Back in my Kickstarter entry, I mentioned a handful of games I was looking forward to (two of which having arrived since the posting), but that a specific one was getting its own entry. That would be Villages of Valeria (VoV). This game is the second of a running series of board games based in the world of Valeria, which started in Valeria Card Kingdoms (VCK), another Kickstarter (KS) project I backed last year (and one of the the move impressive campaigns I've experienced so far on the crowdfunding site). When this game was announced, I jumped at the opportunity to back it.
I always compare Valeria Card Kingdoms to both Dominion and Machi Koro (which seems to turn people away from the game, unfortunately), being it shares a mixture of elements and mechanics of both, but I feel executes them better. If not familiar with either of those games, Dominion has a Marketplace layout where you make purchases from piles of cards and add them to your deck to eventually use later on, offering you more opportunities to take an Action (play a card), Draw, and/or Buy (make an addition purchase from the Marketplace). In Machi Koro there is also a Marketplace where players buy cards from, but instead of going into a deck, they build a tableau in front of them. The cards in someone's tableau activate certain abilities depending on what number is rolled on a single die or pair of dice and on who's turn it is. There is more to both, but that's a simplified rundown of the shared aspects VCK has.
Valeria Card Kingdom combined those elements, but expanded upon them. Not only can you buy cards from a Marketplace to build a tableau in front of you (ending the game when a number of stacks are emptied), but you can fight monsters and build domains. Also, unlike Machi Koro, everyone gets to activate cards each turn (except in 5 player games), whether being the Active player or not being the determining factor in which ability activates. This allows people to remain engaged the entire game rather than waiting for long periods of time between turns. Again, a lot more to it, but just a gist. It was a huge hit with multiple playgroups!
Villages of Valeria seems to keep the mechanic of everyone being able to participate each turn, regardless of who's turn it is, intact. It does, however, feature vastly different gameplay mechanics than its predecessor. While there may be a Marketplace, how you go about obtaining those cards differs. It looks as though you need to use cards from your hand to either build specific building types (each granting various abilities), or sacrifice them to use as resource generators so you can go about building different cards that may be of more use to you. Eventually, you may attract certain citizens/heroes/adventurers if you have the needed specific buildings in play.
I've noticed people comparing VoV to San Juan/Race for the Galaxy and Imperial Settlers, but I have only played two of those once, so honestly I'm pretty clueless to the similarities. Either way, I felt the game looked unique, and the KS campaign was an incredibly huge success! A large amount of stretch goals were added and met, and the price was hard to beat. I ended up grabbing the Deluxe Edition for a few bucks extra, with additional content!
I'm so excited to play this, and while it does have a premium Print and Play available (I utilized this for VCK, meaning I was able to enjoy and share this game months before its official release), I learned the hard way from the previous Valeria game that ink for printers can cost more than double what the game costs! For that reason I remain hesitant, but who knows, maybe I'll break down and print it out anyhow. It may be hard to wait until this September, which is when the Kickstarter fulfillment begins...
Then again, I may need that money to back the new Quests of Valeria campaign that started up this morning!
Have you ever played Valeria Card Kingdoms? If so, what are your thoughts on it? What about Dominion and/or Machi Koro? Do you enjoy either of those games? If you've ever played San Juan, Race for the Galaxy, and/or Imperial Settlers does the video of Villages of Valeria remind you of similar gameplay and mechanics used in those games? Did you pledge on either the VKC and/or VoV Kickstarter campaigns? Are you pledging on the new Quests of Valeria campaign?