A decade since its debut, Viticulture continues to be a steadfast presence within the realm of worker placement games. With a mix of strategy, theme, and interaction, it has cemented its place in the hearts of many board gamers. Now, adding a refreshing spin to the established formula, comes Viticulture World. This expansion transforms the classic competitive gameplay into a cooperative adventure, challenging players to unite in their quest for winemaking glory. Let’s explore what this new rendition has to offer.
1-6 players, ages 14+
Playing time: 75-95 minutes
Designers: Mihir Shah & Francesco Testini
Artwork: Andrew Bosley
Publisher: Stonemaier Games
Viticulture World invites players to step into the shoes of a winemaking family. Here, one must balance the management of their own vineyard with efforts to gain influence within the region. The victory conditions for the selected region are twofold: each player must reach 25 victory points, and the shared influence token needs to reach the end of the influence track. All players either triumph together or, unfortunately, fail as a unit.
🍇 Utilizing the new game board, tiles, tokens, and event cards along with the original vineyard mats and game cards, the gameplay spans six years. These are divided into spring, summer, fall, and winter seasons. There are seven unique continent decks, presenting scenarios that vary in difficulty, thereby catering to different player preferences and skill levels.
🌸 In the spring season, players prepare for the year ahead. An event card is revealed, introducing new rules for the year. Subsequently, the old innovation tiles are discarded, and new ones take their place. The players also decide on their wake-up positions, which helps determine the player order for the summer and winter worker-placement rounds.
👥 The worker placement system of Viticulture World slightly modifies that of the core game. Bonuses on action spaces aren’t present at the game’s onset. Instead, they are added during the game through oval innovation tiles. Seasonal workers are introduced and can be placed during their respective seasons. Moreover, only trained workers, who can be placed in both summer and winter, are eligible to gain these bonuses.
☀️ As summer arrives, players in turn order can place a worker on a summer action or pass. Most actions bear similarities to those in the core game. However, there are a few unique ones, such as “pay one to gain one” and “innovate.” The innovate action allows players to permanently enhance a summer or winter action, which could significantly impact the game’s flow.
🍂 When a player passes during summer, it marks the transition into fall. Players then move their roosters to the corresponding inner ring position on the wake-up chart and select a benefit from the options available. If a player owns a cottage, an additional visitor card can be drawn.
❄️ Winter comes next. Players have the choice to place a worker on a winter action or pass, much like in summer. A significant aspect of winter is the “train a worker” action. By paying a fee, players can upgrade a regular worker into a trained worker, enhancing their versatility and ability to gain bonuses.
🍷 Year-end steps are executed as soon as a player passes during winter. At the close of Year 6, it’s time to check if the victory conditions have been met. If each player’s victory point token is at 25 or above and the influence token has reached the end of the influence track, then all players rejoice in collective success. If these conditions aren’t met, all players share the setback.
Viticulture World, a cooperative worker placement game conceived by Mihir Shah and Francesco Testini, adds an interesting cooperative twist to the beloved Viticulture. As an expansion, it requires a base copy of Viticulture to play. Continuing the visual charm of its predecessors, the artwork by Andrew Bosley enhances the allure of the gameplay.
🌍 This expansion introduces seven unique continent decks, presenting scenarios of varying difficulty levels, from beginner-friendly to advanced. Each deck features its own set of cards, offering thematic narratives that subtly alter the gameplay. These modifications may introduce new worker placement spots or provide bonuses for certain actions in a specific year.
🤝 Viticulture World is not a walk in the vineyard. Players need to fully engage the newly introduced trading mechanism to collaborate effectively. This innovative feature gets triggered when a player places their ‘grande worker’ on an action, creating an opportunity to trade with another player whose worker shares the same action spot. The trading options encompass currency, grapes, wine, and vine or wine order cards.
🧩 A delightful addition to the gameplay is the innovation tiles, available in two types. Rectangular tiles enhance the available actions, while oval tiles introduce bonuses. Interestingly, action spaces lack bonuses at the start. However, with the placement of oval innovation tiles, any player can access those spots unlimited times without blocking others. But remember, only trained workers can benefit from these bonuses.
🏹 Strategic placement of innovation tiles and upgrading workers to increase versatility seem critical for victory. While the luck of the draw plays a role in the order of innovation tiles, placing these tiles promptly appears vital. Good communication between winemakers and smart trade-offs are other essential aspects to consider.
⏳ Each action taken holds significant weight, pushing players towards efficient play. The margin for error is slim, considering the short six-year timeframe to achieve the objectives. Winning certain scenarios often necessitates multiple playthroughs, adding to the challenge. Particularly at a two-player count, achieving victory is quite a feat.
🌱 To address this, Stonemaier Games has released the Viticulture World: First Game Continent Promo Pack. This pack includes an optional seventh event card that can extend the game by an extra year, providing a bit more breathing room for players.
🍷 In conclusion, Viticulture World is a commendable expansion that brings fresh dynamics to a familiar game. Its cooperative approach and new gameplay mechanics make it a strong recommendation for Viticulture enthusiasts and fans of challenging cooperative games. With the right group of players, the game promises a richly engaging experience. It’s a new flavor added to the Viticulture saga, successfully maintaining the game’s enduring appeal.
*Disclaimer: We received a review copy from the publisher.