Village is a worker placement game for 2-4 players by Inka and Markus Brand, published by Tasty Minstrel Games set in Medieval Times. Players must raise a family and have them gain renown in the village chronicle. Family members pass away, new members are born, some become friars, where others become traveling minstrels. Players take turns taking resource cubes from an area and then performing the action corresponding to the area. Players use resource cubes and time as a currency to gain points, collect grain, oxen, horses, and more. Play continues until either every village chronicle space is taken, or the anonymous graves are full. Whoever has the most points wins.
What sets Village apart from other worker placements is the ability to use time as a currency. The time marker is represented on your family board, and can often be used instead of resource cubes to gain points or place workers in the various village jobs. Once the time marker crosses the bridge on your board, the oldest family member passes away and is then placed in the Village Chronicle or an anonymous grave. Players can choose to use time in order to make the game go faster if they have a quick strategy. Using time is quite important in the game, because this is how you can get your family members honored in the Village Chronicle and thus get more points.
There are many viable strategies to Village, which is why it has become one of my favorite worker placement games. One can have a family member travel and gain points that way, or become a friar in the church. One can run for public office or work with crafts. Every time I’ve played, it has been a different strategy that has won. This shows just how one must adapt as the game progresses and with the opponents’ choices.
Because of the way the resource cubes are randomly set out on the board each round, players must plan ahead their actions. However, even with this planning, the game never feels too long. The time currency makes for shorter games, as eventually, the village chronicle or graves get filled up. This also helps with the replay value, because each game will be set up differently in where the resource cubes are placed. One may go straight for crafts because of the good resource cubes on it, instead of going to travel which may have plague cubes. Even though the resource cubes will all eventually get taken in a round, one would rather gain good resource cubes first, before they are gone.
The only caveat I have with Village is because the resource cubes are not painted consistently, it has caused issues for colorblind players. Other than that, the artwork is nice, and the iconography is easy to understand. Because of the iconography, the game is not language dependent, which is especially helpful when playing with people from different language backgrounds.
Overall, Village is a refreshing take on worker placements. The time currency makes players think hard about the optimal strategies, but not at the expense of analysis paralysis. The game itself is often played in about an hour, and never feels dull. One can play the game and try different strategies every game. The replay value is great, and the game pace is perfect. Highly recommended!