Village Attacks (2017) Review
Quietly installed in your sinister castle, you make the most of your days off with your friends. You chose this place to settle because there is no one around. The city and its groups of adventurers thirsting for demonic blood, you were a little fed up with. The announcement of the agency was not wrong. Here, it's calm. No flocks to eat, no young maiden to bewitch, no villagers to terrorize, no warriors who come to wreak havoc, no long speeches or boring prayers ... In short, a well-deserved retirement for you and your confreres. Well, that was before. Yes, because it is well known, if you do not go to religion, religion will go to you. An itinerant priest who heard about your presence in the county managed to blind the crowds in the surrounding villages. So much so that for reasons that belong only to them, they all got pissed off and began to recruit adventurers eager for glory and blood.
All this happy little world is headed upside down to your home. The torches are lit and raised very high. At the sound of the pitchforks, the slogan is simple: "We do not want any guy like you here, cromme de diou!”, “The monsters in the others! "... and then in the middle of course you have "Vade Retro Satanas!". You understand, the atmosphere is slightly darkened. And it is not the fire that extends from your stables in the distance that will reassure you. No need to deceive yourself, considering your species, it will be difficult to convince them that you come in peace. There is only one thing left to do, to defend yourself, even to diminish the neighborhood.
Village Attacks puts you in the shoes of often likened to the evil supernatural creatures, a bit like a Dungeon Lords or a Dungeon Keeper (for the older ones). Here, even if you have the appearance of a villain, it is ultimately you who are attacked by masses of peasants without fear and without scruples accompanied by fanatical adventurers.
Village Attacks is the second game published by the publisher Grimlord Games (Endure the Stars), following the success of a Kickstarter. The author Adam Smith had fun to reverse the traditional roles without upsetting things.
Village Attacks is therefore in the vein of "Tower Defense". The "Tower Defense" is a style of play (especially prevalent in the video game) that invites you to protect a place against waves of enemies, more and more numerous and difficult. In addition to your hero, you can also use traps or turrets to protect yourself. Village Attacks draws a lot from these models in its mechanisms. Except that here, there are no turrets. You will have to rely on your supernatural talents, your group cohesion and possibly some traps.
In turn, waves of enemies will sweep through the castle. They will have only one goal, to reach the heart and destroy everything. If on the way they can knock you out, they will not hesitate. To prevent them, you will take possession of one of the characters available in the basic game: Vampire, Banshee, Liche, Succubus or Headless Horseman. Five villain / hero, so five possible players in this fully cooperative game. Casting level, we remain in the classic that it is in the diversity but also in the visual of the game. It will be necessary to wait for the extensions to even appear more exoticism.
Knocking on your door are the unleashed hordes, composed mainly of peasants, but also hunters and heroes who are much more experienced and effective. But the numbers do not scare you. You have been practicing for centuries now, so managing a local population should not be too hard. We can’t lie, the peasants are weak. But their numbers can make the difference. Be careful not to underestimate them. They are clearly not there to have tea. The enemies are spawned through a card deck. The AI is not the most elaborate that we have had the opportunity to see, but works well. The challenge is present and the random appearance of the opponents adds to the replayability of the game.
Ambience level, this is Ameritrash, in the spirit at least. The theme is very much anchored in the game.
The castle is represented by tiles, modular according to the chosen scenario. The tiles are very beautiful and quite detailed. The colors chosen change from usual and give a warm look (for a monsters hangout, it’s beautiful no?).
The castle will evolve over the 10 scenarios available in the basic box. To be honest, if you're a regular player of this type of games, there will be really only five or four interesting scenarios. The rulebook is well written, there are few questions and little backtracking to be done. During the game, except possibly for the first, the need to go back and forth in the booklet is not felt. For the scenarios, they put you in the mood gradually. A bit like Andor, you’ll discover the rules as and when. Playing kind of a tutorial, Village Attacks seems inspired by video games. You’ll learn new small rules while playing. This allows not to be too submerged in the first part. This tutorial works pretty well and can play quickly with any type of audience. The more you advance in the story, the more the difficulty increases.
There is not really any story. There is no real campaign mode or general history. It is a set of scenarios totally independent, with the potential progression in the addition of the rules. Basically, you are nice monsters, well settled at home and attacked by waves of furious mad men. You only want one thing, to protect yourself. It's in your right after all, right?
A group of heroes who must survive against hordes of enemies, led by a master card deck over scenarios all more or less different. Does it not remind you of anything? In some ways, Village Attacks may be reminiscent of Zombicide. Finally, after playing, we found little common points, apart from the management of enemies and the simplicity of the rules. Village Attacks differs a lot from its predecessors by both its theme and its realization. You are facing a real "Tower Defense" game system. Apart from the absence of turrets, you’ll find all the mechanisms of the genre: traps, heroes more and more powerful, waves of enemies, weaknesses / strengths, improvement ...
Furthermore, players must cooperate. The synergy between the monsters is a very important thing and offers the greater interest of the game. Everyone has their abilities but also weaknesses. Weaknesses that another can overcome. Each monster has three special abilities, each of which can be upgraded once. The improvement is based on the experiences gained by killing opponents. The creatures come from three possible types: the Decimator (no he does not take the tithe) which is there to clear the ranks opposite, the Guardian who has more vocation to slow down the hordes and Supporters who have the function to heal the allies and corrupt the peasants (yes it's very video gamey). It's important to choose your characters based on the others. Be careful, there can only be one Decimator and one Guardian per game.
Your enemies will not stop coming to your castle to destroy you. For them, it's a matter of life and death. They will become more and more numerous. Their way of acting is quite simple. Their goal is the heart of the castle, so they will always move towards him. If by the way, they punch you down, why not?
There are little archetypes in the fighters: those who move normally and attack hand-to-hand, those who shoot at a distance, those who have small abilities that go well, those who are a little faster ... The opposition is represented with all different traits. The cards determine which type of enemies come into play each turn. When it comes to a hero or a hunter, you will dig into a cloth bag to know this Nemesis (each token in the bag corresponds to the symbol of one of the monsters in play). The Nemesis system is really a good idea. Depending on the color drawn, the attacker will be more effective against the monster of the same color. In return, if the Nemesis manages to kill them, they gain more experience. This adds a little tension and thematically it fits perfectly. Once the invaders reach the heart of your home, it takes damage. When all life points have been lost, the castle collapses and you with it. Like the portrait of Dorian Gray, you are immortal as long as the castle remains standing.
But before playing all these little freaks, the monsters can try to defend themselves. The way players will be able to act is one of the originalities of the game. The ability to cooperate with your monsters and to overcome the shortcomings of each one is really one of the most interesting points. In turn, you roll six dice. These are special dice with different faces. Each face corresponds to a possible action. Each monster has slots that can accommodate the dice on their character card. Not all cards provide the same facilities or capabilities. So, you'll have to deal with it. To vary the teams of monsters is to vary the pleasures and especially to offer different game experiences each time.
Unlike other games, make a bad roll does not necessarily penalize you ... Unless of course you only roll villagers. If you have three identical symbols, you can re-roll these three dice. Once. Free. You can even move by spending a dice of any face. I would even add that you can reserve dice for later. It's not so easy. Because as I told you before, each character has a card with unique locations. A slot allows you to put a die on it. So be careful of your personal limit. Of course, you can not go beyond that. For the other dice, you’ll find basic actions, common in many games: the melee attack, range attack, the magic, the riposte ... I immediately see the allergies dice cry scandal. So already, what are you doing here? Damned! No that's not it, come back!!! Chance is present, yes, but it is a random chance with regard to the actions. There is always the possibility of doing something. Same with the attack and the defense. No superfluous chucking. One touch equals one key (in order of priority). The defense is done automatically. Nothing is too much.
While I'm here, I told you about the traps. Traps can save you life effectively or at least facilitate the release of your dungeon. But for that you have to buy them and put them in place. Of course, you will have to sacrifice dice. Perform an action or set a trap? That's the question. When is it better to do one or the other knowing that in the end you are limited in what you can achieve. A powerful monster yes, but fairplay. The use of traps is again simplified. You buy it, you put your card in a room or a corridor, it triggers (most often) at the end of the movement or when the peasantry enter the room in their phase of displacement. Everything is indicated on the map. Nothing complicated. Traps used at the right time can play a vital role. It also brings a good dose of immersion. I think of a game like Orcs Must Die or Dungeon Defenders.
In terms of components, the box is well filled. There could be more but it's not bad. The figures of the monsters are superb, as for the enemies the set is correct. The French version is correct and does the job well (despite some small misspellings but nothing crippling). The tiles are detailed and set the mood. You’ll also find all the traditional pawns galore. The illustrations by Fernando Armentano, Aleksandra Bilic, Björn Hurri and Henning Ludvigsen are very good and put in this atmosphere of Dark Fantasy. It's dark but not too much, making it all readable.
The big strength of Village Attacks is to propose a simple challenge. Simple but not simplistic. Everything is done to provide immediate pleasure. No frills, no overlays, no incessant return in the rules. It's pure fun. You can take the time to discover the subtleties as the tutorial or dive directly body and soul (or what is left of it) in the adventure. The game offers an ease of access rarely equaled for this type of experience. Moreover the theme is to respect even if, in view of the pitch, you could expect more madness. The material as well correctly puts you in the mood.
Village Attacks manages to give life to a genre little used in the board game: Action Tower Defense. The mechanisms inherent to this type of game are well transcribed. The installation is short (for this type of game) and does not cause any problems. Each scenario offers its playability, its way of winning or losing, its pleasure. Some may find the game repetitive mechanically but many parameters allow to offer experiences of different parts. The day / night concept is simple to install and makes the game harder or even tactical.
Like a lot of ameritrash, it is in the stories that the players tell themselves while playing that the game shows all its power. Stories offer a lot of black humor (like the one where peasants have to be eaten to win). The playing time can be quite long but we did not see it pass. Village Attacks offers a good alternative to any Zombicide-like while offering another challenge. Simple, pleasant, fun, original in some ways, I can only advise you. Replayability is quite important and you can modulate the difficulty as you please. If you like this style of play, do not hesitate for a moment.
Do you want more ? The basic game is already well supplied but if you are regular gamer, it may be that you ask for more. There are many expansions that offer diversity especially at the realm of monsters to play. Exoticism and originality when possible. None of them are essential but they are indispensable. This promises you many hours of game in perspective.
Technical Score 8.5 / 10
The monster figures are superb, too bad that those of enemies are a notch below. The illustrations stick well to the universe but I would have liked, given the theme, a little more diversity and madness. The material is dark enough to stick to the theme while remaining bright enough to allow easy visibility. And that's very pleasant.
My BGG Score 8/10
(Very good game- I like to play and advise him)
A game where fun is put forward especially through the simplification of everything that could have been complicated. The game is instant play and does not ask useless questions. A big part of the interest lies in the choice of monsters and how to make them work together better. The theme brings a little freshness. A game accessible to all and able to adapt to all profiles. The expansions renew the choice without changing the game a lot.
Combined Score 8.25 / 10
Now, it's your turn to play ...