Archive for April, 2015


April 3, 2015

The past three weeks I have played my newest Euro, Viticulture with the Bistro Players.  My general assessment is that Viticulture is a good game!

I have not been buying many NEW games of late.  Mostly I have been buying older out-of-print games.  But somehow Viticulture got on my radar.  Turns out that the newest edition of Viticulture is recently released.  This meant I was able to buy an older 1st edition (2013) copy for a very reasonable price.

Opening the game, I was initially a bit confused.  I had quite a large number of wooden pieces, including a 1st edition expansion, and a slightly mysterious “Upgrade Pack”.  All these extra pieces, along with various slips of paper with rules scattered across them, left me confused.  But I had mostly read through it all when the first game night opportunity came about.

The first play was the roughest.  Viticulture can support up to 6 players.  And that is what we had…  This was a mistake, as the game ran 3.5 hours with teaching.  5 of the players still rated it a “Good” game.  But Zack was done, rating it “Poor”.  Still, I found myself wanting to try it with fewer players.  Also, I was concerned with the large number of meeples each player had to use.

After the first session, I doubled down on my research.  Indeed, we had played with too many meeples.  Turns out the 1st edition gave you 6 meeples per player, and then added a “Grande” meeple to be used in addition with the “Arboriculture” expansion.  With the second edition rules, (which we used), the mix is different – just 5 regular meeples, along with the Grande meeple.  I take some pride in at least not handing out the extra Grande meeple I got with the upgrade pack.  I have now tucked away the 12 extra meeples (2 per color) provided in the game box.

Fortunately that was the only rules gaffe.  We had played the rules correctly.  Even though the initial game went much longer than I wanted, I appreciated the strong attachment of actions to theme.  You plant vines – give tours – receive visitors – build structures – harvest fields – crush grapes – fill wine contracts.  This game makes internal sense.

So armed with the proper number of meeples, and fewer players we played again, this time with 3 players.  Voila!  A 90-minute game.  Much better, and I began to see that there are a few different strategies to try.  Another week, and again another 3-player, 90-minute game (with teaching).

I am happy with this purchase, and it has cleared past the 3-game barrier.  So often new games don’t endure for me for more than 3 games.  I’m looking forward to bringing to the Monday night gamers, and see what they make of it.