Updated: Feb 12, 2020
Designed by Adam Smith (no, not that Adam Smith) and published by Grimlord Games, Village Attacks is a fast-playing fully co-operative game that turns the fantasy genre norms on their head. In this game, you're not fighting the monsters - you are the monsters. The objectives vary according to which scenario you choose to play but the basic premise is that the players represent monsters of folklore holed up in a castle that is under attack by waves of angry villagers.
The most immediately striking thing about Village Attacks is the quality of the minis; not just for the main characters but even for the most generic villagers. These are minis to die for; or rather, given the twist on which this game is predicated, they should perhaps more properly be described as minis to kill for! They are all beautiful sculpts that help bring the game play to life.
And there’s a very good game here too. At the start of their turn, Players roll six six-sided custom dice which determine what actions they can take. The roll of a torch symbol always denies the player an action, activating instead the movement of a villager. Other than this, dice can always be spent for movement and players have the opportunity to place dice in reserve – preserving the roll for a future turn. The game cones with tokens representing the reserved dice rolls, although it would have been better if the game had come with sufficient dice for players to be able to place the actual dice in reserve. The players’ monster characters each have their own unique special abilities, and these are developed and improved as characters gain experience and level up (by slaying villagers).
Some of the villagers are weak and easily defeated but your monster characters will also face more powerful hunters as well as town heroes, who can be deadly foes, particularly if your monster type (Undead, Mythic, Cursed, Arcane or Demon) also happens to be their specialty. In this game you can and probably will be killed. As you might expect, however, death for monsters represents a setback rather than finality: if your character is killed it respawns, albeit at a cost of points which could hasten the players’ collective defeat.
There’s meat enough in this game to deliver considerable replay value. The game comes with 14 scenarios. The first few also serve as tutorials but the others are all very replayable. If playing with fewer than the five-player maximum, you will probably want to replay scenarios using different monster types. Grimlord have also taken an incremental approach to the rules; inviting players to use ‘advanced rules’ once they are comfortable with the basic mechanics. The advanced rules include ‘status conditions’, which increasingly handicap the monsters, and the introduction of day and night modes. In keeping with the theme, monsters are more powerful at night but much weaker during the day. A special day or night die replaces one of the ordinary dice: the night die has only melee and ranged attack symbols so drives more aggressive play; the day die only has blank faces or a torch symbol so can only ever benefit the villagers. Also, monsters are unable to earn experience from slaying villagers during the day. There are other advanced rule options to also consider but you are probably always going to want to play using at least the status conditions and day/night modes.
Village Attacks plays smoothly, so that, even with a full complement of five players, you should be able to complete a scenario in about an hour. In part, that's because the AI controlling the villagers is simple yet effective, making for appropriately challenging games. If you’re looking for a co-operative game with a difference, then Village Attacks is a tower defence game that you should definitely check out.
Evidently there are also expansions in the pipeline, adding new monsters and new game play elements. If we can get hold of any of these, we’ll feature them too on Board’s Eye View.