A New Look at “The Village” from Inka and Markus Brand with illustrations by Dennis Lohausen.
A 2-4 Player Game for 12 year olds and over by Inka & Markus Brand Published by Pegasus Spiele & Eggertspiele
1 main board
4 village boards
12 standard dice
70 black markers
4 time markers
4 grim reapers
4 day laborer tiles
4 “2/12”-value tiles
58 story point markers
1 starting player hand
1 scoring note pad
MY VILLAGE is NOT an expansion of The Village, though it is designed by the same authors and published by the same games company, Pegasus Spiele. It also sports very similar front cover and interior artwork, so much so that mistaking it for an expansion is far easier than thinking of it as a free-standing 2-4 player (aged 12+) board game.
As in The Village there is the graveyard where the hereditary Chronicles are kept. This is the place where the “famous” originators of the village are buried, and of course where players can gain additional bonus victory points as their characters are killed off during the course of the game, so just like The Village it often pays to kill off some of one’s own characters early on; thoughtful culling of your people is well rewarded.
The game has the look and the feel of The Village but the gameplay and mechanic are so far removed had the artwork been different most games players would never have connected the two, at least not without noting the authors’ names. MY VILLAGE is more of a card game that utilises a central board as a means to an end.
All players have their own Village board (handed out randomly as there are one or two minor differences between each board) which shows the Main House, Money Barn, Story Tree and School. It is against the edges of these boards that collected cards are laid, thus even though the boards themselves are not particularly large, each player will need a fair amount of table space because collected cards are laid outwards from the edges which grows the Village exponentially.
The Central board houses the graveyard, the Black Market and the Rat Infestation track. As in The Village Time equals Money, so every action costs you time and as time goes by so villagers die. The Time track is similar to the original game with the Time pieces starting one space beyond the bridge and a character dying once a full circle of the track has been completed and the Time piece has again crossed the bridge. For effect each player has a stand-up card “Grim Reaper” that stands by the bridge and is placed on the Time piece as a reminder that it has completed its journey.
MY VILLAGE is a resource gathering and using game where the players need to make decisions on every turn. There are always more options available than you can do, which in our minds almost always makes for a good challenging game that asks the players to look for different tactics and strategies every time they play it. These playing ideas are also liable to change as players are unlikely to have the same personal Village board each game.
The card collections are colour coded and placed in a specified order around the main central board so that they are visible to all players. It is essential that all players can see what is available, though in most cases players get to select the card they want from those remaining rather than having to draw randomly. All of the cards are self explanatory though you may need to check their descriptions the first few times you play, just to be on the safe side.
The game begins with a Story Point (aka VP) being placed on the palm side of the Start Player “Hand” token. Then the start player rolls all of the dice and selects from them just two, the value of which determines the Card Banner they will activate. If they select two White dice there is no additional time lost, but if they select one or two Black dice then each of these costs them 2 Time on the Time track. Obviously as the dice are taken and used they are removed from the Dice Pool thus giving the next player less choice, though there are always enough White dice available so the Black need not be chosen. Of course this also means that the player going last (usually) has no actual options if they do not wish to lose Time. The Start player remains the same for each turn until someone claims it by taking the SP Hand as their turn. They thus lose out on any actions for the round but do get to go first the next time. As a reward they are also given any Story Points that are on the Hand (remember one is placed at the beginning of each turn). For commonsense and fairness the start player does NOT have the option of taking the Hand.
In general we have found that you can plan your actions while you are waiting for your turn. This is because you can usually work out what the preceding players are liable to do and thus which dice will be left for you. Naturally there is always, at least once in every game, a player who does something completely off kilter that throws out your plans, but that’s just another fun occurrence that makes this such a good game.
The cards interact well; for examples: Churches benefit Monks abilities and Crafts (Stables, Brewery, Smithy, Office, and Wainwright) being used to activate other options and actions. The Black Market utilises the universal markers which also count for coinage and as general markers on your personal Village board (remember to not have a cat jump on the table and knock things flying as it can cause confusion remembering which universal markers we where – we have banned our cats from the games room after one such incident).
Also, unlike the first games in this series, all areas are accessible more easily to all players. We found that at least one, maybe two, sections of "The Village", even with the expansions, were not adequately valuable enough to waste time and effort on - the Journey being the major culprit in our opinion. Therefore our overall impression is that MY VILLAGE is intrinsically the better of the two games, even taking into consideration the expansions for “The Village” – The “Inn” and the “Port”. Having said that I will happily play either, MY VILLAGE is simply our preferred game.