Post Game Comments - 5 June - Viticulture
We were down to only 5 players, but we stuck with Viticulture as the game. Players start with a crush pad, a pinot vine in hand, and some money and work to build up a thriving vineyard and achieve the necessary 20 points to end the game. As the designer is fond of saying, this is a pure engine building game as there are no ways to force another player backwards. There is some slight timing issues if you manage to block out a desired action, but that is about the only confrontation in the game. It is essentially an efficiency race to the end. And parts of the game work very will. The concepts around planting vines in the field, harvesting grapes(*), crushing the grapes into wine, and then matching your inventory to wine orders for VPs works very well. There is a nice element of balancing these actions as well as the inevitable aging of the wines.
What seemed clunky and detracted from the game were the visitor cards. These are special actions that provide an alternate way of achieving the on-board actions usually at a lower cost or with a greater payout. The trouble is that the cards seemed to vary widely in their ability. Some were great and beneficial while others seemed like crap. The trouble is that these cards are drawn blindly each turn by the players so by virtue of the luck of the draw, some players will find their plans advanced greatly while others get nothing beneficial. I’ve seen some comments that state that since these cards are cycled throughout the game (we shuffled their draw decks a few times in the game) that the “luck averages out” but I really didn’t think so.
In the end, it was Tim that sold two win orders after about 2 hours of play to reach 21 points to win the game. Lawrence (15) and Jeff (14) were probably a wine order behind Tim in timing while Rich (8) and Ben (7) were a couple of wine orders behind the winner. (I know I was preparing to sell a couple of orders the next turn if Tim hadn’t reached 20 points, so missed out on the timing.)
(*)I did review the FAQ where it was clarified that each field can only be harvested ONCE each year. The game doesn’t have any markers to indicate when a field has been harvested, so perhaps next time we play – a glass bead is placed on the field to indicate it has no more grapes to harvest.
I might be interested to try the game again with 3 or 4 players to see if it is any better. The number of action slots will scale down still leaving approximately 3 per player per season, but the turn order track will be more open perhaps leaving it more interesting for the wake-up spring actions. Or perhaps not if the lower “rewards” just aren’t that valuable....
See you all in two weeks,