Tabletop Tuesday: Viticulture, Essential Edition (Wine Crate)

I really enjoyed playing Viticulture on Board Game Arena these past few months, so when the Wine Crate with Viticulture World was announced a few months ago, I decided I was finally going to get the physical game for my collection. I’m so glad I did because I just adore it!

In Viticulture, you are the owner of a vineyard in Italy. You start out small, with just three workers and a few lira, maybe a gift of grapes or a building on the land, left to you from your parents. During the Summer, you plant your grapes, build new structures and sometimes have a visitor or two stop by to give you special bonuses. During the Fall, you wait for your grapes to grow and then in Winter you try your best to harvest them and get them into your cellar, with your eye on completing the wine order cards you have in your hand. These are how you will earn most of the victory points in the game, though the visitor cards and other bonuses can add up. First player to 20 triggers the end of the game, but in close matches, that doesn’t mean they are the winner by default – things happen quickly in the winter!

The game is just striking on the table, with all the little wooden pieces – the worker meeples, the buildings, the droplets for the wine – even the little rooster and grapes that mark your wake-up row and track the designated first player.

The game includes a solo mode (like most Stonemaier Games) with an Automa deck that works against you each season to block certain spots. The Automa starts at 20 and you have 7 years to try to surpass them. It’s a challenging mode, as the randomness of the cards can make the Automa seem omniscient at times, blocking every move you wanted to make! Other times, you luck out and they land on spaces you had no intention of using anyway.

I have purchased the Tuscany expansion, which is unanimously praised by fans of the game, along with Viticulture World, which has co-operative play rather than versus, along with a new solo mode! I haven’t got those to the table just yet though, as I am refining my knowledge of the base game without the invisible hand of BGA to guide me. But I am VERY satisfied with this purchase and I already have a game night planned in my head where my friends and I sip some wine while playing.

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