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Village Attacks

Ok, I said last week I wanted to do a full write up of Village Attacks and so here I am. I wanted to give this one a full review since despite ultimately trading it....I think I also recommend it.

Let's start with the pros and then we can go into why I traded it anyway. To start with, the game is beautiful. Minis are gorgeous, artwork on the tiles is incredibly atmospheric and watching the horde of villagers heading towards the Castle Heart is a ton of fun.

Now looks alone aren't nearly enough to keep a game unfortunately, but Village Attacks brings more than just looks to the table. The basic idea of the game is that you and your friends are monsters, and the villagers are trying to storm the castle and destroy the castle heart. Every turn you roll dice to decide your actions, kill villagers, set traps, position yourselves to defend the castle heart. Once the monsters are done, the villagers attack, move and spawn. Their target is always the castle heart, not the monsters, and that's a huge part of the strategy. Dying in this game is fine. The castle heart will take a hit but hopefully you held off the hoard enough to not worry about that. Decisions like that, and many others, do add to the strategy of the game. Plus of course the traps, you can expend your dice to set traps in the rooms that will be triggered by the villagers entering the room...and then things go boom.

Ultimately I played Village Attacks 8 times before deciding it wasn't for me. And I don't mean 8 plays across a year, I mean within a 2 month period I kept playing and resetting. It's not often I play a game 8 times in 2 months and then trade it away....so what happened?

Ultimately Village Attacks ended up being a game I wanted to love, much more than I actually love it. It is good, but my collection already has a significant number of mini heavy dice chuckers, and while the miniatures here are unique and incredible...I need to want to play it. So where are the cons? Why am I trading it?

One reason is that with the exception of the very first training mission....I never felt fear. I always had the board well in control. To the point that I reread the rulebook to ensure I wasn't missing something, and even added the Troll and day/night dice, as well as mixing up starting characters in case I had just chosen powerful ones. Ultimately no matter what I did, it still just didn't feel like it was difficult to win. Sure, the castle heart takes a hit here or there but the game was always under control. Now if you've read my B-Sieged write up, you'll realize that balancing doesn't bother me if you can tweak your way past it, and a game that's too easy could be solved by just adding another mini every time they spawn. So while difficulty is a reason, it's not the main one.

I think my main reason came down to the player agency/theme. In most games of this genre, you choose your actions and possibly role dice to determine the success of those actions. In Village Attacks you roll dice to determine your actions but they automatically succeed. In one way it allows for greater strategic choice on your turn, as your actions are guaranteed once you role....but for myself, in a mini heavy game, it's an incredible break in immersion to have your actions dictated to you rather than the reverse. I don't mind at all if my attack fails to hit....but how in the hell do I not get to choose to attack? I'm fine with a more euro style of play in mini games, but I want to choose my actions.

I had a few other minor complaints but the above are the main reasons. The map, while cool looking, often didn't have much in the way of actual pathways to choose. It was large without being nuanced. The village heroes weren't all that interesting...occasionally some were fun but again, none inspired fear. "Oh, I can't leave this Village Hero's location? I'll just attack him with all closeby monsters until he's dead". That ability to kill all heroes, made them lack tension. Contrast that with Zombicide and drawing an Abomination when you don't even have the tools to kill it....I prefer having to run away. There's an element of helplessness that I appreciate, and it makes the killing all the sweeter. Finally, many of the game design choices were tedious. Clipping on bases to villagers as they're pulled, flipping a coin for every decision....these things took away from the game.

Ultimately I really enjoyed my time with Village Attacks and based on the reviews it has I might be alone in many of these complaints. So I do recommend giving it a shot if you like any of the pros of the game...for myself and my collection the competition is stiff. I hope to give it another shot with the new expansions one day, and perhaps my opinion will change. Have you played it? What do you think?


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