Post GenCon 2011 purchase. I can't play it with the base game because the cards are not the same. The group I play with would always know when an expansion card was at the top of the deck, and with this expansion some of the card combos are killers. It only gets a 3 because it can stand on its own.
Playing simultaneous solitaire with other people and then checking to see who played best when it's over is not my idea of great gameplay. I'm afraid that both times I played this I had a "This is torture, can someone please just make it end NOW" experience. Others love it, and more power to them.
Adding insult to injury, this game is easily twice as long as it needs to be due to players having to wait a round to build after trading for goods....which does not alter the game in any way other than making it excruciatingly longer. Excruciatingly because nothing interesting is happening in that time. I'll play Twighlight Imperium, Die Macher, etc., so length of game isn't an issue as long as the game play is INTERESTING.
Plus, don't let the cute artwork fool you, if played the way it is designed, this is a vicious game.
Bottom line, other games do the economic/civ engine much better.
This was such a disappointment. Lord of the Rings has beautiful game boards. The boards progessively follow the story, which is nice, but the game play is dry, repetitive, and tedious. It is also one of the least truly cooperative "cooperative" games I've played, in that a bare minimum of interaction or group decisions are necessary. This is only my opinion, of course. It may fit someone else's ideal perfectly.
Complexity does not equal depth of play. Complexity does not automatically equal a great game.
Tried to play, but it was needlessly and awkwardly rules minutiae heavy for a game that was simple set collection at its heart. I committed the unforgivable sin of quiting a game before it was over. Heck, we had only completed the first round. The components were beautiful, but the game was NOT.
Repetitive. I wanted to like it, but there wasn't enough to it. It's like one of those pop tunes with a catchy beat but only one line repeated over and over. (Put cards in sack and bluff/tell the truth. Repeat.)
It is obviously a lot of other people's cup of tea. More a party game that doesn't play a whole party of people, but only four.
This is the game that convinced me that a huge economic machine building game should never come down to sheer luck. The card draws in this game will make or break everything else you do, and some cards are vastly overpowered compared to others. Most importantly, the card draws aren't always the type you can plan around, which means the game comes down to luck. If you get the grapes that match your sales cards you are going to do well. If you can't get matching grapes and sales cards, all of your building will come to naught, and there is nothing you can do. (And a game spent madly trying to draw cards to get what you need to no avail is not much fun.)
I love the building up of the vineyard. I love growing and harvesting the grapes. But I really wish they had created a permanent sales board with all the types of wine you could sell to the side. Then you could plan for your sales, and it really would be an excellent strategy game.
Hopefully, never again...this is a "everyone beat on everyone else and constantly thwart their plans" game. I actually wound up in a position to effect who of thee players might win, so it can also be a king maker game.