once though. There are 2 of each of these special villagers in the game.

UPDATE!

I'm the kind of guy who wishes you could win in Agricola with a farm focusing purely on sheep, or win by filling your board with vegetables. Creating a highly specialized farm each time would be much more satisfying for me than just competing to have some kind of ideal diversive farm.

The Silver Villagers

With Villagers I want people to be able to create highly specialized villages, very different yet all competitive. I also noticed in early testing that I wanted an extra layer of strategy to the game, and some extra thematic feel. The solution I came up with is the silver villagers.



These villagers each have some conditional way of earning points at the end of the game. They have huge potential, especially when you get two of the same type. They generally make you benefit from collecting specific types of cards or cards with specific traits. The Timber Floater sells wood downriver and so gives you gold for your lumberjacks. The locksmith makes all the locks, so gets gold for each padlock in your village. No one knows what the freemason does, but he earns gold for each builder. The Tatcher uses leftover straw from the other villagers to build roofs, so he makes gold for all your purple villagers. The food seller makes money from your food. The Agent can help one of your villagers get more customers for their services, and so doubles their coins earned at the end of the game.

By depicting these with silver instead of gold I make them easier to identify as conditional earnings. Another reason for the silver color is to make it clear that their earnings cannot be exploited by the Peddler or Smuggler.



The peddler lets you earn half the gold value of a villager EVERY turn he is in play. Rounded down though, so you better pair him up with a good earner. The Peddler might sound quite overpowered to you, but due to the fact that the game will often not have that many rounds where you have a good card to pair him with, he seems to be doing just fine. If you're very clever though you might find sneaky ways of prolonging the game.

The smuggler is simpler. He doesn't earn half, avoiding taxes lets him earn the whole value of a Villager. He won't stick around though, so you only get to use him once. Pair him up with a Goldsmith to earn a ton of gold.

These two guys act as a counterweight to the very powerful silver cards. While the silver cards reward you for going for quantity of low earners to get extra gold, the Smuggler and Peddler make the high gold cards twice as good.

Finally we have yet another way of earning gold.



The thief lets you steal 2 coins from any opponent every turn she is in play. Typically you'll steal from the player who appears to be leading. But there is a catch! If someone plays a Sherriff before you discard your thief, that someone gets all the cash the thief earned instead. So this is a nice little mini game in it self. This element to the game is a nice opportunity for players to catch up to the leader, by stealing his or her gold. It can also lead to diplomatic play. Having a sherriff in your hand at the start of the game is very cool, as no one knows about it.

Next update will explain a simple card exchanging mechanic in the game.

UPDATE!

The Field
The Field represents how people who lack the resources and network needed to do their trade have to make a living doing simpler tasks like chopping wood, sowing the fields and breaking rocks. They're overqualified for their task, but hopefully some day one of the Villages will find a way to set them up with their true calling.

This is the area to the right of The Road. This area has a simple but important function in the game. When playing cards into your Village, you can also play cards to The Field. For each card played to The Field, you get to take one card from the field to your hand.



In the early turns of the game this will be a way of getting the 3 basic Villagers that most other Villagers must go on top of, but as the game progresses, all kinds of Villagers will end up here, and so you'll have more options. Playing cards to the field uses up your builder resource like when playing cards to your Village.



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Andrew J.
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Re: WIP Villagers, production chain building card game
Subscribed!
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Timothe Lapetite
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Re: WIP Villagers, production chain building card game
Sub'd !

Art is really nice. It woudld taste sweet if it was edible ^^

Regarding Colin comment, I just want to add that you shouldn't rely too much on how it looks on a screen since the printing process tend to darken everything a bit (but lower contrasts too), except pure white, so you should getting better contrasts in the end.

As for what I understand from looking at the cards :
- you have 'building slots', which you can upgrade by putting better cards on top of the previous one (vintner < wine trader)
- you need a specific build order in order to build specifc cards (wine trader require vintner)
- some character are concurrent to others, and as such prevent each other from being built (wine trader locks you out from buidling the glasser ?)
- some perks carry on from an upgrade to another (cooper allowed, green lock ?)
- cooper is some sort of joker that can be built anywhere

Now what is totally confusing to me :
- the keys and their color scheme. Grey, red, blue, nothing seems to match these colors in the cards (also : think color blind people, maybe adopt unique lock/key pairs/designs, keyring for multi-purposes key as I feel there's some sort of all-in-one mechanic )
- the 'you can play this card next' preview, visible on the Vintner card (wine trader (9)), looks like the 7 wonders's free building mechanic, but since it's the only card on your picture which has it, I'm puzzled ^^
- lock system seems obscure, again, only color is very dangerous from an accessibility standpoint. If green 'unlocks' (does it ?), then go for an open lock in addition to the color.

Unless I'm totally wrong, it seems that the design only tells a lot with very few elements, which is a sign of a bunch of simple mechanics working wonders when put together.

Can't wait to see more !!
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Haakon Gaarder
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Re: WIP Villagers, production chain building card game
Thanks for the subscription, and great tip about the printing! I'll be ordering a test print for internal playtesting soon, I'll keep the colors the way they are in that print to check how much they contrast with the pure white background.

You're mostly right about the rules, except the locks and keys A lock signifies a prerequisite card, the brewer needs you or another player to have a cooper, no beer without barrels! The vintner also needs barrels, so a cooper is a prerequisite there as well. If another player builds the cooper, you'll have to pay him 1 gold for each card you want to unlock. If you have a cooper yourself, you earn 1 gold from the bank instead. The coloring of the keys is to give a hint towards what cards are unlocked by that card. The shipwright unlocks a fisher(grey key) and a smuggler(red key). First time players won't be able to know exactly what cards to look for with their unlocks, but they'll know what colors to keep an eye on.

I can see how this can be hard to guess from that one picture
More pictures can be found in this thread: https://boardgamegeek.com/thread/1658145/what-do-you-think-a...
 
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Haakon Gaarder
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Re: VILLAGERS (wip)
I've just updated the OP with a general description of the game. So the forum discussion above this post does not make much sense anymore if you read it. I'll update with more descriptions and pictures of the cool details of the game soon. like card combos, upgrade mechanics, some different viable strategies and more.
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Haakon Gaarder
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Re: VILLAGERS (wip)
Any feedback on your impressions so far would be greatly appreciated
 
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Andrew J.
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Re: VILLAGERS (wip)
Is it possible to get a PNP to test out the game, or is it not at that stage yet?
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Carl Van Ostrand

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Re: VILLAGERS (wip)
Nice art / design and I am a big fan of the theme too. I always have thought about how interesting it must have been in the very early stages of a new town.

I'll definitely be curious to hear more about the interactions, and the player interaction.

One thought, which might be 'jumping the gun' a bit: Is the end-game scenario win/condition as fun as it can be? I recently came across this issue with my latest design - the game is fun, but the ending felt a bit flat because the game ended at X rounds and then it was basically "who has the most gold?"

Ultimately I was feeling a lack of thrill / suspense - so I am now testing other win conditions that I think will work better. It's more of a race to "X" and players also need to meet secondary conditions. That way you care more about what the opposition is doing, and I think it may even play up the overall strategy of how to pace your own "engine."

So anyhow, you might find a totally different experience in your game, but just wanted to note it.
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Haakon Gaarder
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Re: VILLAGERS (wip)
Hi Carl, thanks for chiming in! Yes I need to share more about the game, right now it's just the superficial stuff!

Good point about making an interesting endgame, that is something to think about. I can see how the end of game rule seems a little bland at the moment.
I'm not a fan of end of game conditions though, as they often make me feel the game ended suddenly and anticlimatic, unless I win Nothing worse than sitting around building something that is about to explode on your next turn, then the player going right before you declares: "I win if I do this, and this". I get this problem sometimes when playing Kemet, Roll for The Galaxy and Quantum.

I prefer to have the end time of the game more predictable, with some sort of timer to it. The drama and tension buildup factor can come in other ways, like having all players getting increasingly powerful etc.

In this game I find so far from my solo testing that as the game end draws closer the game does get more and more exiting. Players will get better and better at earning points, so it can be hard to keep up. Also the players hands of cards will get bigger and bigger and when the game end nears you'll realize you might not get enough actions to get all of them out. So it's important to get enough builders as they give you actions, but in the early game it's more tempting to go for food producers instead, to get the good cards.

I'll update soon with some mechanics that people hopefully find interesting. I'm hoping to sanity test them here before playtesting
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Haakon Gaarder
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Re: VILLAGERS (wip)
aaj94 wrote:
Is it possible to get a PNP to test out the game, or is it not at that stage yet?

I'll try to get to that soon, and a pdf rulebook. Not all of the art will be in it, but enough to playtest. It's kind of a big PNP project though, with 136 cards!
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Haakon Gaarder
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Re: VILLAGERS (wip)
First post has been updated with explanation of one of the two main mechanics.
 
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Carl Van Ostrand

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Re: VILLAGERS (wip)
Good points on the end game. Definitely one of those things that can be hard to know which is the best fit for the flow of the game until it's played / tested.

Read the mechanics update. Makes good sense so far.
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Haakon Gaarder
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Re: VILLAGERS (wip)
Roo2 wrote:
Good points on the end game. Definitely one of those things that can be hard to know which is the best fit for the flow of the game until it's played / tested.

Read the mechanics update. Makes good sense so far.

Yeah I'm anxious to see what will come up when I start playtesting with other people, how the game ends might be one of the things people want to change. Looking forward to getting fresh perspectives on it, it's been in my mind a long time. Good to hear the explanation makes sense
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Haakon Gaarder
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Re: VILLAGERS (wip)
OP has been updated with the second major mechanic, the locks and keys!
 
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Haakon Gaarder
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Re: VILLAGERS (wip)
Is it clear to you how it works?
 
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Dave Clarke
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Re: VILLAGERS (wip)
Love what you've done on this so far. Will be watching with interest.
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Haakon Gaarder
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Re: VILLAGERS (wip)
Thank you Dave! Nice talking to you!
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Haakon Gaarder
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Re: VILLAGERS (wip)
OP updated with the special cards Next update will present some cool cards that give you alternate ways of earning gold, allowing you to really specialize your village.
 
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"What do you mean, I can't pay in Meeples?"
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I'd suggest changing the 'mistress' to 'charlatan', and 'gipsy' to 'peddler'. They'd be a better fit with the whole small village vibe and more appropriate for all audiences.

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Haakon Gaarder
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Thank you Fire for joining the discussion

About the Mistress: I thought the name was family friendly enough, but seeing from your reaction I may have to think more about it. Is it possible to have a family friendly name for a woman that steals another womans man? I've thought about calling her Femme Fatale, Seductress, Homewrecker or perhaps Heartbreaker or Beauty. In one night werewolf there is a sort of similar character called the Troublemaker.. What do you people think she should be called?

About the Gipsy: Is gipsy really an offensive word? I've seen it in recent tv shows like Peaky Blinders and Hemlock Grove. I do know that in the Suburbia expansion they changed the Gipsy to Nomad. It's an ok solution, though when I hear nomad I only think of Beduins. The word Peddler is a great suggestion, but I already have that name on a different card depicting a travelling merchant. The thematic idea of this card is the way Gipsies used to travel around in europe doing small jobs, often using some unique skills fixing kettles etc. I also love the whole myth around gipsies having dark magical powers A word I'm considering using for her instead is Tinker. Does anyone else think I should change her name?




 
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Gustavo Herodier
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While I don't think you necessarily need to change them (gipsy and mistress are tame enough imho), I think I like the sound of troublemaker/homewrecker better than Mistress

Gipsy is a bit of an odd one. By and large it's not really a charged word... except for the few places where it is. Sadly, I think they are roughly the same places where you have a large gipsy/traveler population living side by side with non-gypsies, and that leads to frictions which tend to boil down to easily defined labels, and "gipsy" becomes a bad thing shake
Having said that, I think that if the card comes with a picture of a traditional fairy-tale type Gipsy, it'd probably get a pass even in those communities...
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Dave Clarke
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Haakon Gaarder wrote:
Thank you Fire for joining the discussion

About the Mistress: I thought the name was family friendly enough, but seeing from your reaction I may have to think more about it. Is it possible to have a family friendly name for a woman that steals another womans man? I've thought about calling her Femme Fatale, Seductress, Homewrecker or perhaps Heartbreaker or Beauty. In one night werewolf there is a sort of similar character called the Troublemaker.. What do you people think she should be called?

About the Gipsy: Is gipsy really an offensive word? I've seen it in recent tv shows like Peaky Blinders and Hemlock Grove. I do know that in the Suburbia expansion they changed the Gipsy to Nomad. It's an ok solution, though when I hear nomad I only think of Beduins. The word Peddler is a great suggestion, but I already have that name on a different card depicting a travelling merchant. The thematic idea of this card is the way Gipsies used to travel around in europe doing small jobs, often using some unique skills fixing kettles etc. I also love the whole myth around gipsies having dark magical powers A word I'm considering using for her instead is Tinker. Does anyone else think I should change her name?






"Tinker" works better for me, and still fits the theme of the card as you've written it.
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Haakon Gaarder
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Hi Gustavo! Good input. Your thoughts mirror mine about the Gipsy. I'm looking forward to drawing her, I'm planning to make her like a Roka painting, but with a toolbelt and a pipe. So definetly a fairy tale gipsy
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DaveClarke wrote:

"Tinker" works better for me, and still fits the theme of the card as you've written it.

Yes, I like tinker as well.
 
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wilky
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This looks very nice, I will follow with interest. With regards to Gypsy, I think Tinker is a much better name for this card, as Tinker is used mostly in Ireland/UK? Being Irish I grew up with that word so I understand what it means but it doesn't have the negative connotations attached to it like the word gypsy. As for mistress, I find that ok, much better than troublemaker, but i also love the work charlatan.
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