Viticulture is the posh word for growing grapevines – a bit of art, and a fair bit of science.
In the challenging and good fun game that is Viticulture, players find themselves in rustic, historic Tuscany, where they’re working and managing small local vineyards. Each has inherited a few hillside fields from Mama and Papa, along with some old fashioned grape crushing pads, just one little cellar, and three workers.
Of course, everyone is trying to make a success of their inheritance, and to fend off opposition from other winemakers in the locality. It’s not going to be so easy to do that.
Probably much easier to produce Italian wines with quality well outweighing those from California or Australia 😆
Small can be beautiful!
Anyway, let’s put taste aside, and look at the game.
The game is all about planting vines, harvesting grapes, turning grapes into wines, and getting the best sales.
Each year there are four seasons: Spring, Summer, Autumn, and Winter, and each calls for quite different actions and decisions – just as you’d expect if you were running a ‘grape farm’.
First of all, everybody sets up the bare bones of their vineyard, which is done with the devoted assistance of gifts from Mama and Papa: it’s like that in Tuscany. Everyone gets a Mama and a Papa card (some of whom look almost adolescent – does wine keep you young?)
These two cards determine the basis upon which the wine producers will seek to build their estates in the coming years.
Mama, sweet thing, always makes sure you have two workers to help you along, and some Mamas even chuck in a bit of cash. Additionally, she’ll let you have some game-cards, which may bring you vines, or Summer or Winter visitors, or even orders for wines.
These will be useful at various and different stages of the game.
Papa generously throws in a ‘grande’ worker: one who’s got a bit more muscle than most. Often there’s some cash to get you going, too. Then he presents you with your first choice: of many. You either can acquire a structure to put into the vineyard, or some extra cash.
Ummmm – what’s best? Tell me, go on!
Fortunately for farmers of grapes, gluggers love to visit vineyards.
In Viticulture, visitors are willing to help out around the vineyard: some in Summer, others in Winter. Their visits – announced by visitor-cards of course 😊 – are often quite brief, but they can be very helpful.
Some may be menial, like a peddler. Others are more grand: a queen, no less! And then there are various professionals and mercantile types.
Using their cash and their workers, and taking the assistance afforded by visitors, owners expand their vineyards by building structures, planting vines, and harvesting wisely. All are aiming to create costly reds & whites, rosés, and sparklings.
And of course, the greatest rewards are likely to come from winning and fulfilling wine orders: the bigger and more splendid, the better (IF they can be met, that is!)
All seek to become the most successful small domain in Tuscany.
Oh dear, such weight falls upon one’s shoulders.
- a clever system makes it playable by just one – good fun
- seems a little bit above ‘casual, but it’s not really that deeply complicated
- it takes a while to play: but complications don’t grow
- deciding when to do what certainly might not be as easy as jumping off a log
- not a lot of setting up – lovely, simple board and nice cards
- strategic thinking develops with play
- a little bit of luck is involved, but players’ actions and decisions matter enormously
- expansions add variety (I’m told)