Village is a game that embeds you, in a deep and emotionally moving way, into one of our most basic and time-honoured traditions: arranging differently coloured cubes onto action spaces. More importantly, it is also a game that reminds me strongly of one of my favourite films, Kind Hearts and Coronets. This is because the best way to win Village is to kill off as many of your family members as possible as quickly as you can. Lets take a look at some of the most efficient ways of doing this…
Horses and cows
“I don’t know what happened officer. One minute they were just standing there and the next they went berserk and trampled him.”
Village is a game that I would describe more as a tactics game than a strategy game – it is much more about thinking through the next few moves than about trying to build a resource engine. One small way in which you can build your economy is by getting an animal and a plough, which will increase the efficiency of your grain harvesting. This makes it well worth doing at the start of the game, and as an added bonus it allows you to spend a lot of time.
Time is a “resource” in Village that can be spent to take certain actions, often instead of spending the coloured cubes (which can be useful in other ways). Whenever you pass a multiple of ten in the amount of time you have spent, a family member dies. If you read they rules they will have you believe that spending time is a bad thing – they are wrong. When a family member dies, they go to a space in the “Village Chronicle” corresponding to their current occupation, assuming there is any space left. At the end of the game you will score a large number of points for having 3 or more dead family members in the Village Chronicle. It is therefore very important to kill off your family faster than your opponents in order to get a good number of spaces in the Village Chronicle.
Raising a horse or an ox allows you to spend a massive six time, getting you more than half way to killing off a family member right away. This makes it a great first move. Be sure to kill off the family member who just produced the animal as soon as possible though, as three of the six time is used to train the family member, and if you leave him around you won’t be able to spend more time training someone else later. The “craft” spaces in the chronicle also tend to go pretty fast.
In addition to the normal coloured cubes, there are also black “plague cubes” that get placed on the action spaces. When you take a plague cube you have to spend two extra time and don’t get to keep a cube. As a result, most players avoid them like, well, the plague. This is a mistake. While the coloured cubes are useful and you should generally take them in preference to plague cubes, the value of a cube isn’t sufficient to make it worth taking a different action from the one you wanted. If you get faced with a choice between a good action with a plague cube or a bad action with a normal cube, probably take a plague cube. They can also be useful tactically on occasion, for those times when you just need to spend an extra one or two time to kill someone off before an opponent and take the last space in one of the chronicle categories.
Travelling is rather underpowered and not really worth doing. However, it can of course be worth sending a family member one space on the travel track so that you can kill them off and send their body to the “travel” area of the Village Chronicle. I guess this possibly reflects the attitudes of village residents to “foreign places”.
I would say the same about the church – the points for church majority aren’t really worth fighting for, and are only worth taking opportunistically if no-one else has bothered. It is however a great place to send people to die, or for a few extra points on the last couple of turns.
Finally, don’t forget about the well, where you can spend three cubes of the same colour to take any action. This can be a useful spot – don’t aim to use it too much, but also don’t forget about its existence.
As the well is a wild action, I thought it might also be a good place to throw in one other point that I couldn’t think of a good title for. This is that, as always, you should try to get in some family growth early. Not only do you need to get new family members into play so that you can kill them, but you also need to keep enough living people around to take actions with. It is important to do the growth early so that you can start sending second or third generation family members, who may well live to the end of the game, into places like the church or town hall where you will score points for them.
Oh, and one last thing – the market, which I haven’t mentioned yet, is the main points scoring mechanism and probably the most important thing in the game. But you can figure out how that works for yourself.