|2-6||90 min||Stonemaier Games||Jamey Stegmaier and Alan Stone||2013|
|Optimum||Play Time||Teaching Time||Teacher Age||Min Age|
|4 Players||120 min||20 min||10+||8+|
Viticulture is a Worker-Placement game where you run a winery. The object of the game is to get the most victory points, which mostly come from completing wine orders. The game will end at the end of the round where someone gets to twenty points.
The game plays over many (usually 8-9, in my experience) rounds, which represents a year. You do different things in each season, but keep in mind that you only get your workers at the end of each year. You have to determine how many workers you want to use in both Summer and Winter. There are two other interesting features of the Worker Placement mechanic. If you place the meeple first in an area, you get a minor bonus. If you get blocked out, you have one large meeple (el Jefe), which allows you to also take that action.
- In the spring, you choose where to place your workers in the spring only areas (which depending on if you are first to take that action, will give you some sort of bonus such as an extra card, an extra dollar, etc).
- In summer, you choose where to place your workers in the summer only areas – Play Visitor, Draw Vine, Plant Vine, Give a Tour, Sell Grapes and Build Structure
- In fall, you get to draw a visitor card from either the summer or winter draw decks. The visitor cards have a multitude of powers, and can be instrumental in play.
- In winter, you get to place your workers in the winter Areas: Draw Order, Harvest Field, Play Visitor, Make Wine, Gain $, Train Worker and Fill Wine Order.
At the end of the year, you age your grapes and wines, collect and residual income gained from filling orders, and pull your workers off the board. You continue until the end game condition of someone achieving 20 points on the scoring track is met.
# of Plays at the time of this review: 3 plays (2 with 4 players, 1 with 5 people)
I really wasn’t sure about this game when I first played it. I did horribly! I just couldn’t get the engine going to any level of efficiency. You really need to make sure you are harvesting grapes and making wine a lot, and I don’t think you can ignore the bigger cellar structures as so many of the orders require them.
One of the frustrations I have with the game is that the order cards are just shuffled up and you can get a very valuable, (and harder to produce) order early in the game, while someone who gets an order that they can fulfill early, and gather more residual income from, will have a much easier time of it.
The visitor cards can make or break you as well. Some of them are very good for almost any situation, while others need some setup to be efficiently used.
I think there are a lot of paths to victory, which I really like. There is a lot of player interraction, especially around turn order, but also when selecting actions.
There is a second edition on the market, which really just cleans up the gameplay (I picked up the upgrade kit which did the same thing, and printed out a current rulebook, which I highly recommend).
At the time of writing, I have not picked up the Tuscany expansion, which has a number of modules that can be added to the game as desired, but I have heard good things about it.
I think after 3 plays (and I foresee many more in the future, I would set this as a HOSTED GAME. It is a lot of fun, scales well from 3-6 players, and doesn’t require a lot of assistance after the initials rules explanation (which will take about 20 minutes).
If you have any questions, comments, or criticisms, please feel free to leave me a comment, or drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org