Villagers is a card game in which you draft and build a tableau of craftsfolk, in a race to earn the most gold. The villagers must work together to provide each other with raw materials, refined goods, food and shelter. Villagers is a card game in a small box that feels like a big box eurogame where you create and build your own economic engine. There are 55 different villager types, giving the game a lot of variety and replayability.
- Number of players: 1-5
- Play time: 15 minutes per player
- Mechanisms: card drafting, tableau building, set collection, engine building, hand management.
- Weight / complexity: medium
- Designer: Haakon Gaarder
- Artist: Haakon Gaarder
- Publisher: Sinister Fish Games
- Release Date: May 2018 (Kickstarter)
- Contents: 131 villager cards, 21 solo mode cards, 107 coins, 2 market cards, 5 player aides, 5 village cards, 1 first player card and 1 rules booklet.
Players draft villagers from The Road to their hand, welcoming them to their village.
Players then place villagers from their hand into their tableau, employing them in their village.
There are two Market phases in the game, triggered as their cards are revealed on the Road. In the Market phases players earn gold based on their villages. The player with the most gold at the end of the game is the winner.
In addition to gold, there are 2 other resources in the game. Every food icon in your village allows you to draft an additional villager in the draft phase. Every builder icon allows you to play an extra villager in the build phase. Players have to strike the right balance between these resources and gold when drafting.
Villagers must be placed in the correct order in their production chains. Longer production chains give you more resources, but also require more actions from you, and better drafting. There can be stiff competition for the most lucrative villagers during the draft phase!
Some villagers need special tools or equipment to start working. They have padlocks on them, and these must be unlocked by paying a villager of the type specified 2 gold. For each 2 gold paid, the player who owns the unlocking villager scores 2 more gold in each market phase! This interaction makes it possible to profit from what other players are doing.
The padlocks are either paid from the bank, your supply or by other players, depending on who owns the unlocking villager. You could profit from unlocking your own, pay other players (when you think it’s worth it!) or rush villagers out before the other players have a chance to unlock, paying the bank instead.
The silver coin icon indicates that these villagers score a conditional amount of gold at the end of the game. They offer many extra scoring strategies, and you can play two of the same kind to double your bonus!
These villagers can make a big difference. Some are like wild cards, helping you create your production chains, while others can create scoring opportunities, or help you in the draft phase.
There are 9 different suits of villagers, each representing an industry based on a particular raw material. In Villagers you can draft both face-up and face-down villagers. The backs of the cards reveal what suit the villagers belong to, so drafting face-down is a semi-informed decision in this game.
The three main suits of the game are Ore, Hay, and Wood. All production chains in these suits start with these basic villagers that are always available. To play a basic villager you must return a villager from your hand to the road (re-educating it), so this will often lead to tough “kill your darlings” decisions.
These villagers use more exotic raw materials, and do not start with basic villagers. Instead they all have to be drafted from the road, making them harder to build. But they also provide greater rewards, which makes them attractive to draft even face-down.
The single villagers provide their own raw materials, so they form their own production chains. This makes them easy and cheap to build. They are weak on their own, but can provide strong strategic options or give you that one resource you need at low cost.