Pencilvillage is a solo print-and-play strategy game. You manage
resources, protect and grow a village, and delve into dungeons in
search of treasure.
Pencilvillage has enough crunch to be satisfying, but it's light. Each
game lasts an hour or less, and it's easy to pause. I set out to make
the most interesting puzzle possible for the fewest rules and the
simplest possible systems. The rules fit on a single page!
You customize each game with setup options, which also fit on a single
page. These include a selection of 25 objectives, which broadly direct
your town's development; 15 characters, which come with their own
strengths, weaknesses, and terrain preferences, forcing you to adapt
your strategy; and 26 mods, which add mind-bending rules to the game
and can be combined for even more interesting challenges.
Then you choose from four maps. Maps come in two halves: a cheery
overworld on top, with varied (and mechanically crucial) terrain, where
you build your village, and an oppressive underworld at the bottom,
where your brave heroes quest through dungeons to slay monsters and
bring home treasure.
The combination of objective, character, mods and map add up to a
substantially unique experience each time you play.
Once your game is set up, you play with only two sheets of paper.
That's it. These include all the tables, references, systems and
terrain you need for a satisfying strategic experience. No paging
through manuals looking for stuff! The experience is really slick.
Broadly speaking, you spend the first half of the game building out
your town in the overworld while you spin up your economy, and the
second half of the game sprinting to fulfil your objective while
questing as greedily as possible in the game's varied dungeons.
Throughout, your town will need an increasingly stern military to
survive the attacks against it.
Every action has been meticulously streamlined to reduce the fiddliness
factor. Resource structures produce in fixed amounts, discount
mechanics are scarce, gain and loss is as simple as rotating a die or
moving tokens, there's very little erasing, and thoughtfully designed
trackers make the systems clear at a glance.
The depth has not suffered as a result of this streamlining. Every
round, you will weigh up competing priorities, trade off long-term
direction and short-term necessity, and make meaningful decisions with
- Players: 1
- Ages: 8-80
- Length: 45 - 60 minutes
- Publisher: Andrew Backhouse
- Designer: Andrew Backhouse
- Art: Andrew Backhouse
- Page count: 8 Pages
- Components: Rules
- Additional components needed: Printer, pencil, eraser, 6 six-sided dice, resource trackers (another 6 six-sided dice, or tokens or coins)
- Notes: None