My First Time Playing Viticulture with Tuscany

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Gameplay

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:

  1. 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).
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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 :)

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Supporter11 months ago

Yes!  So glad you got to play it with Tuscany, soooo good.  Have you had the chance to use the Rhine Valley Visitors yet?

I love the extra options and doing things each season.  I like that you have two spots to build so if you can wait till the Fall because someone took the bonus spot you can do that.  I like the Stars but agree it doesn't make much sense.  I supposed you could look at it as the regions being aware of your winery and demanding your wine.  I think one of the best features is the trade card feature.  It can really help mitigate a bad grape to wine order scenario (ie, all red grapes, all white wines).

I totally try to jump on the two star placement early on as well.  Im also a big fan of going early so I usually forgo the better bonuses so I can wake up earlier.  Maybe it's because I'm naturally a morning person?  Ha!


Supporter11 months ago

It was a long session (went around 2.5 hours including rule explanation--we had a friend who is completely new to Viticulture, let alone games of this complexity level)--but it was a lot of fun! Still haven't done the Rhine Valley Visitors yet but I remember you mentioning about it. 

Definitely like that you don't have to feel terrible seeing other players take up all of the spots you want like in Viticulture EE. Like you said, there are sooo many more options now. And I agree, I was thinking similarly about the concept of the stars (I tried to do a quick google search for some background on the stars but got nothing. I'm guessing the rulebook explains it?). As for bad grapes... I'm sure a day will come when I'll be able to start out with a card with both white and red grapes, and I'll know that everything in the past has been to stretch my strategy muscle lol

I'm not a morning person. Nice that I can at least pretend hahaha

Supporter11 months ago

That is very interesting. 

Supporter11 months ago

Yes it is! haha I'm sure we'll end up talking about it for a bit on the next podcast

11 months ago

This was a great explanation and helpful!  I've added the upgrade pack to my list now and look forward to trying this some day.

Supporter11 months ago

If you like VEE, Tuscany is awesome.

Supporter11 months ago

I’m glad you got to play with both! In your opinion, if someone didn’t have a great experience with.m Viticulture the base game, does Tuscany make it better or just more?

Supporter11 months ago

I've been out all weekend.  Tuscany definitely serves in my opinion the purpose of an expansion.  To expand the experience of the game.  Although I will still play the base game sometimes Tuscany adds a lot of fun to the game.  I know I really enjoy the opportunity to trade cards out for other cards to mitigate the luck in the draw.  It still slows you down but not as much.  I had Viticulture for almost 18 months and played probably 20 times before I picked up Tuscany.  Since I bought Tuscany I've played with that board 3 times and with the base board 3 times.

Supporter11 months ago

Thanks for the info. I’m thinking I want to see if I can get my group to like the game before investing in Tuscany. The base game is solid.

Supporter11 months ago

Yes, definitely--as @sdirrane mentioned, the base game is solid and I had a lot of fun with it. If your group ends up liking the base game then you won't regret getting Tuscany EE.

Supporter11 months ago

Good deal. Here’s to trying. I’ve brought it the last few times and haven’t gotten takers yet

Supporter11 months ago

They just don’t know what they are missing out on!

Supporter11 months ago

I think it would really depend on that person's reason behind not enjoying the base game.

  • If it's about the theme, then there's really no saving it haha
  • If it's about the luck of the draws or how limited your options can be when other players' workers keep filling up your desired spots, then Tuscany does a whole lot to mitigate this in terms of offering additional paths/options
  • Overall, Tuscany EE streamlines the experience/takes out some of the "bugs" while adding a lot more depth in strategy

Supporter11 months ago

Thanks! I think it was just overwhelm for them at learning worker placement for the first time. I want to give it another try. I have the metal coins and first player marker so I'm hoping its a winner the second time around. 

Supporter11 months ago

Honestly, this keeps it just a little too low on my wish list, because I keep on hearing that Tuscany is a must. This makes the game a time and a half as expensive. 

Supporter11 months ago

I can see what you mean. If Viticulture EE and Tuscany EE had been presented as a single game with the sum of their price tags (~$60-65), I think most people wouldn't have minded too much paying for that given the high rating it has gotten (I feel like there are lots of games out there around that price tag that fall shorter than these two in). As separate packages, it could make people feel like they got a broken game and need to pay again for a fix. I think I would've felt that way if I had gotten the original Viticulture even before the EE because I've heard it was quite problematic.

I personally enjoyed Viticulture EE a lot and wouldn't have minded not having Tuscany. With that said, if I had maybe 15-30 games under my belt and every game consisted of wrestling with my resources due to bad draws, my feelings toward the game might have changed. Now that I know how Tuscany works, though, I would definitely play with it if possible.

Supporter11 months ago

I mean I spent about $60 - 65 total for both VEE and TEE.  So I see it as, what's the difference?  One big game for 65 or two small games for 65?  Also, some people might be more casual with VEE so why make them get more than they need or want.  This is one of the things that attracted me to The Great Wall.  Why make me get minis?  It's awesome that I have the choice.  You can have a great time with VEE by itself.  Especially if you are more of a casual gamer.  

Supporter11 months ago

If I were to try and see from others' perspectives, I think one part that is potentially misleading/off-putting is the label "essential". Just looking around the different communities, there were a lot of past discussions where people wanted clarifications on what the differences are across all of the different Viticulture editions as well as the differences between Tuscany and Tuscany EE. It's great for fans of the game to see continued support for the game they love, but for those who are completely new to Viticulture and seeing these titles thrown around, I think the string of games Viticulture, Viticulture EE, Tuscany, and Tuscany EE could draw out the reaction of "why the need for these essential editions?". As for me, I think I would've felt at least some level of frustration if I had started out with the first edition of Viticulture and Tuscany and then ended up seeing the essential editions released. That would've be a bummer, although I might be speaking without much background knowledge on the history of the game's development/release.

As for why the need for Tuscany, I share similar sentiments as you. My guess is that @Marshwiggle92's reaction was more of a response to his impression of all these "essential" editions than a commentary on the need for Tuscany/an expansion. I think Tuscany EE was as solid an expansion as any could be out there that brings in so much content for a very reasonable price (feel free to chip in Chris if I misunderstood you).

Lastly--I really hope Anna (my wife) enjoys Viticulture EE so that we can add on Tuscany EE some day lol

Supporter11 months ago

Yeah, I never really focused on that word.  To me it was basically Viticulture 2.0.  I do know that both of the "essential" games are missing quite a bit from the original so I think some people with the original might not even be interested in the EE.  I'm not sure why they chose that word, maybe it was just the best way to differentiate it.  It was in SM's opinion the most important aspects from the original game maybe?  But I definitely did not buy VEE and start playing it under the impression that Tuscany would "need" to be bought at some point. 

Supporter11 months ago

Exactly. I just do not like "essential" expansions. It feels like I shouldn't have to pay for the game, and then pay to make it good. I would rather pay more upfront and have the final game that I can then add too if I so desire.

Supporter11 months ago

I feel the need to jump in and defend Viticulture here.  I did say essential for Rhine Valley and maybe I should have said essential for me.  Having said that, the reason I eventually bought the Tuscany was because I loved Viticulture so much.  But it is an awesome game just in the base game.  I will even play the base game every once and while even though I own Tuscany.  But Tuscany is an awesome awesome expansion.

And isn't that the point of expansions?  Shouldn't they make the game so much better, and make it so good you want everyone to enjoy it?  Otherwise an expansion is just to make more money.  It should expand the experience of the game for me.  So much so that I love it and call it "essential".

I hope that makes sense.  At the end of it all, Viticulture is an awesome game all by itself.

Supporter11 months ago

Thanks for your defense. Yes, it does make sense. I haven't played VEE and I still want too with our without Tuscany. 

About "essential expansions" I sometimes I play an expansion and I feel like it completes a game. I really really don't like this. If it finishes a game it should have been in the game to start with, no matter how fun the game is without it. This is even worse if there is obvious that there are expansions that you aren't playing with. For instance, I love Scythe. It is my current favorite game of all time. But every time I play it, it grinds my gears just a little bit to see those two home bases for factions I can only get in an expansion. If it was important enough to put on the main board it is important enough to put in the base game. 

But, sometimes the expansions add content, as in Dominion or they turn the gameplay one way or another as in the many Catan expansions. I love the Cities and Knights expansion for Catan. I don't really like Catan. But cities and Knights fundamentaly change Catan. It doesn't feel like "this is how the base game should have been." The base game feels complete, not great, but complete. 

I don't know which camp Tuscany falls into. So, I don't want to penalize VEE to heavily. And, I want to give props to Jamey for allowing first edition viticulture owners to upgrade to EE for a pretty small price. This is far far better than many publishers who force you to buy the second edition of you want the "correct" edition. 

Supporter11 months ago

Yeah, I don't think Tuscany is needed to have a great experience with VEE.  Because Viticulture is my #2 game (about), I was drawn to expanding that experience.  But some games I don't feel the draw even though I really like them.  Western Legends is a good example of this.  I'm happy with the base game and that's enough for me.  I know some people prefer the base VEE over Tuscany and some people are happy just with the base game.  I don't think Tuscany is necessary.

Supporter11 months ago

Great review! Thanks. Now I really do need to add this one to my collection. Not thanks. 

I do think it would be incredible to play some games with you guys. Since we see one aspect of personalities here on the forums it would be interesting to interact on a different level. 

Supporter11 months ago

Well you still have Spirit Island--unless, you win another giveaway?? That'll be a story to tell hahaha

It would be a lot of fun. I hope we can make it happen even if it's a small one. I can already see those booths for Star Wars, Viticulture, Root, Champions of Midgard, etc!

Supporter11 months ago

We need a BGA Con.

I think we need to make a Star Wars Viticulture Crossover... maybe in the Spice Mines of Kessel, or running a Mos Eisley Cantina, haha.

Supporter11 months ago

BGA con would be fun :)

Supporter11 months ago

Hahahah that would be fun. We definitely have some big support for Star Wars and Viticulture. Then there's also the love for Root and Raiders of the North Sea from several others :)

Supporter11 months ago

I loooove playing with all the modules in Tuscany. I think the stars have to do with your vineyard's prestige/reputation in Italy. Such a fun game.

Supporter11 months ago

Yesss I really like it. It ups the fun of the game by a whole lot and I'm looking forward to seeing how Viticulture EE will go with my wife even more now (so that we can upgrade in the future haha)