The Tao of Gaming

Boardgames and lesser pursuits

We want … Information, about the Village

I spent a fair chunk of time at the recent game convention trying to find a group about to start the Village.  I failed (although I wasn’t trying that hard). But I discovered that two locals had recently acquired a copy and so last night they were both there and I tried a game.

It’s not exactly a worker placement. Perhaps a ‘limited action selection’ is better. Your workers don’t block, but each space has a set number of actions that can be taken each turn. But workers often sit in an area and score points at the end of the game for advancement.

Of course, the twist is that actions spend time. After so much time one of your (oldest) workers must die. Given that the game ends when all the good graves (that score points) or bad ones (that don’t) fill, I was hoping for a clever cut throat game of time management. I suppose I got it, a bit.

The Village is clever, but it’s an intricate cube processing game, nothing more. Time is just one more resource to manage. With a zillion options I decided on the relatively simple “Build resources up early, spend them for points starting at the halfway point.” I had a few other handy-dandy rules.

  1. Pick the best action (hewing to ‘resources early, points late’) and don’t think too much long term.
  2. I don’t have that color? I should probably get some. Pick colors I don’t have when selecting an action.
  3. Quickly rush to get a few younger workers, so that I could advance them slowly. Early on I tossed a few elders at the monastary (since they’d get actionless points each turn) and crafting (so I could get cheaper resources). The town hall would have probably been fine, too, since you can get two free cubes or a free tile (once you get to the 3rd spot). But there are more crafting actions each turn.
  4. Get a plot relatively fast. And horse/ox. (Again, resource efficiency).
  5. Once the midgame hit, start travelling (with an elder) and hit the market hard.
  6. It seems to me that everyone will have to have 3 dead people by the end, and 4 is average, so rushing to get your 5th person in the (good) ground is a pretty decent swing. Really the most interesting decision is how to do that and make sure you don’t have an extra death you can’t afford (although you’ll get 7 extra points for a good death, so a bad death that later costs you six isn’t horrible).

Anyway, it’s fine, but the decisions seemed straightforward. Is the time mechanism enough to keep me from calling it a JASE? I’m not sure. Probably.

Rating –Indifferent Plus, until I decide.

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Written by taogaming

August 7, 2012 at 8:19 pm

Posted in Reviews

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8 Responses

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  1. There are a number of interesting aspects about Village, but its most distinguishing feature is Death Management. With experienced players, there’s often a race to get Granny to croak and grab that last scoring grave. Of course, you need to make sure you still have enough members of the younger generation to be able to carry out actions. I view it as a WP game, since that implies a LIMITED number of spots for each action, not necessarily only one. The fact that action selection also gives you a cube is another innovative aspect.

    It’s not a classical cube processor, since in most cases the conversion isn’t a direct one, but for all intents and purposes it fits that description. I like it, but I suspect it’s a game far more suited for my tastes than for yours.

    huzonfirst

    August 7, 2012 at 9:38 pm

    • Well, apart from the action contention (which it does have) a worker placement game feels constrained by your number of workers (or some other cost per action, like the $$ per placement in Caylus). Agricola, for example, has a brutal race to get your 3rd worker. So it’s not just “one worker per space.”

      Here there are simply X actions per player divided up (ignoring the well). Sometimes you need an available worker to take an action (traveller/monk) or to get a discount (craftsman convert time to goods instead of cubes), but it’s a pretty mild constraint.

      taogaming

      August 8, 2012 at 4:09 pm

  2. You said that when collecting cubes you tended to choose colors you don’t have when selecting actions. I don’t think that’s necessarily best – I would think choosing colors to support your strategy (Green for Council/Market, Pink/Orange for traveling, Brown for heavy-hitting the Church…), and beyond that I think it might be wise to collect the SAME colors in order to make 3 of a kind so you can use the Well.

    I haven’t played the game in a while, and I’m no expert, but that is the comment that struck me as potentially naive. Spreading the colors out sounds like it lacks focus, and what I remember noticing in this game is that you don’t do well if you try to do everything, you have to sort of concentrate on 2 or 3 scoring methods (out of the 5 in the game). Then again, maybe there are enough uses for any given color to support concentrating on 2-3 scoring avenues, in which case your plan could work well!

    Seth Jaffee

    August 8, 2012 at 3:11 am

  3. I agree with Seth. A good thing about The Village is, that it allows to focus on a strategy, where you can actually ignore a building (or two), while in most Euros you have to do everything sooner or later. So spreading colours is not necessary the best option.

    peer

    August 8, 2012 at 5:41 am

    • (A single reply to Seth/Peer)

      I could have phrased it better. In general the color selection is (early on) secondary to the action selection (with the obvious ‘don’t take black without a reason’ exception). But I think the basic idea applies.

      If you are using lots of green (for example), you will tend to be short of green. So you’ll grab it.

      Taking a single action over and over doesn’t earm extra points (you only get the VP for a spot you end the game in, not when you advance. As the rules were explained to me, anyway). To get to 6VP in the civic building requires four advancements over the course of the game.

      The one exception is just pounding money to VP over and over, which also requires getting money as well as advancing City Hall. Travelling does give you VP, but none of these actions really seem that much more efficient than mixing them up. (I doubt someone who pounds $$ via city hall and ignores travelling will do better that someone who does some travelling and advances to the 6VP slot of city hall, but never converts.

      And, as always, points earned later are worth just as much as points earned early. So flexibility early on seems advised.

      Of course none of this applies to the endgame, when I map out my needs much more directly (and often one of those needs will be the well, which does encourage sets of three). But I think that (like Puerto Rico) “focusing on a strategy” means “optimization that isn’t as flexible as the early game”

      taogaming

      August 8, 2012 at 4:22 pm

  4. Early/midgame having cube diversity can be quite useful, as it lets you be flexible in deciding on your path (depending on other people’s actions/cubes that come up). You can almost always find a use for a cube, particularly since several of the paths require cube diversity and let you get other cubes.

    frunk

    August 8, 2012 at 1:34 pm

  5. I think the game is cool because of the death mechanism. Without it, it would be just another cube pusher, but managing the deaths makes it fun.

    There is also a bit of ‘do a strategy that others arent focusing on’, which is also nice. If a strategy dominates, then multiple players compete by focusing on it and it gets weaker.

    Alexfrog

    August 10, 2012 at 2:48 am

    • The time mechanism is weird because death is both a cost and a benefit.

      taogaming

      August 11, 2012 at 9:23 am


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