If there’s one thing people know about me, it’s that I love my wine. A crisp glass of sauvignon blanc paired with some delicious, aged cheddar catapults me right into my happy place. So naturally, when Greg asked if I wanted to play Viticulture — a game that revolves around making wine — I was more than interested in playing.
Next thing you know he was pulling out five different piles of cards, countless pieces, and flipping through 589032852385 pages of rules. What on earth had I signed myself up for?
I’m not going to lie, Viticulture seems super complicated at first—at least to someone like me who primarily gravitates towards social games that can be learned in all of five minutes. In fact, I probably wouldn’t have made it through the learning curve of this one had it not given me an excuse to drink at 2pm on a Sunday but, alas, it did. Once you get the hang of it though, it’s INSANELY fun. Actually, it’s one of my favourite games to play with Greg, hands down.
How the Game Works (in the words of a non-gamer)
Basically, to win the game you need to get to 20 points or higher before your opponent. The main way you get points is by filling wine orders. So, you’ll pick up a purple card that says, “You need to make 3 white wines and 2 reds in order to get 6 points,” and then you gotta do what you gotta do to make that happen—from start to finish of the wine process.
The first thing you’d have to do is plant the vines. The kicker here is that some wines require different structures in order for you to plant them like an irrigation system or a trellis, which costs money. Then, you need to harvest the grapes. Next, you have to turn the grapes into wine. When you have the necessary wines in your cellar to fill an order for a customer, you can get those precious points. The thing is, you only have a certain number of “workers” who can do all this stuff for you (planting, harvesting, etc.). You can train more, but it costs money. So really, winning relies on a few components: having enough money to do stuff, having enough workers to fill out your tasks, and making enough wine to fill orders.
There are also visitors that come to your vineyard, which is great because they help you out and screw your opponent over sometimes. A visitor might come who’s like, “I WANT ALL YOUR WINE” and suddenly you’re able to fill three orders or something, which is pretty awesome and then your opponent starts freaking out.
Likes & Dislikes
The main thing I like is that it gives me an excuse to drink wine. Secondly, I love that it provides some (super simple) insights into the wine-making process. Thirdly, there are a ton of different strategies you can use to win. For example, you can either pay to build a cottage—which allows you to bring more visitors to your vineyard and get different perks—or you might instead choose to focus on training more workers to get more sh*t done in a day. There are tons of different methods.
I also love that there’s a balance between strategy and fun. Frankly, games that rely too much on strategy make my head hurt, and after a long day I like playing board games that help me unwind, not make me frustrated!
I will admit though, Viticulture was overwhelming to learn at first. If you’re a non-gamer, seeing so many different pieces and rules can be really daunting. My advice in this case is just to go slowly, learn with someone who’s patient (thank you, Greg), play several open-hand rounds, and, and drink your way through the learning process.
Lastly, I will say that this game takes 1 – 2 hours to play so it’s quite the commitment. It’s definitely not a game you’d bust out when you’re looking for some quick, easy fun; there’s definitely a degree of strategy to it and you have to be in the mood to really sit and play.
Despite some of the drawbacks, Viticulture is one of my favourite games. It’s a great hybrid of entertainment and strategy while providing many methods of winning so no game feels the same as the last. Cheers!!!