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Hate Drafting? The game? A Vampire Village Review

Vampire village isn’t for everyone, and I don’t think it's trying to be. What is does well is offer a condensed galaxy trucker like experience in 20-25 minutes (assuming everyone manages to resolve monsters simultaneously), and with the added twist that you are in some part choosing your own fate, as much as you are determining your neighbours.

Vampire Village from Studio H and distributed here in the UK by Hachette Board Games UK, is a card drafting, tile placement game, in which you have decided to build a village in a land infested with monsters, because where else do you build a village? And over the course of two rounds, you’ll build your village defenses, before the monsters descend on your defenses. And the winner at the end of two rounds will be the individual that has the most points, with each villager you’ve kept in your village at the end of the game worth a point and each monster you’ve kept at bay outside your village walls also worth a point.

Vampire village takes place over two identical rounds, split into two phases. The first phase is village building, and follows a standard draft in that you pick one, play it and pass the hand on. Helpfully, the backs of the cards, show you which way to pass the cards, meaning you don’t forget you’ve passed cards the wrong way in differing rounds like so many other games! (e.g. Ecosystem). Each card is either a village or a hero, with village tiles generally giving you a defense value and an immediate ability to get villagers - usually dependent on number of village tiles in that row or column, or for example dependent on the number of a certain type of village tiles you have. Each village tile has a village type (green, red, blue and army green – also shown by different shapes) which you can combo together to gain more villagers as you add tiles, the generic army green types seem particularly useful as they seem to be more plentiful! (I’ve not counted).

The other tiles are heroes, which generally come with an amount of movement points, you can spend immediately on adjacent villagers to move them away from the looming danger of monsters! And heroes are generally a specialist monster fighter, which can be vital in phase 2 of the round! After you’ve drafted and added 6 tiles to your village, its time for monsters!

The monster phase is split into gaining monsters and then monster attacks! You'll do this in two hands effectively, first drawing three cards, choosing one to keep and one to give to each of your neighbours then revealing the three cards you end up with, after which you repeat the above. Then darkness descends, as the demons attack.. demons generally give you a choice of destroying a village tile/villagers, taking a monster from your neighbour and/or destroying a hero. After demons you set the power for the monsters, with wolves arriving in packs (of two different types) vampires having static values of 1 to 7, and witches coming in a mixture of static values and power equal to the number of witches your neighbour to the left or right has. The monsters keep coming though and that's the key thing! After you check the defence value e.g my 4 to the monsters 8, I lose a building and kill the lowest powered monster (unless I have a hero) and then you recheck. And it's only ever the values on your outer most row/column where the monsters are attacking. So those central defences are no good to you at first..

After two rounds, that's it! Lowest Score I've seen was 3, highest was 30 and I've yet to score more than 12 in the 5 games I've played. Like I said at the beginning, Vampire Village won't be for everyone, and I suspect it might be a bit like marmite, with some loving it's chaos and mayhem and others taking the monster attacks that their neighbours sent their way a little too personally. It is however 20-25 minutes, if everyone plays simultaneously. I've yet to find a group that comfortable all resolving the monsters simultaneously and we've generally done it one at a time meaning that game time eeks up into the 30-40 minute mark.

My biggest complaint isn't the game or game play , but the components, the tiles for a 4 by 4 grid are marginally too big, meaning trying to fit a four player game comfortably on a regular sized table is a bit of a squish! The village tiles could have been a centimetres or two smaller and it would fit on most tables. We've played the game head to head as a two player and the game just fits width ways if we sit across from each other, which is how we normally play!

As you know, I rate games on a

- Buy or play

- Wait for sale or play if you like game XYZ

- Avoid

Vampire Village fits firmly in the Play if you like Munchkin, Boss Monster, Galaxy Trucker style games. Heck if you don't like Galaxy Trucker you might like vampire village because its a condensed experience and you're not sat around for hours watching something you built fall apart. The game can feel somewhat aggressive and I've seen a couple of games where folks got upset because of the monsters they had been given by their neighbours. If that's you, this game probably isn't for you! It's a bit of light hearted silliness all about hate Drafting, as once you've seen your opponents villages you know where their weaknesses are , so of course you're going to give them that power 6 vampire! Ultimately, you could say Vampire Village is a bit like marmite, you'll either love it or hate it. For me this has earned a place in the game night library and I suspect it might go down very well with folks at game night!

Disclaimer: I was sent a copy to review by HachetteBGUK, I also spent the entire UKGE demoing Vampire Village. I was not paid for this review and all thoughts are my own.

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