I forgot where I heard about Villages of Valeria, but I can tell you I almost missed it. I seriously almost never knew it existed. I can tell you right now that would have been a damn shame.
Villages of Valeria is set in the same world as Valeria: Card Kingdoms, but takes place just before the hordes of monsters attack. Players take the role of Barons constructing cities, each hoping to become the capital of Valeria by building the greatest buildings and attracting the best heroes.
At the start of the game, every player gets a hand of 6 cards and a certain amount of gold depending on the number of players. Each player also has their castle played in front of them, which can provide a wild resource throughout the game. The Building and Adventurer decks are shuffled, and 5 of each type of card are put down as the current market. Every player then takes one card from their hand and places it with their castle as a resource for free.
It’s probably a good time to mention that Buildings can be built or flipped upside down to be used as a resource, which is needed to build more buildings.
The first player takes the Active Player token and takes one of the following actions, with the other players having the option of taking the Follow Action.
HARVEST: Draw 3 Cards.
Follow: Draw 1 Card.
DEVELOP: Discard 1 card to add a Card to your Castle as a Resource.
Follow: You may discard 2 cards to add a Card to your Castle as a Resource.
BUILD: Place Gold on Resources to add a building to your village and draw 1 card.
Follow: You may place Gold on Resources to add a building to your village.
RECRUIT: Pay 1 Gold to add an Adventurer to your village.
Follow: Pay 2 Gold to add an Adventurer to your village.
TAX: Collect 1 Gold and draw 1 Card.
Follow: Draw 1 Card.
Play then continues with the next player taking the Active Player token and choosing an action, and so on. The game ends when a number of buildings, depending on the number of players, is built. Victory points are then added up and the winner declared.
For the full rules, check out the video below:
Villages of Valeria is mostly cards and those of high quality. The artwork on them is both colorful and beautiful. I’m especially fond of all the different, quirky adventurers. The wooden tokens, the Active Player token and gold pieces, go above and beyond by not only being wooden but also having painted detail on them.
Wonderfully detailed, wooden pieces
My 3 oldest kids and I loved Villages of Valeria. The combination of managing resources, choosing what action to take during a round, choosing if you’re going to take a Follow actions during another player’s turn, and choosing when to snag the right adventure just felt so perfectly balanced and streamlined. Never once during play did anything feel the least big clunky or out of place.
Sometimes a game just hits all the right buttons. Between the size of the game, the colorful artwork, simple rules, and excellent gameplay, Villages of Valeria is one of those games that I feel will be played by my family for years to come. With the sheer amount of games coming through the door, it’s rare for a game to really strike such a cord with us that I can say with certainty that it’s one that will stand the test of time.
Is Villages of Valeria for you? I’d love to say it is, but of everyone has their own likes/dislikes. If you’ve read the above and are at least mildly interested, I’d give it a try. At $25 and with a play time of around 30-60 minutes, it’s worth taking a chance. I think you’ll love it, and hope you love is as much as I do.
A copy of Villages of Valeria was provided for review by Daily Magic Games.