Let's say it's early in a 2P game (first 3-4 rounds). I'm well aware of and subscribe to the farm>tool>meeple village hierarchy. However, if a great card is available in the 1 spot, it seems like that's usually the best option, especially in a 2er when you can still grab a village space with your next move if you're the start player.
So, my question is: How good and how cheap does a card have to be for you to forgo a village space early in the game?
depends on the round. Assuming round 1 (so no one has any resources) I can't go more than the 2 resource card. The 2 resource card has to be very good too - because I may have to burn my only 2 pieces of clay to get it - if I roll awful dice and get an 11 on my 4 dice.
As the game progresses, even if a tool or farm is still valuable (say turn 3 or 4) I don't feel bad passing for a good card (a x2 multiplier with a mystery resource die roll, or the 2 free stone, if I can get 1 free piece of gold for 1 wood resource - that's a win too)
I totally agree. Cards are massively important in the end game. Multipliers x2 x3 need to be snapped up and the items for dice card has to be worth it. The chances of picking up either a tool or plus 1 on the food track are very much in your favour (maybe not so much in a two player game). Not only do you get one of those but you get a culture symbol too.
My first play of Stone Age was another person's game and they said the Village was most important, so that was where we went first (3 player) until later in the game. I recently purchased Stone Age and absolutely agree that a good civ card in the 1 or 2 resource spot is better. I believe it would need to be a multiplier or perhaps gain a field. In several games I found out the 'hard way' that you should always look at the civ cards before making a play in the village.