Saturday, July 2, 2016

Viticulture, with Tuscany

My reading's been a touch slower the last few days, but I did get in a play of Viticulture from Stonemaier Games with parts of the Tuscany expansion. We had four players, all had played vanilla Viticulture before. We added the expansion board(without construction), Mamas and Papas, all the extra visitors(including the Moor Visitors), and two of the specialty workers, the Chef and the Soldat.

Now, if you've played just the base game but that's it, I'm gonna say it... you're missing out. If you haven't played the base game... you're missing out.

For the uninitiated: Viticulture is a worker placement game about wine making. It was the first game from Stonemaier Games, and timing is important, so choose your turn order carefully. Each worker can only be used once in a year. You have fields to plant grape vines in, buildings to buy, grapes to harvest, wine to make, and specific wine orders to fill. It's a good time, but not excellent. Tuscany takes it to excellent.

As to the changes:

Mamas and Papas: Setup for each player is now randomized, but still a bit balanced, and players even have a choice to make on the Papa card.
Now, the large board changes things a lot. There's bonuses for turn order in three of the four seasons. The area control endgame keeps things a little in the air until the end. I think we screwed up the choosing of turn order in one way, but otherwise got it right. Seasons go up to four seasons of placement, and each one has times and reasons they're important. No more automatic visitor cards mean that building the cottage isn't necessary, but can incentivize later turn order choices.

The extra visitor cards change things up a lot. My last game, we had gone through both visitor decks multiple times, and some are just more useful than others,  and some only at certain times. No more repetition of the deck now, that number more than tripled, and more visitors are useful throughout the game, including some that have one use early, and another late. Some even can be played in summer and winter, but have different uses based on season.

The specialty workers: Each time you play with them, you shuffle the deck of choices and choose two. Your worker maximum is still six, so a regular worker is replaced when you train them, and they cost an additional coin to train. I won't review them all here, but the Soldat can prevent the use of some spaces by your opponents, and the Chef displaces a non-Chef, and lets you take an action that is full.

Next time, I hope to add the constructs, and maybe the Fromaggio expansions. I'm really happy I finally got to play this one, and have no regrets about it sitting in my library unexpanded for many months. I dig it.

When you play Social Justice, the world loses.

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