Hanging with The Village People--A Double-Take Review of Villages of Valeria

We're excited to bring our review of Villages of Valeria today. Villages of Valeria is a card-based game in which players become Dukes and/or Duchesses and attempt to build the best village near their castle in the land of Valeria. You'll work hard to build buildings and attract village people (also known as Adventurers...). So is it fun to stay at the YMCA? Or are you better off to go west? Did anyone get that last Village People reference? Let's find out!

The Components

Villages of Valeria is comprised mostly of cards. The most common cards are Building cards, Building cards have two possible uses: 1) as a resource (you flip the card upside-down and place it under your castle), 2) as a building (each building requires specific resources to build). There's also a set of Adventurer cards, one Castle card for each player, player aids, and an Action Selection card. Non-card components include 30 Gold tokens, and one super awesome Castle token used by the active player for action selection.


The Gameplay

On a player's turn they snag the super awesome castle token and place it on the action selection card to indicate which action they will be performing. Each player then gets the option to follow that action but with a diminished advantage. Let's take a look at those actions:

  • Harvest - Draw 3 Building cards. (Followers draw 1.)
  • Develop - Discard 1 card to turn another card in your hand into a permanent resource. (Followers discard 2 cards.)
  • Build - Use your resources to place a Building card into your village, and then draw a card. (Followers don't draw the additional card.)
  • Recruit - Pay 1 Gold to entice an Adventurer into your Village--if you have the correct types of buildings in your Village. (Followers pay 2Gold.)
  • Tax - Add 1 gold to your reserve from the main reserve, and draw a card. (Followers just draw the card.)

The game plays until one player has a specific number of cards in his/her village (including Buildings and Adventurers). You get VPs for Buildings and Adventurers, as well as each gold coin you have. Highest score wins! 

The Verdict

Firestone--If this sounds somewhat like Race for the Galaxy or Glory to Rome, that's because it is. BUT it's a stripped down version of those games. And it brings in new mechanisms with the Adventurer cards. The bottom line is that I wouldn't even think about playing Race or Glory with my 8-year-old, but I played Villages with him and he did great. 

But don't think this is just a "junior" version of those games. I played this with my game group, and they all liked it, too. One of them texted me the next day asking for the name of the game because he was looking into getting it. There's definitely enough here for gamers, too. 

Jeremiah--Yeah, stripped down doesn't mean kiddie version here. Sure the mechanics are familiar, but there are enough wrinkles in it that keep it fun and it's super approachable for casual gamers and families too.

Firestone--The artwork is excellent, with every Building and Adventurer having a unique and colorful painting. Some of the iconography can be a little confusing with nongamers, but they pick it up quickly. 

Jeremiah--Yeah, and I'm in love with that super awesome castle token!! It's fantastic! The game as a whole is really well made although the insert is pretty standard "meh" for me...

Firestone's Final Verdict--I had zero expectations about Villages of Valeria, but I've had a great time playing! It's light enough to introduce nongamers to engine-building, but enough decisions and interesting bits to keep gamers happy. Check out the village, people!

Jeremiah's Final Verdict--I'm a big fan of engine building games, and Villages of Valeria is a nice scratch for that itch! My family enjoys it, as well as my gamer friends--it's a great addition to the collection!

Theology of Games would like to thank Daily Magic Games for providing review copies of Villages of Valeria. This in no way affected our opinions of the game. 

Thanks for reading!