Today we're going to review Village Port, the second expansion for the Kennerspiel des Jahres-winning board game Village, published by Tasty Minstrel Games. Let's take a look.
If you missed my (Firestone) recent review of the base game, you can read it here. In this review I'm only going to go over the new and different things with the expansion.
There are actually two expansions included in Village Port. The first is a small one called Life Goals. You can use them with any combination of the base game, Village Inn expansion, or Village Port. (I have Village Inn, but haven't played it yet. But I really like that you can play with any and all combinations of the base and expansion pieces to create a unique experience.)
There are silver and gold Life Goal cards, and first you separate them into the two colors, and then you might need to remove some depending on which combination of game you're playing. Then randomly deal out one silver and one gold card to each player.
They don't change the game in any way; they're just additional ways to score. At any point in the game, if you meet or exceed the requirements on either of the cards, you turn it over and gain those VPs. You don't replace the card.
The silver cards require you to have gathered certain pieces to score 5 VPs--though you don't have to give those pieces up when you score. The Aristocrat needs 7 coins. The Writer needs three scrolls, and a green, brown, pink and orange cube. And so forth.
The gold cards require more difficult things in order to score 8 VPs. The Acolyte needs at least one of your family members of the fourth generation to be in the church. The Merchant needs you to have served at least six customers in the Market.
These are hardly necessary but a good, different way to score points.
The other, more-substantial expansion is the Village Port one. This is an overlay that goes over the Travel section of the base game board. Now when you choose the Travel action, you can do one of three things:
- Set sail from the port.
- Continue sailing once you're at sea,
- Return to port.
When you first set sail you have to hire a captain. The more expensive the captain, the easier it is to move that ship once its on the journey.
Then you can load your ship. Each ship can hold three items, but they have to be different items. You can even send a family member on a journey to be a missionary.
When you move the ship, the first space is free and additional spaces cost resources. Additionally, many of the water spaces also cost time to move onto and through.
When you enter an island space you can sell and pick up goods. Islands pay for goods, and you get more VPs than the customers from the base game pay, because it "costs" you more to get that good out to the islands. Additionally, if you have a family member on the ship, you can place that member on an island with a church to become a missionary--and then gain the VPs shown.
If you return to port, you can immediately move there from any ocean space, and then unload any goods you collected. Now when there's a Market day, there are additional market stalls that pay for the goods you can only get on islands.
There are additional "buried at sea" spaces that fill up when family members die while traveling and the travel section of the Chronicle is full. Filling those spaces is now a third way the end-game is triggered.
There are games I always play with the expansion. King of Tokyo, for instance, really benefits from the Power Up expansion. Twilight Imperium Shattered Empire makes a great game even better. And I can't remember the last time I played Knizia's co-op Lord of the Rings without the Friends and Foes expansion.
Village Port isn't a "necessary" expansion. It doesn't fix any problems or make the whole game better. But it's still a very good expansion. My main concern with the base game was that Travel didn't seem a viable path to victory. Village Port certainly changes that, increasing the usefulness of that section and adding a pick-up-and-deliver aspect.
I've played the base game without Village Port, and didn't feel that anything was missing. (I just ignored traveling.) And I've played with it and admired the way it really changes the importance of spots. Perhaps because it was new, but Travel was used a lot in our first games with this expansion. I'm not sure if that will always be the case, or if it will settle down. I did notice that it dramatically decreased how many customers we served in the Market. There were a couple of customers who were in their spots the entire game.
I appreciate the planning and risk-taking involved with traveling now, and the increased rewards when the planning and risks pay off.
And the Life Goal cards are nice extra ways to score. They're hidden but situational. So in a game such as Suburbia you might have a hidden goal that gives you VPs if you have the most lakes, but someone else might be building lots of lakes--not to keep you from your goal but because it's how she's playing. Well, she's still cost you those points, even unintentionally. That's annoying. But these are based on the situation at a given time, so if you have the goods or have the family member in the church, you get the points. No one can really keep you from doing it, but it's still hidden and can help you determine a direction for your game.
Overall, this is an expansion I'm fine sometimes adding to the base game and I'm fine sometimes leaving out. But I still definitely recommend it because what it does add is good and interesting, and it's a way to add variety to the game.
Thanks for reading!
Theology of Games would like to thank Tasty Minstrel Games for providing a review copy of Village Port. This in no way affected Firestone's opinion of the game.