Village by Tasty Minstrel Games
2-4 Players ages 12 and up
I don't know if I would call this a worker placement game. Like worker placement games you do place workers to earn points throughout gameplay and at the end. Some actions, however, are carried out without placing workers on the board. On your turn you will take an influence cube or plague cube from an action space. This may enable you to perform the action without placing a worker. You may also choose to keep the cube but not perform the action. Another difference is that when you do place a worker, it does not return to you at the end of the round. It will stay where it is until it dies or is specifically called back using a family action. In addition, your workers die, and their deaths are part of how points are determined.
The workers in this game are several generations of a family. Let's take a look at the game board to get an idea of where your family will be working.
How to Earn Prestige Throughout the Game
At the end of each round, the player with the majority of meeples attending mass at the church (G) will earn 2 prestige points. (We have had players earn 10 points on this alone.)
At game end, you will earn the points at the top of the stained glass windows. The higher each meeple is in the church hierarchy, the more points awarded at the end of the game. In this picture yellow gets 4 prestige and blue gets 2. If blue had 4 meeples in that same window, he would get points for each meeple, a total of 8.
As a craft (C) action, you can sell your grain and keep the coins (at the mill), which will then count as one prestige point each at the end of the game.
F. Council Chamber
After your worker makes it to the 4th stage of the council chamber (F), you can buy 3 prestige points with one coin as a council chamber action. At game end, you will earn the points at the top of each stage of the council chamber for the workers still in this position.
In this example, yellow gets 6 prestige at game end and blue gets 2.
D. Market Day
You can earn points by providing goods or grain to customers during the market day (D) action in each round. You then keep the customer tile and it is added to your score at the end of the game.
In this example, I provided a customer with a horse for 4 points, another customer a bag of grain and a scroll for 3 points and so on. These customer tiles remain facedown in my player area until the points are added to my prestige at the end of the game.
You immediately move up 3 prestige points for visiting a neighboring village in your travels (E). The coins and cubes obtained at other villages can also assist you with other actions in the round. You also receive points at the end of the game depending on how many villages you visited in total. As you can see here, travel to all 6 villages and receive 18 prestige at the end of the game.
How Death Occurs and How it Earns You Prestige
Various actions will cost you either influence cubes or time or both influence cubes and time. When you spend time you move your marker around the time track on your farm board. This causes your family members to age, and when the marker passes the bridge, one of them dies.
You then place one of your oldest family members in their resting place, either in the chronicle (which will give you prestige points at the end of the game)
For example, the player with 5 family members in the village chronicle receives 12 points.
or in a common grave (which will not give you prestige points at the end of the game).
Timing deaths is an important part of the strategy.
Game end is signaled when all spaces in the village chronicle or the common graves are filled.
The game scales very well, as there are a different number of cubes available for the different number of players and these cubes determine how many actions are played.
When we first played the game I liked how the theme seemed true to life. All of the ways to earn prestige, the actions costing time, and someone beating you to it. I also recall saying that is was a relaxing game. I didn't feel like I was under a lot of pressure. Now in some games I have found myself holding my breath in anticipation.
It really seems well balanced. You can repeatedly try different strategies. We have had games end where points in several areas depend on who has a family member die first. There are games where we have had to play defense, simply taking cubes from certain areas to keep the other player from performing the action there, or even from obtaining that cube for action elsewhere. One action can impact points scored in several different areas, for both yourself and your opponents.
In the last game we played I had to weigh out several factors, knowing that if I took a travel action the required time would cause me to lose church majority from the death that would occur. I would also lose my chance to use the coin earned by that action, and I would be left with a family member on my farm that didn't earn me any points. I could have used my cubes to call back a family member and give myself more time to put another in the church bag... there were so many factors to consider. There are always many factors to consider. I don't see this game getting stale.
When I am not playing the game I am thinking about it. When we finish a game we want to play another. This is the most amazing game out of all of the games I have played this year. Don't miss this one.
We have only gotten to play this one once so far, but it has definatally got me wanting to play again soon. I lost by a very narrow margin and it really had me thinking about some different things to try next time.