Recommended Age: 14+
Playing the role of a gardener, Village Green, published by Osprey Games and designed by Peer Sylvester (of The Lost Expedition, The King Is Dead fame), is a lesson in Ambridge-esque rural politics.
But behind those dazzling lemon drizzle cake smiles and welcoming warm ale embraces, is there competitive streak as sharp and as cold as old Joe Grundy’s cider apple slicer? Or is the solo mode of this game as cosy as a fireside hug from Jill Archer?
Let’s find out!
In solo mode, on each turn, you will be drawing a card into your hand from a pool of three face-up “green” cards or a randomly drawn one. Alternatively, you can select one of three face-up “award” cards, or risk it by selecting one from the deck. Once picked, you then set down your chosen card in front of you.
Green cards continue to populate your village tableau until they form a maximum 3 x 3 grid. The award cards form a border around one side and the top of your tableau, dictating the scoring criteria for the column or row of green cards connected to it. Two bites of the cherry Bakewell for each green card!
Garden Design is not free form contemporary, however. You cannot discard a green card in solo mode and placement is further restricted by the need to match flower symbols or colours on any cards set down adjacently. Structure specific green cards also trigger the placement of an award card in solo mode which can scatter your scoring strategies like sesame seeds on a Snaps snack.
Play then continues until you cannot place any further cards into the village green and the scoring border (or you do not want to risk placing any more in case they score your daffodils down!). Should you need it, you can use the village card power once in a game to cover up an existing card with a drawn card (in the hope of achieving an award) but you will lose one precious point in the process.
Village Green is a pretty card game – the genteel illustrations by Joanna Rosa are reminiscent of Sunday afternoon cricket matches, jolly vicars, and bobble-hatted ramblers. But with flowers, trees, statues, and ponds all vying for space and prestigious points, it can be a tense ten minute tangle amongst the hydrangeas in solo mode.
This game is a fine example of fast playing, set collecting, beat-your-own-scoring, small box puzzling if that is what you like with your Ploughman’s lunch.
Luck of the draw is a weightier factor when playing solo as some of the ways to mitigate the randomness in multiplayer mode are removed. Aside from the draw, however, there is not much in the way of unexpected exciting village gossip. Just a pleasingly pastoral puzzle.
The colour/symbol differentiation on the cards could also be a little clearer (the yellow flower shapes especially are all very similar) which could present problems for players with colour vision deficiency but perhaps a little DIY marking up could come to the rescue.
Ultimately, however, if you like a quick half pint of petty, pretty puzzling with your village fete fairy cake inspired lunch, then, as an engaging amuse-bouche, Village Green could be for you.
Want to see NickBDnD in action playing Village Green solo-style over on Zatu’s Twitch channel? Please click here