20 May 2021
The grass might be greener
Ah, the village green. The source of pride for many a parish council member, local busybodies, and occasionally the bane of children when met with the ‘no ball games’ sign. When it comes to keeping up with the Joneses however, you want to make sure your village green is better than the one at the centre of the next village over. Settling these long held grudges, beyond suggesting that every neighbouring village somehow has webbed feet, is best done through passive aggressive garden arrangements.
And that’s where Peer Sylvester (The King Is Dead, Judge Dredd: The Cursed Earth) comes in with Village Green. This is a handsome box of very nice looking and feeling cards, mostly depicting trees, ponds, grass and ornaments. We’re here to make the best looking and most envy-inducing village green around out tables. To do this we’re going to be creating grids of cards in front of us, taking from a market in the centre. The outer row and column are the way players can score points – these can be for having more than two types of tree in that row, or for a certain colour of card, or no ponds. Importantly, you build this scoring mechanism over time, and these cards can be overlaid whenever you wish.
In the centre of the village green players place their point-scoring cards, matching with the suit or the colour of the cards next to them. This can lead to tricky choices for would-be landscapers – you may only be able to lay a card in a certain position in the grid because of the restrictions, but this would ruin your point-scoring ability for that row. Corrections can be made as you go, by turfing over parts of your green with rare normal lawn cards.
Playing the game with three or more is especially pleasing, and leads to a kind of gentle humming around the table. The players main point of conflict is someone else taking the card they want from the main market row, which offers interesting, if frustrating shifts in game plan. But that’s what the game is all about, changing your mind around what you’d planned to do and into a compromised position which you hope is just good enough to beat the other nearby villages in the running. This is equally important because those who lay out their green first will end the game, so speed is strangely of the essence for such a relaxed game.
The game feels like the ideal holiday game, a great game for passing the time when passing the time is all that needs to happen. It’s a game worth slowing down for, and while there is plenty of thinky, brain-warming mechanics and gameplay on offer, you’re not in total conflict. Our first game had everyone around the table in near silence apart from the odd sigh, hum or murmur which had the exact feeling of when everyone is really happy with their dinner. An excellent slice of gentle gaming that in the right circumstances can feel just perfect.
Christopher John Eggett
Somehow the perfectly balanced mix of quiet contemplation and barely audible frustration, the ideal holiday game for sunny days where one another’s company is all you need.
For those who like quiet contemplation, there’s little better than this modular set-up marketing game with a touch of pattern-matching about it. Village Green is the slightly less crunchy cousin – and you’re not going to end up with sand in your sandwiches.
Designer: Peer Sylvester
Publisher: Osprey Games
Time: 30 minutes
What’s in the box?
This article originally appeared in issue 47 of Tabletop Gaming. Pick up the latest issue of the UK's fastest-growing gaming magazine in print or digital here or subscribe to make sure you never miss another issue.
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