A preview by
What is Villagers
Have you ever played a PC game by the name of ‘Settlers’? If so then Villagers will feel very familiar to you. You and your fellow players are the founders of new villages set in the middle ages after the great plague. The roads are teeming with refugees looking for a new home. You need to tempt the best of them to join your village, allowing it to grow and prosper. Choose wisely because food and resources are limited. New residents may allow you to access new or improved skills but they also need supplying by other people from the roads. Choose well and build the most prosperous new village before your opponents do the same.
What is in my Box?
The copy of Villagers I received was a preview copy and as such components and quality were not finalised. In saying that, The standard of the preview copy was very high indeed. Inside the very stylish but understated box there was
- Numerous coins in denomination of 1,5,10 and 20.
- Basic Villager cards,
- Founders cards,
- Player aids,
- Travelling Villagers.
The art on show was gorgeous in its simplicity. Illustrated by the artist Haakon Gaarder. The illustrations for each villager were easy to recognise with all icons and titles clear and easy to recognise.
How does it work?
Each round players take turns to draft new villagers based on their food supply. As each villager is claimed, they are replaced on the road by another from the reserve stacks. Players will then allocate villagers for building based on their available building slots. This can be followed by an income phase. After the second income phase the game ends and the player with the most money is the winner.
On the surface of it Villagers is a very simple game. BUT (yes it is a big but) there is a depth that is belied by the simple exterior. To start with players can only draft two new villager cards. You can only start to gain more by producing more food. However it is no good drafting more villagers if you cannot do anything with them. So you decide to try to draft villagers with extra building capacity. Some villagers allow you to place others onto them gaining more money, food or building capacity. Wait what is this? Some of the villagers have padlocks on them this means you will need to unlock them. This may cost or earn you 2 coins. If you have the right villager in your tableau you can earn the coins from the bank. If an opponent has the required villager you will be paying them. You can also unlock by paying to the central bank. There are also ‘special’ villagers which allow you to bend or break various rules.
Choosing when to go for more building capacity or drafting more villagers is critical and different every game. Using ‘Special’ villagers at the right time could swing things in your favour. You will be constantly surprised how much thought you put into each villager draft and subsequently each building option. In fact the amount of thought required for what is essentially a card game is surprising.
Who is it for?
Villagers is a game for everyone. That is something I do not say often or lightly. Children as young as 9 or 10 can play the game without any major issue making Villagers suitable for family play. While its suitability for meet-up groups is an easy recommend with the 5 player count and it having a shortish playtime. I can also recommend Villagers for regular game groups as the amount of thinking and subtle depth mean that it is a great shorter game to start or finish off a game night.
I first received my preview copy of Villagers about a week prior to its Kickstarter launch. I did intend to try to have a preview ready for the launch, but following my customary 3-5 minimum play I wanted to be certain of how I felt about the game. I do not mean in a negative way but more an intangible desire to play again repeatedly. After more than 10 plays at 2,3 and 4 player (I did not have the solo variant available at time of testing) I could still not find a ‘one way to play’ You do not reveal all the cards each game meaning Sinister Fish have avoided the single strategy way to play. A definite recommend.