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Card Game Review: ‘Villages’

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Villages from Fridgecrisis Games is a card-shedding game with a solid core mechanic and a great medieval fantasy motif. The eight-bit-style card art is eye-catching and draws in the player to a fast-paced, simple, yet crafty, game. Designer Jaron Frost launched a Kickstarter campaign on January 5 with the latest version, which is streamlined and polished.

villages

The primary mechanic behind Villages is similar to the shedding game Rummy. Each player is dealt a hand of eight cards with a color and a type. The main way to shed cards is by building “villages” of three or more cards of the same color. Once a village is established, players may add additional cards of the same color to it, even if it is a village of another player. Special Gray cards come in the form of livestock (chickens, sheep, and pigs) or buildings (towers, inns, and castles), each with their own powers though they have requirements for laying.

Aside from Gray, the deck comes with eight nine-character suits of various colors. The decks are slightly different, giving veteran players an understanding of what strategies might be best to play. The yellow cards focus on high coin-values, the orange and reds are primarily about attack, and the other decks have their own powers in magic or heroism. Players may attack one another to steal cards with high point values.

The overall goal of Villages is to collect 100 points. As soon as a player runs out of cards in his or her hand, the round is over, and the points are counted up using the gold coin markers on each card. Cards still in the hand and ones that have been killed in battle or otherwise sent to the “graveyard” count against the score, making it possible to have a negative score. Going out first gives 10 extra points, which makes adding cards to the villages of other players potentially a mutually beneficial move maximizing two players’ points.

There is a great deal of thinking on one’s feet involved to determine the best strategy, but much of the action depends on the initial draw, making the game based quite a bit in luck. One suggested house-rule we found is taking out certain colored suits of cards to fit the number of players, otherwise someone with a rainbow-style hand could go out at the end of the first round.

Villages is a game for two to five players, ages eight and up. Frost already has several specialty decks prepared including Distant Lands with exotic strategies, Ghost Town with creatures that go bump in the night, and a Holiday pack. With a solid mechanic of shedding, and plenty of small tweaks to the rules on each card, Villages is a fun game with plenty of room to grow.

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About Jeff Provine

Jeff Provine is a Composition professor, novelist, cartoonist, and traveler of three continents. His latest book is a collection of local ghost legends, Campus Ghosts of Norman, Oklahoma.
  • Rachel Frost

    The newest version of Villages, the one currently on KickStarter, only has 6 colors instead of 8 to help prevent “rainbow hands” and promote more battling.

    I’m a big fan of the artwork and the complex strategies that come out with different groups of friends. The ace/wizard, dragon/knight, and king/princess dynamics are particularly fun for me, while cards like the hero and goblin help keep someone from running away with too many points, so it’s more fair.