Villagers is a card drafting and tableau building game set after a plague which has displaced villagers and workers from their settlements. As the founder of a new burgeoning village you must choose which new villagers to take in and which to leave on the road. You will need to manage your resources to ensure you have enough food to be able to take on more villagers and create a balance amongst the workers as some villagers work best with others.
The game is played over two phases, the drafting phase and the building phase. During the drafting phase you must draft villagers from the road, taking from the face up cards or choosing to gamble on the face down piles above the road. Each villager belongs to a ‘suit’ which is depicted on the back of their cards, so you know roughly which type of occupation you might get, but not the exact villager!
Once all players have taken their allocated villagers, between 2 – 5 depending on how much food you have, you take your new villagers in hand and move on to the build phase! Again you will be able to build between 2 – 5 villagers depending on the number of build symbols are present already in your village.
Many villagers require you to have either a basic villager (hayer, miner or lumberjack) or another villager of a similar occupation which can create a chain effect for that occupation. In the example below the Founder is required before the Swineherd can be played, followed by the Truffler to end the chain. Some villagers require another villager of a completely different occupation to ‘unlock’ them, below, the Truffler requires a Hunter to unlock it.
Once you have completed the building phase you will need to check if a market scoring phase has been activated. This happens twice during the game, the first is usually triggered after a few rounds and gives you a midway boost of gold for the gold printed on the cards currently in your village. The second market phase means the end of the game! You will receive gold once more as well as scoring all silver objectives. The player with the most gold is the winner!
|Player Count||1 – 5 players|
|Play Time||30 – 60 mins|
|Weight||2.23 / 5|
|Publisher||Sinister Fish Games|
Disclaimer: This game was provided by the publisher, but my reviews are always 100% honest and all photos and opinions are my own!
GAME PLAY 7/10
Villagers is a quick game with a simple set of mechanics. The building phase can require a little forethought to ensure you build things in the optimum order but otherwise there is not too much to think about or cause analysis paralysis!
There’s always different strategies you can follow, focusing on certain occupations or spreading your village out more but I’ve found that if you can get plenty of gold in time for the first market scoring phase, then this usually puts you in good stead for the rest of the game.
It’s a satisfying feeling when you hit your chains for maximum efficiency but it can be frustrating from time to time as not all the villager cards will come out during a game. This means you do need a little more luck than I usually like in this kind of game, as it’s not just a case of unfortunate timing or others ‘stealing’ the cards you need, they just may never come out!
And stealing cards is definitely a strategy you can use in this game! If you know a neighbouring village REALLY needs a certain card that you can’t even play, you can take it and never play it, simply to block them. There are a few ‘special’ cards which can have effects that allow you to replace cards or take cards from another players village which can help balance this though.
AESTHETICS & COMPONENTS 9/10
There is no denying that Villagers is a visually striking game! The artwork is very clean and colourful which personally, I love. The cards and tokens are of a high quality and the upgraded wooden coin chest (shown below) definitely ups the ante a little, although this comes at an additional cost.
The box is quite a unique shape and has great inner trays for storing the cards and comes with thick cardboard dividers to organise all the cards, which is wonderful and they even tell you on the back of each divider, exactly which cards should go in which section!
I don’t sleeve my cards but I think there would be enough room in the box for sleeved cards, yet it still feels nice and compact even with the coin chest which can fit in the main box too! You can see my unboxing video here.
RULES & TEACHING 8/10
Villagers has a great rulebook, it’s clear and concise with lovely graphics and diagrams. Plus there is a Watch it Played video, what more could you want?!
The most complicated part of teaching this game is the chains and unlocks, but these are really well depicted on all cards and the game comes with great player aids and a round summary on the back of the rulebook for quick reference. Little things like that just make me very happy when teaching games to new players!
REPLAYABILITY & VALUE 7/10
Being quick to set up thanks to the organisers and fast to play, Villagers is one of those games that’s never daunting to get to the table. It has a varied player count from solo to five players, with a 4-5 player game bringing in some new villagers to add a little variation.
There is also a Kickstarter expansion pack which is available to buy separately and adds some new modules to the game for further variation. I haven’t tried these yet but I can see us adding them into our next game as it already feels like we’re ready for a bit more.
Villagers retails at £20 which I think is pretty great value. The coin chest can be bought separately for £15 which I think was a good move rather than increasing the cost of the base game by making the wooden coins standard. The Kickstarter expansion pack is £7 and comes with some wooden tokens including this lovely upgraded first player marker shown below, which would have been nice to have included in the base game in my opinion.
OVERALL SCORE 31/40 = 7.75
… you enjoy card drafting and tableau building games
… you’re looking for a fast playing and simple card game