Pandas are great aren't they?. They're all lovely and cuddly but you know they will eat meat If it's available and in the wild will happily knock the shit out of other pandas. Viticulture looks like a gentle game but under the surface it's quite brutal. Not directly but by the dark gods by some of the most infuriating cock blocking ever to grace a board game
Viticulture is a worker placement game a little like Agricola, a little like Stone Age. It's by the same dudes that made Scythe. You spot that pretty quick when you crack it open. This is a quality game, lovely art work, lovely build quality, cracking meeples.
The game sees up to six players taking he role of a viticulturist growing grapes, harvesting them, making wine, fulfilling wine orders and hopefully outscoring your fellow players. It's pretty straightforward.
Turns are split into seasons. In spring you choose a spot on the wake up list (turn order) go early and you get to play first, a very advantageous thing to do. The later you decide to go the more rewards you get in the form of money, cards and if you're particularly tardy an extra worker. Top marks on the choice of rooster as the meeple for this. In no way did my gaming group make jokes around this Every turn.
Summer opens up a number of options for gathering seedlings, planting vines, building your own infrastructure and getting helpful visitors to come and help out.
You start with three fields each capable of supporting a limited amount of vines. The better quality grapes require things like trestles and irrigation. The cheaper ones will thrive anywhere. Picking the right grape type is important to your overall strategy. All have pluses and minuses.
Visitors come in the form of cards which with a worker on the play card spot lets you execute it. Visitors give you actions sometimes with a cost that allow you to carry out a season related action without having to grab one of the limited worker placement spots. Speaking of which spots are limited on the board and the first ones (depending on numbers) give you a little bonus. Going first is quite important. It's a case of waking late and getting a bonus now or early and getting it later when you place a worker. The essential edition adds the grande worker he can jump on a spot already occupied but you only get one of them so choose carefully.
Fall/Winter sees you harvesting grapes. Making wine and fulfilling wine orders. This is where you make a decent amount of score and the better quality wine gives you more points
Viticulture is one of those games that's more than the sum of its parts. It's really really good. The horror of seeing a spot you need taken and you missing out on a move for a round is like a gut punch. Make sure you're the one dishing it out. The game is so well polished. It oozes class. The artwork is bang on the game's footprint is perfect. Game length is bang on. This is pure entertainment in a box.
I'm going to have my copy at Knavecon and I recommend a look if you haven't tried it. It's sat on my shelf for months now and I'm so glad I took it down to play it. Great game. Go play it