Jordan Grieve
Canada
Salmon Arm
British Columbia
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After two years of engrossing myself in this wonderful hobby including logging every play and multiple visits per day to BGG. I thought what this community obviously needs is the rambling thoughts of a man with no more qualifications or unique insights than anyone else, however just someone willing to share his thoughts. I have decided to provide my first written review and what better place to start than Viticulture Essential Edition. I hope you enjoy and any questions or comments are welcome.

Who are we?
We are Viticulturists! Surprised? I thought not, we will plant vines, harvest grapes age wines and fulfil the orders of merchants. All while using visitors and structures to aid our quest for the highest number of victory points. The feeling of living in old world Tuscany, managing a vineyard has me captivated from the first time a worker is awoken by his adorable wooden rooster. Enough babbling about who we are, how does it work?

How it works:
Viticulture at its heart is a worker placement game that is played over a number of years (rounds) split into the four seasons. Our goal is to reach 20 victory points and thus showing our superiority in all aspects of winemaking. The game starts with spring in which each player chooses when they would like to wake up their workers (turn order) the later you wake up the better the bonus, however, you will potentially miss out on the bonuses of desirable action spaces.

We transition into the bright rays of summer, which makes up roughly half of the active gameplay. The main board of Viticulture is split into two halves which include "summer action" and "winter action" spaces. Your workers can only be used once throughout the year so you must determine if you would like to use them in the summer, winter or a mix of the two. The summer actions include most of the spaces to get your engine going, draw vine cards, plant vine cards, build a structure, get more money etc. These actions are highly contested at the start of the game as they are essential (no that was not a play at the game title) for establishing the basis of a successful vineyard. The vines you plant will later be harvested into grapes and then converted to wine tokens to ultimately be sold for points and residual income. The structures may be required to plant those vines or to augment the capacity of your cellar thus allowing you to house more valuable wine tokens.

The leaves change as do our thoughts as we cruise into fall. In fall all players decide if they would like to draw a summer visitor card or a winter visitor card (those who have built the cottage structure get two!) The visitor cards offer unique benefits to players, summer visitors are tailored like the actions towards getting the engine built. Winter visitor cards are much more helpful for making wine, filling orders and getting victory points.

A quick stop in fall brings us to the final season of the round, winter. As summer was a chance to build the engine winter is the time for reaping the rewards. The action spaces include harvesting the planted vines into grape tokens on our crush pad, converting those grapes into a variety of wine types and filling our order cards. At the end of the year, we retrieve all workers to be placed again next year, collect any residual income we may have generated from filling orders and discard our hand down to seven cards.

My Thoughts
Viticulture is one of my all-time favourite games which is why I thought it would be a great debut to my written reviews.

The production quality of this game is absolutely top-notch, as someone that reads all of the rulebooks for his gaming group I immensely appreciate a clear and precise manual with loads of images and reference guides for easy learning. The individual wooden pieces get me more excited than I care to admit, as my wife puts it "With uniquely shaped wooden bits you will always see Jordan smiling." The boards are all high quality and the cards are a nice finish.

One of the treasured aspects of Viticulture is its ability to scale at all player counts. I have played at every player count except 1 (which I hear is incredible) and it plays just as well with 2 as it does with 5. This in itself is a feat as it allows such flexibility, increasing its odds of gaining highly contested table time. The core strategy is to fill wine orders to gain points, however, I almost won a game doing nothing but waking up 6th collecting a point every year and buying/selling a field all while using visitor cards to nickel and dime my way to a 19 point loss. What an adventure that was. The delights of seeing early year work pay off to late game results are incredibly rewarding. The fact that workers are placed once throughout the entire year leaves you deliberating on whether you absolutely are going to need that worker in the winter, or can you accomplish one more summer action. It is such a beautifully designed puzzle that I see myself enjoying this game for many years to come. I would classify viticulture as a step up from gateway. Not to be introduced to someone not familiar at all with gaming but very accessible nonetheless.

Every time it hits the table I pour myself a full-bodied glass of red wine and explore the wonderful world of Viticulture.


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Robert Lane
Australia
Ellen Grove
Queensland
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Have you tried the Tuscany expansion?
For Viticulture lovers I really can't recommend it highly enough. Tuscany takes this already great game and elevates it to a whole new level of wonderful.

Very nice first review by the way.
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Jordan Grieve
Canada
Salmon Arm
British Columbia
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TheBlackenedRat wrote:
Have you tried the Tuscany expansion?
For Viticulture lovers I really can't recommend it highly enough. Tuscany takes this already great game and elevates it to a whole new level of wonderful.

Very nice first review by the way.


Thanks so much for the kind words. I have not tried Tuscany. I understand there is a new board, I was unsure of my thoughts on that.
 
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Morten Monrad Pedersen
Denmark
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A big thumbsup for making our game your first (and nice) written review .

Cheers
- Morten/Stonemaier Games
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Chris Laudermilk
United States
Orange County
California
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jgrieve81 wrote:
Every time it hits the table I pour myself a full-bodied glass of red wine and explore the wonderful world of Viticulture.



Butbutbut...what if all you have is white grapes or orders for white, blush or sparkling? goo

...sorry, couldn't resist.

As for Tuscany, yes if you love Viticulture, Tuscany just makes it even better. The board is definitely one of the attractions.
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Jérôme
Netherlands
Eindhoven
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Fantastic game, and to add my voice to the choir: +1 for Tuscany, and then there's also Moor Visitors which gives a subtle twist to the visitors.
 
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kos blaat
Netherlands
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V:EE is NOT a worker placement game, rather it is an action selection game plus a wine sim. It is a masterpiece, and the Tuscany expansion adds unneeded complexity and loss of focus to it.

Yes you place workers on places, but you also have a Grande and the power of good play comes from efficient usage of guest cards that you have in your hand. Real hard core Worker Placement games have the characteristic that you get frustrated, V:EE is always a party. YMMV.
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