Villagers a fine new card drafting game

There are literally hundreds if not thousands of card games out there with dozens of core mechanics.

Readers will know we, as a group, lean heavily toward deck-builders.

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A less explored mechanic is card drafting.

My personal first experience would have been in Magic: the Gathering events where players would each open a new pack, pick a card, then pass to the right around a circle of players, adding a card from whatever is passed your way.

It was a fun way to play what is still one of my top-five card games of all time.

More recently we picked up Seven Wonders. It is a great card drafter, perhaps the best of the genre.

So when Villagers arrived the talk at the table was how it had the same general ‘feel’ as Seven Wonders.

That is a heady comparison and while Villagers might not quite attain that level, it is still a very interesting offering.

The game was designed by Haakon Gaarder, who also provides the card art.

The art is rather minimalistic in its design, which will please some, and leave others wanting more. For me it reminded a lot of the style seen in Tokaido, where it felt like it worked better based on the game’s Japanese theme.

From publisher Sinister Fish Games, Villagers is, as noted, is a game of card drafting, which are in turn used to build a village. The game setting is somewhere much like medieval Europe.

From the game’s rule set; you are a village founder and you’ll invite people from all walks of life to live and work in your expanding community. If you can recruit the right people to form lucrative production chains while balancing your food production and building capacity, your village will become the most prosperous and you’ll win the game,

The description notes; “You are the founder of a new village during the middle ages, in the years after a great plague. The loss of so many people has created big problems for the survivors. Many of the people the villagers used to depend on for essential things like food, shelter and clothes are gone. Craftsmen find themselves without suppliers of raw materials, traders have lost their customers and many have lost their farms and workshops as they escaped the plague.

“The roads are full of refugees seeking a new beginning. They come to you, hoping to settle down on your land and make a living. Your grain farm is the ideal starting point for a village, reliably providing food for many people. You must choose wisely who you allow to settle with you, as your food and resources are limited.

“The people on the road have valuable and unique skills, but they all in turn rely on other people with very specific crafts to be able to work. Raw materials, tools and services must be provided by other people from the road.

“If you manage to find people that can work together to make a profit, while increasing your food surplus and capacity for building new houses, your village will be prosperous.”In terms of theme it is a solid one.

The game players up to five, and in solo mode, a lone village must prosper against the machinations of the very ill-tempered Countess.

There are lots of options in this one. You can try a few different approaches in terms of village building toward earning gold, which is a good thing.

The game didn’t engage me as much as the aforementioned Seven Wonders, although my son was a much bigger fan of Villagers, maybe because he won game one.

Villagers wouldn’t be a game I normally turn to from the collection but I certainly wouldn’t balk if it was on the table to play. This one rates as a solid game although not one that exactly ‘Wow’ed’ me.

Check it out at www.sinisterfish.com

Thanks to fellow gamers Trevor Lyons and Adam Daniels for their help in running through this game for review

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