Kulkmann's G@mebox - www.boardgame.de

Viticulture World


Mihir Shah and Francesco Testini

Stonemaier Games

No. of Players:



G@mebox author Lutz Wildt writes about the game:

In our garden, not only do shrubs and flowers grow, but we have also planted various fruits, vegetables, and potatoes. It's delightful to observe the plants thrive and enjoy fresh fruit straight from the trees or use them to create delicious dishes. Gardening together is a lot of fun! Unfortunately, grapes don't grow in our garden, even though we love to consume them and appreciate a good glass of wine. To fill this gap, at least at the gaming table, and to celebrate the collective cultivation of grapes, I explored Viticulture World, the cooperative expansion for Viticulture by STONEMAIER GAMES. Of course, I brought it to the kitchen table while dressed in my finest gardening attire.

[Viticulture World]

Click on image to enlarge!

Viticulture World is the expansion to the very successful game Viticulture, which celebrates its 10th anniversary this year. Viticulture is about growing grapes, making wine and running a vineyard. In the basic game, the individual players try to accomplish this in competition against each other by placing their limited number of workers on the game board in the most skillful way to get the best yield. In doing so, their own workers partially block the deployment options and potential bonuses of the opposing meeple. For each step of the winemaking process, a worker must be deployed on a corresponding space in summer or winter. If this is no longer available, an alternative path must be sought. After all, vines have to be planted, grapes harvested, wine produced and, of course, sold. Since the players have to draw their available vines and wine orders as well as helpful summer and winter guests via decks of cards, a bit of luck is always part of the game. However, the better prepared they are for contingencies, the more options are available for a successful year. Here, the expansion of one's vineyard plays a crucial role. Better buildings allow for the production of higher quality wines and make it easier to grow and age the grapes. An exciting and sophisticated worker placement game, which is thematically very well embedded.

The expansion now incorporates elements from the base game while modifying and adding to them to create a cooperative version. In this version, players must work together to achieve a common goal: each player reaching 25 victory points, and the group collectively accumulating 10 influence points.

Unlike the base game, Viticulture World is played over a limited span of 6 years during which players must accomplish their objectives. These years are further divided into spring, summer, fall, and winter, with winery-related activities corresponding to each season. For example, vine planting takes place in spring, and wine production occurs in winter.

There are three fundamental changes in gameplay that significantly impact the flow of Viticulture World: the introduction of 7 different Continent Decks, Innovation Tiles, and the use of blue and yellow hats for the Workers.

[Viticulture World]

Click on image to enlarge!

The Continent Decks contain event cards, each dedicated to a specific continent on Earth. These decks provide the game with a thematic framework based on the historical context of wine growing in that particular continent.

During each year (round), one card from the Continent Deck is revealed. Depending on the type of card, certain action fields may become more affordable, or action goals are set for that round, which can result in bonus points when achieved. Occasionally, these cards may even alter the game board's appearance.

I won't reveal specific details about the events triggered by these cards to avoid spoiling the game.

Another way to influence the action spaces on the game board is through the use of Innovation Tiles, which are also a new addition. These tiles come in two variants. First, they can enhance an action (by placing a worker in the summer on the corresponding field) to make it more efficient. Second, they can expand an action space that typically has a limited capacity for workers.

Even in the cooperative version of the game, there's a limit to the number of Meeples that can be placed on action fields. While blocking opponents can be a useful tactic in the basic game, it becomes less desirable in the cooperative version, as it hinders overall effectiveness. In this version, all players are still managing their own vineyards, but they must cooperate efficiently to achieve both individual and common goals. They need to coordinate their actions effectively because the six years (turns) available do not provide unlimited time for cultivation, harvesting, and sales organization.

Although acquiring an Innovation Tile may come at a cost, it can be a worthwhile investment to adapt the game board to your advantage. In most cases, these tiles optimize the players' action options by reducing the costs of certain actions, expanding the choices of cards to draw, or even lifting restrictions on Meeples. This can be particularly helpful, especially towards the end of the game. p

[Viticulture World]

Click on image to enlarge!

Now, let's discuss the yellow and blue hats. In the base game, there are already different types of workers. Alongside the several small workers, there is a larger one that possesses a bit more power; it can be placed adjacent to an already occupied field to perform an action as well.

In Viticulture World, the small workers are transformed into seasonal workers by wearing a hat. Workers with yellow hats can only be used in summer, while those with blue hats are limited to winter. Naturally, this imposes restrictions on their usage. Fortunately, during winter, workers can undergo training for a fee. To do this, a worker must still be available and placed on the corresponding action field. After training, a worker can remove their hat and be used in both summer and winter.

As I mentioned earlier, players only have six years to achieve their goals. It requires careful consideration whether to invest in worker training or focus on vine harvesting. After all, the grape juice still needs time to mature in the cellar before reaching the right quality for sale. The years pass quickly, and it's easy to find yourself in a situation where the last worker is in the field, and you still have more tasks to complete!

[Viticulture World]

Click on image to enlarge!

Viticulture World is a fantastic cooperative expansion for Viticulture. It brilliantly preserves the excitement of the original competitive game while adapting it for cooperative play. The absence of an unpredictable opponent, which is a characteristic of the base game, is beautifully compensated for by the use of Event cards. With a total of seven Continent Decks included in the expansion, there's a wealth of variety to explore. Additionally, since each deck contains more than six cards, replaying a Continent can result in a different sequence of events due to the varied composition of cards.

There's also the inclusion of Burattino! While it may sound amusing, Burattino is the solo mode for the cooperative expansion, and it's genuinely enjoyable. This is likely because Automa Factory developed the solo mode. So, if other players cancel plans at the last minute or you simply want to venture into the vineyards alone, there's no problem at all, and it's a highly enjoyable experience.

Now, I'll return to my garden to harvest some tomatoes. But it won't be long before I find myself back in my vineyard. Let's see who will join me there!

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