How many worker placement games do you have in your collection? How many of them are about wine production? How many of them have been hand-tweaked by Uwe Rosenberg?
If your answer is “none” to all of the above, then take your idea of a regular worker placement game, and Spice it up! with Viticulture, Essential Edition.
Viticulture was a game designed by Jamey Stegmaier and Alan Stone of Stonemaier games. That’s the company behind Euphoria, Between Two Cities, and the forthcoming hotness on BGG, Scythe.
In Viticulture, the designers crafted a well themed game all about the world of the vintner. Players take turns using their meeples to buy, plant, harvest, crush and bottle the best wine in their region. The theme is oozing out of every part of this game. It is one of those rare but fortunate game experiences where you really feel like you are bottling wine. The game was a hit, so much so that it spawned an expansion, Tuscany, that by all accounts made the game even better.
And one famous German designer, Uwe Rosenberg of Agricola and Caverna fame, took a real shine to the Tuscany expansion. With the game sold out, Jamey decided to put out a new edition, which he dubbed the Essential edition, which contained some of the Tuscany expansion parts that Uwe Rosenberg personally selected. This means that any new person to Viticulture can just start out with the Essential Edition and have a great experience right out of the box.
I think that starts with the components. There are tons of individually designed meeples for all of the different parts of your vineyard. Want to plant a certain grape? Better buy the trellis or get some irrigation, and those are represented by unique meeples.
Then there is the artwork. The board is thick and gorgeous, the artwork is delicious, and the cards are all top notch. I really like the look of the Mamas and Papas cards, which are your random starting resources. I am also really impressed with the different decks, which are all of the highest quality cards. No skimping around from Stonemaier Games.
Moving on to the gameplay, it only takes a few turns for even a newbie to worker placement games to get the concepts, especially if you explain that the game is all about planting, harvesting, bottling and selling wine. Once the player understands that, everything else in the game makes sense because the seasons, the visitors who come each season, and even the additional buildings are all just ways for the player to enhance their vineyard (and earn more victory points).
First one to 20 VPs wins, but what if you can’t get your buddies to try the game until next month’s game night? There’s also an Automa, basically a single player game built in. I tried it and it is a lot of fun. There are five different difficulty settings, a campaign mode, and even some alternate ways to play. There is enough in the box that any person who enjoys single play games will have weeks of fun.
I love worker placement games. I love wine (and lamps.) If you like both (or even if you just like worker placement games), you gotta try Viticulture, and now with the folks at Stonemaier Games bringing out the Essential Edition, you can Spice up! your next game night or solo experience with a well tuned game right from the first play.
I give it four our of five cayenne peppers. Until next time, Laissez les bon temps rouler!