TableTopTakes: Village Attacks
Some times it is good to be bad. And in Village Attacks, you get to be a horror monster who has been terrorizing the village. So you are the bad guys, but you aren’t terrorizing the village anymore, you’re relaxing for the night. This is a twist on a cooperative game but offers a lot of choices and interesting combos that you can create.
In Village Attacks, the villagers are knocking down the doors to the castle and you, and the group of monsters you’re playing with are just trying to have a nice evening. The villagers have torches and pitchforks and it’s just going to be headache if they get into the heart of the castle. You roll dice to get your actions selected and you’re trying to take out enough villagers and survive the waves of attacks. As you kill those pesky villagers and complete scenario objectives you can get closer to winning the game, but it also powers you up so you can handle the stronger hero villagers who are going to be coming after you. If you can complete the objective of the scenario, you win the game.
Village Attacks is a fun cooperative game because it’s a tower defense game, but it turns it on it’s head. You aren’t these heroic characters fending off tons and tons of monsters, you are the bad guys who are fighting off the villagers who you’ve been terrorizing who are now terrorizing you. While it doesn’t really make much difference in the long run, it is fun to see themes that are twisted and changed up from the normal version of the game. If you were playing the villagers defending against Dracula and his thralls and Renfields, that would make a pretty normal game, but instead you get to be the monster. That isn’t enough to make it a good game on it’s own though.
What helps the game out a ton to start getting it to that good range is that you play scenarios. If it were just a pure tower defense style game it would get predictable, but the scenarios are going to change the game up. In the GenCon scenario from 2019, for example, you are trying to get a bunch of totems into position. So you’re fetching stuff around your castle and bringing them back to a room and placing them in certain spots. While you are doing that, the villagers are pouring into your castle and they are doing two things. They are attacking the heart of the tower, basically the mystical energy that keeps the monsters coming back, so if that hits 0, you lose the game. They are also trying to get into the crypt and destroy the place where you are reborn and if enough of them get there, you lose the game. So not only is it about killing the villagers, who were coming into the castle in three different areas, you’re also worried about keeping them away from the heart and unable to attack and keeping them away from another location. And that’s just one scenario. Some of them might be as easy as defend the heart of the castle, but most are going to have more, and that’s going to change up how you play the game. And while playing a cooperative game that’s challenging and doesn’t have scenarios is fun, Pandemic for example, I think that having the scenarios takes it up a notch.
The other thing is that your monsters level up as you go. I like this because each monster starts out with a unique ability, but then you can add in more as you go and leveling up goes fast. In a scenario, you might not level up fully, but you’re going to feel like you’re getting a lot of upgrades to your character, especially as there are more and more villagers who show up that you need to take care of. And each character has their own unique upgrades. So if you’re playing one with a bone whip versus on who is an archer, your upgrades are going to be different for your character and it’ll allow you tailor how you want to play that character. I like being able to tailor a character to play my way, and it isn’t just a single upgrade path for a hero, though it isn’t as branching as it could be.
As for the mechanics of the game, there is a bunch to track in the game, but for the most part it’s roll dice, select the dice you want to use, deal with the villagers, more villagers show up, and repeat the process. The game play is actually pretty simple with a few things that feel like will take a bit to remember. Mainly how the villagers attack, some of them are going prefer a certain monster as a target but if they are closer to the heart of the castle, they are going to attack that, and just keeping that in order can be tricky. The game designers knew that though and there’s a cheat for that and other things, such as turn order on the back. I like big games where it ends up actually not being that complex and Village Attacks (plus a million expansions) is one that has that feel.
I do want to wrap up a little bit about the theme. This is a dark game, you’re killing “innocent” villagers and the artwork can be monstrous or disturbing, for the characters you’re playing. The game doesn’t pull any punches and suggest that you’re the good guys or misunderstood monsters, you are the bad guys who are still being bad. This theme might be a bit dark for some people, but I think with how the game plays, it doesn’t feel like that. And when I’ve played it, people play it more as the misunderstood monsters or that it’s silly. I think of The Fearless Vampire Killers or a movie like that where the vampire is bad, but the whole thing is kind of absurd.
Overall, I liked this game a lot. Unfortunately it’s hard to get a hold of. Fortunately, at the end of last year, they ran a kickstarter which was success so I can get a copy of the base game. I believe that the pledge manager is opening up soon for that, so it might be possible to late pledge at that point. If you want to play a good tower defense/dungeon defense style of game that’s more than something like Castle Panic and has a unique theme, Village Attacks is amazing for that. The game length can be a bit long and seems to scale longer with a higher player count, but higher player is what some of the people running the demo recommend. And if you get the game, don’t let the bits and pieces intimidate you, the game isn’t that hard when you get into it.
Overall Grade: B+
Gamer Grade: A
Casual Grade: C
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