Viticulture Essential Edition is a worker placement game for 1-6 players. Players are making and selling different kinds of wine.
Viticulture Essential Edition is a new edition by Feuerland Spiele that combines many elements of the expansion Tuscany with the base game Viticulture that were published by Stonemaier Games.
In the game players collect white and red grapes of different kinds, buy buildings, get more workers, attract visitors and ultimately create and sell wine. Players need to enlarge their cellar to create more precious wines and let their wines age. By fulfilling wine orders players obtain victory points and increase their income. The wine orders ask for a specific kind of wine (red, white, rosé, champagne) with a minimum age.
Viticulture Essential Edition is a worker placement game in which the actions are split into summer and winter actions. Players need to decide how many of their workers they want to use in the summer and how many in the winter. Each round starts off with an innovative turn order mechanic where players take turns choosing a benefit but the better benefits result in being later in turn order. The game ends after a player reaches 20 victory points.
The game looks absolutely gorgeous and the game material is fantastic. There are beautiful custom wooden pieces like a bottle or a rooster. The theme is very accessible and family friendly. The complexity is not very high, it is a medium weight worker placement euro game. Despite its low complexity the game has a good depth due to the split into summer and winter actions and the different kinds of wines that require enlarged cellars and sometimes a certain combination of grapes (for rosé you need red and white grapes). The turn order mechanic is simply brilliant and a lot of fun.
I have a few minor complaints, though. The core mechanics that are also thematically very relevant, namely the creation of wines and the aging, do feel fairly unthematic. The reason is that when you harvest your field and it contains several grapes of the same kind, they add up and you end up with grapes of a higher value. Furthermore, these grapes age each round which does not make sense. When you create wine you need to mix red and white grapes to get rosé (which is wrong but I’m ok with that one). But again does not make sense is that you need to enlarge the cellar to create more precious wines or rosé or champagne or simply to be able to let your wines age more. So age, amount and capacity is kind of mixed together which feels unthematic.
What bugs me more though, is that the management of your hand cards (visitor cards) is absolutely crucial for victory. You draw all cards randomly so this introduces a substantial luck factor.
So overall the game Viticulture Essential Edition is very solid. I would enjoy the game a lot more if the luck factor were smaller (for instance choosing among 2-3 grape or wine cards would help a lot) and if the making of wine would be more important and thematic. If you like lighter euro games with some luck you should definately check it out.