Board game reviews, strategy tips & session reports
No. of players: 2-6
Amount of time to play: 90-120 min
Age requirements: 10+
Set-up time: minimal
Viticulture is a worker placement game about wine making. You must plant, harvest and crush the grapes to fulfill wine orders and score VPs.
Viticulture takes place over the four seasons of the year. You start the game with three workers, one vine card, a summer visitor card and three lira.
During different seasons, different actions are available to you. In the Spring you determine player order. The earlier you choose to wake up and start working the earlier in the round you go. But waking up later can gain you some nice benefits like one lira, a VP, or even an extra worker for the year.
Summer is full of activity. You can plant grapes, give tours, sell grapes, play your summer visitor cards or build structures on your winery. You need to plant grapes in order to harvest and crush the grapes later. Giving tours and selling grapes get you more money. Visitors have a wide variety and some are more helpful than others. Building and upgrading structures on your farm enables you to grow different grapes, store better wine and score VPs for planting and giving tours.
Fall brings visitors to help you with your work. You draw one visitor from either the summer deck or winter deck.
In the Winter you harvest, crush grapes, get new or fill wine orders, play a winter visitor or train new workers. Harvesting grapes moves them to your crush pad. Different grapes have different colors and values. When they are crushed they go to your crush pad on the corresponding number and color. From there you can crush them into wine. The value of blush or sparkling wines is greater as they combine the values of the grapes used to make them. These wines are used to fill orders and score VPs. The harder the order is to fill the more points you score. You also get some residual income for filling an order.
At the end of each year your grapes and wine age gaining more value, you collect your residual income, you collect your workers and you must discard down to seven cards.
Once one player reaches 20 VPs it signals the end of the game. You finish out that year and the player with the most VPs wins. The max number of VPs is 25 and if two or more players have 25 than the one with the most lira wins.
Viticulture has a strong theme and familiar worker placement mechanics. And though it doesn’t bring a lot of new, innovative mechanics to the genre it is fun and unique.
The components are top-notch. Each structure you can build has its own wooden token. The cards, board and rules all look great. When I was playing this at the local game store many people stopped to look at it, say it looked nice and asked what it was. The rules are easy to read and there are plenty of examples.
I like wine and this game is about making wine. You can even drink wine while you play it. So the theme is fun and ingrained in the actions you can take. I am not overly familiar with the process but the steps in the game seem to make sense.
Spring is also pretty cool. I like how getting cards, money or VPs could have you going later in the turn order for the year. As the game goes on going early can be more and more important.
The game also has a nice way of ramping up. You start building, planting and once you get your engine going you are harvesting and filling orders.
The game is not flawless though. The rulebook is well-written, but there are lots of little rules to remember. I played wrong a couple times before getting everything right. Also the visitors add to the replay value of the game but some can be very powerful if you get them at the right time. The game is also better with three or more than with just two.
Viticulture is a fun, beautiful, worker placement game. It scales well from three to six players. If you enjoy worker placement games you should try out Viticulture.
Score and synopsis: (Click here for an explanation of these review categories.)
Strategy 5 out of 6
Luck 4 out of 6
Player Interaction 4 out of 6
Replay Value 4 out of 6
Complexity 4 out of 6
Fun 5 out of 6
Overall 5 out of 6