December Game of the Month – Villagers & Villains

The Game of the Month series highlights one of the many games in our libraries at Ravenwood Castle and the Malted Meeple. We will briefly describe the game, how to play it, and why we like it.

December’s Game of the Month is Villagers & Villains, by our friends at Studio 9 Games. It combines simple mechanics with satisfying strategy and plays in under an hour. With over 100 unique cards, each and every game of Villagers & Villains is sure to be a unique experience!

In Villagers & Villains each player is a mayor of a fantasy frontier town. But in the untamed wilds, villains and other terrors lurk. You must develop your town by recruiting citizens, building buildings for your growing town, and recruiting heroes to help defend your town against the nefarious villains who would seek to destroy all you have built. Will your town survive and thrive as a major metropolis or will only desolate ruins bear witness to your efforts?

The goal of Villagers & Villains is to build the most successful town by accumulating more victory points than any of the other rival mayors. Players are each given one Deputy Mayor Card and one Angry Mob Card. These form the player’s starting hand.  Each player is also given six gold coins. Next, the deck of unique cards is shuffled to form a single deck and placed within easy reach of the players. Six cards from the top of the deck are revealed and form the Recruitment Pool.  There are four types of cards in the deck: Building Cards, Citizen Cards, Challenge Cards, and Hero Cards.  The card furthest from the deck begins the line and is in the first position. After the starting player is determined, players are ready to begin the first round.

Each round is divided into six phases. During the Recruit Phase each player, in turn order, will declare which card they wish to recruit then roll the die. Before the die-roll the player has the option to purchase additional rolls for one gold piece each.  If the player’s roll is equal to or higher than the card’s position in the recruitment pool, the player earns the card.  If he fails to obtain the card then he must take the card in the first position even if he does not wish to. Some cards such as Hero Cards are beneficial to the player, while Challenge Cards are always detrimental. Next, each player will attempt to defend against any of the Challenge Cards by rolling a die and comparing the results. Sometimes defeating a Challenge Card will grant a bonus. During the Pillage Phase, the player will lose gold per each Challenge Card remaining in his town. Each player now begins the Earning Phase and gains gold for Citizen Cards he has hired on previous turns. Then the players begin the Build/Hire Phase where they can spend gold to hire a new citizen or hero or build a new building and add it to their tableau. Finally, during the Reset Phase, all non-Challenge Cards are discarded from the Recruitment Pool, all Challenge Cards are shifted down to the lowest possible position, and cards are added from the deck to bring the recruitment pool back to six.

Villagers & Villains is at its heart a euro style tableau building game with a fun fantasy theme. The art style is humorous, and family friendly. Many of the cards including the villains are tongue in cheek, light hearted, and fun. In the game, you must do your best to manage the chaos of the ever-changing cards in the recruitment pool. There is strategy required, but the luck of the die roll keeps the game interesting even for younger players. The 100 unique cards the game contains helps Villagers & Villains from growing stale. And if that’s not enough variety, the game also has two expansions: Villagers & Villains: The Borderlands and Villagers & Villains: City Builder!

The next time you visit Ravenwood Castle or the Malted Meeple be sure to check out Villagers & Villains from our friends at Studio 9 Games!

Jim Reed

Jim Reed is a lifelong gamer who started with the original red box Dungeons & Dragons. After spending 20 years in the corporate world, he decided it was high time that work be fun and struck out on his own. Jim now owns and operates Ravenwood Castle, and spends his days ensuring his guests have as much fun as he does.