Finally played with Tuscany last night. As soon as @trentellingsen started explaining the different aspects of the new board, my head started spinning its wheels thinking about the new possibilities haha. I love how non-linear the strategy options are now and the new mechanics around the sleep/wake-up cycle is such a game changer.
Couple of thoughts below:
- The wake-up time bonuses and the mechanics of retrieving your workers at the end of the year: Love it. Feels like each wake-up time comes with enough incentive that makes up for the later turn. I also like that you get a bonus as each season comes around so that you can bank on getting a good plant or visitor card so that you're not completely reliant on using your workers to do certain actions in a season. There are additional incentives to consider waking up later too--an opponent who uses all of their workers earlier than you will essentially "head home" at the end of winter and open up all of the spaces that their workers had occupied, so it's not just a simple matter of saving up your grande worker for carrying out crucial actions in the later seasons (a grande worker is able to carry out actions in an area that's already fully occupied by others' workers).
- The star placement on the map: I didn't get an explanation on how the stars and the map concept fits in thematically with the rest of the game, so it felt out of place in comparison to the overall highly thematic nature of the game. The double star placement action space in Spring with the bonus feels like one of the best options to get a head start in the first year. I also like how it serves as a mini game of area control to get end of the game victory points.
- Luck: My goodness, I just don't have a good relationship with the red grapes. In all of my past games of Viticulture (including this one), I always end up getting zero red grape cards until around the 3rd or 4th year or so. Tuscany has a spot where you can use your workers to trade for resources so I relied on that to get red grapes in my 3rd year in return for sacrificing victory points. Even without Tuscany though, while it can make things super difficult, I still like that the randomness is thematically appropriate.
- The general trend with Viticulture EE (at least in my group) has been that toward the last few years, players are done building their engine and does very little during the spring and summer seasons so that they can make full use of their workers for harvesting and making wine/fulfilling orders during fall/winter. Tuscany seems to balance things out a bit where it adds just the right amount of options so that each season has significance as the years pass.
If you're wondering, I'm the orange in the picture and Trent is the yellow (purple is Trent's wife and green is a new friend of ours). I knew he was trying to finish the game so I tried to maximize VP's and was able to make a great run in the last year starting from 10 and finishing at 23 (I was the last to finish so you can see all other workers have gone home). Overall, now I can say from experience that Tuscany really is a must :)
[Viticulture: Essential Edition, Tuscany: Essential Edition]