GTM #201 - The Village Crone
Reviewed by Jane Trudeau-Smith & Philip Smith

Fall, Halloween, Witchery! Perfect! Wickersby Village needs a wise woman, and your goal is to become that village’s local crone! In order to do that you must cast spells, but first, you have send out your familiars to gather the proper ingredients to cast them!

Was this Game Easy to Learn?

The eight-page rule book is chock-full of nice examples and diagrams, and contains a sample play and variations to try for a solitaire game. This game has some options to learn, but not so many that they become hard to remember. We managed to cast all of the eight different spells during our first game. After doing each one at least once, you'll have it down! One rule that is easy to forget is that when you cast a cast a spell, you MUST say the incantation. If another player catches you casting without vocalizing the incantation, your spell FAILS! For our first time playing we cut each other a little slack, but next time we play there will be no leniency!

How is it Played?

There are six boards that make up the play area. Each board is a location in the village that you place randomly each time you play to vary the game. You can even place them in different patterns, but we used the recommended 3x2 arrangement. Each location is manned with an appropriate villager to start the game: blacksmith, farmer, lord, miller, peasant, and priest (e.g. the priest starts in the “tithe barn”). To cast your spells, you collect from four decks of ingredients: fire, flour, silver, and soil. Shuffled into each deck are three “eye of newt” ingredients which act as wild cards for any ingredient. These decks are placed in their appropriate locations (e.g. flour is in the mill).

Each witch receives:

  • A Book of Spells, which is a privacy screen with your witch name on the front, a guide of all the spells, and the turn order to help with game play
  • five familiar tokens: Each witch has their own familiar shown on the book of spells
  • There is also a witch's broom token to show the start player

Lastly, there are Witch’s Scheme Cards. These are the goals you need to accomplish in the game. The witch’s scheme cards are numbered 1 - 3, which are the points each are worth if you complete the goal. The higher the points, the harder the goal. Each player starts with three cards – one of each (1, 2, 3). These goals are hidden behind the privacy screen. As goals are completed, they are revealed and the points are tallied. Your witch needs 13 points to win the game!

There are four actions to take per round. But, beforehand, in turn order, each witch takes one familiar token and places it in a location, allowing that witch to take two corresponding ingredients to start. This is done twice per player, after which a third familiar token is placed in the Village Green – a location with no ingredients. The last two familiars can each be added to the board by casting a spell during your turn. So, you basically start with four ingredients. Make sure to look at your goals and see what spells you need to cast to achieve them, hence what ingredients you may want to start with.

Game play then begins:

  • Tithe – each witch must discard one ingredient face down to the “tithe barn” location – the only way to avoid that is to have one of your familiars in the tithe barn
  • Move and Cast – each player can move any of their familiars OR the villagers on the board up to a total of six spaces (no diagonal moves). You are either moving your familiars to locations to get ingredients, or moving villagers to satisfy one or more of your goals. Then, see if you can cast any spells. Each spell requires you to have the proper ingredients — and don't forget to say the incantation! You can cast multiple times if you have enough ingredients. After each spell, the ingredients go into a discard pile, which can be used later to replenish the location's decks. If after casting you have completed a witch’s scheme card, you declare it, show the conditions met, and place the card to the side to show how many points you have. After each completion, take a new scheme card. Choose the point level you think you can accomplish, or based on what you still need to win.
  • A quick example might helpJane had a scheme card with goals to A) Summon the Peasant to the Mill (she had to use a summoning spell to do that) and B) Transform the Peasant to a Frog (she had to use a transformation spell to do that). Once both goals were met she was able to collect 2 points on that card.  Phil had a scheme card with a single goal to get the Miller to the Village green, which did not require a spell – he just moved the Miller with a move action.

  • Harvest – draw two ingredients from each location where your familiars are. If for any reason you do not have any familiars in locations with ingredients, choose two from the top of the tithe barn's deck.

  • Move the Broom to the next player to show the first player for the next round

  • When someone reaches 13 points, make sure everyone has a final turn. It is possible to tie, and there are tie breakers in the rules. The person with 13 points wins the game and is the village crone!

Timing of the Game

The game says it takes about 90-minutes to play. With more players it may take that long or longer, but with only the two of us, we finished the game in under an hour.

This is a great game where your strategy may vary each time you play, depending on board setup and the scheme cards you have drawn. It was very entertaining, and we are looking forward to playing it with more of our friends!

Fun Fact: You can download 3D print files for the pieces on their website! We might buy a 3-D printer to try this out... Or, maybe not. But if you have one – how cool is this?

  • MSRP: $35
  • # of Players – 1-6
  • Age Range – 13+
  • Time to Play – 90-minutes
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