One game that I've been hearing about for a while now is Village.
In Village you're doing..... something... in order to gain the most victory points. Specifically, you are trying to make your family rich and famous and whatnot. In order to do this, each round will consist of various resources (cubes) being placed on the board. Then, players alternate taking turns by selecting a cube from the board and following the corresponding action. The actions can include collecting food, traveling, joining the monastery, getting married, becoming a village politician, selling at market, or performing a trade. Some of these activities take a while to master - and this is indicated through each player's "time" track. And, whenever a player makes a full loop around their time track, one of their oldest family members passes away and is either honored in the book of elders, or is buried in an unmarked grave (because there is only so much ink in this village - so once they write a couple of names down, they have to be very selective). Each round is completed whenever all of the cubes have been taken - at which point a Mass is performed, and the player with the most monks in the monastery gains some victory points. Then, the board is re-seeded with cubes and a new round begins. Play continues in this manner until either the book of ancestors is completely filled, or until all of the unmarked graves are filled. At that point, there is one final Mass, and then players check to see who has had the most successful family (by comparing what really matters to the people of Ye Olde Village - victory points).
|Those who have gone before - the book of ancestors|
The next pro that I have for Village is that I like the distribution of the resource cubes on the board. These resources are not evenly spread - some actions will have drastically more cubes than others (the Market action only gets one cube per round). And, the round doesn't end until all of the cubes are gone. This provides a nice dynamic which forces you to either take advantage of a lot of different actions, or have an opportunity cost of taking a cube without performing an associated. It also forces you to prioritize your actions as some of them may not be available later in the round. So, the best players in the game will learn to gain at least a few points from actions that don't necessarily fit well within their overall strategy - or at the very least, they will take advantage of these extraneous actions to position some of their workers in different areas of the board in order to kill them and have them added to the corresponding section of the book of elders.
Along the same lines as the previous pro, I also appreciate that the distribution of "resource" cubes doesn't only contain resources - it also has plagues. So, sometimes you have to make the decision between performing the action that you want, while advancing twice on your time track, or performing a different action and gaining a resource. Where this becomes even more interesting is through an action that I didn't mention before - you can always trade in three matching resources in order to perform any action. Which means that when there is a plague as the only resource available for an action you want, you can decide to spend three of your resources to avoid that cube. Or, in another situation, if there are only plague cubes remaining, you can also decide it is worth your resources to circumvent the plagues (and even select an action that doesn't have a cube associated with it).
|Sending meeples to Mass|
The second con is this - the theme. Or, perhaps I should say, "Theme? What theme?" I honestly had to look up what the theme of the game was before starting to write this review (after having played the game multiple times). And, after looking in the rules, I'm still not sure what it is. I think it is just that there are people in a village doing stuff, and they want to do it well. The last sentence of the "Game Idea" section is, "Those that worked hard during their lifetime may find themselves immortalized in the village chronicle and thus increase their families' fame." Yeah; so I guess you're trying to become a famous family. Anyway, this didn't bother me especially much, as I enjoy a strong theme, but it's not a requirement for me to enjoy a game. However, I can see where this would be a drawback to a lot of other people.
Overall, I give Village an 8.5/10. I enjoyed my plays of it, and will probably keep playing it on an occasional basis - which, when you consider the number of new games I keep learning, is a pretty good feat!
If Village sounds interesting, you might also check out Kingdom of Solomon, In the Year of the Dragon, and Lords of Waterdeep.
I would like to thank Tasty Minstrel Games for providing me with a review copy of Village.