Viticulture Review

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Quick Look: Viticulture

Designer: Jamey Stegmaier & Alan Stone

Artists: Jacqui Davis, David Montgomery, Beth Sobel
Publisher: Stonemaier Games 
Year Published: 2013

No. of Players: 2-6
Ages: 13+
Playing Time: 90 minutes.
Find more info on BoardGameGeek.com  
This review is part of a 3-part series where I revisit some of my favorite Stonemaier titles (Scythe, Viticulture, and Wingspan) and share my impression of these signature titles. I’m a bit of a Viticulture veteran and have played it at all player counts with/without expansions, right down to the beautiful “wine crate” full edition storage crate. I’ll walk you through the basics and let you decide for yourself. As a player that is constantly playing new titles, it’s rare for me to revisit the same one multiple times. With over a dozen plays of this game, it’s one of my most played.
From the Publisher:

In Viticulture, the players find themselves in the roles of people in rustic, pre-modern Tuscany who have inherited meager vineyards. They have a few plots of land, an old crushpad, a tiny cellar, and three workers. They each have a dream of being the first to call their winery a true success.

The players are in the position of determining how they want to allocate their workers throughout the year. Every season is different on a vineyard, so the workers have different tasks they can take care of in the summer and winter. There’s competition over those tasks, and often the first worker to get to the job has an advantage over subsequent workers.
Fortunately for the players, people love to visit wineries, and it just so happens that many of those visitors are willing to help out around the vineyard when they visit as long as you assign a worker to take care of them. Their visits (in the form of cards) are brief but can be very helpful.

Using those workers and visitors, players can expand their vineyards by building structures, planting vines (vine cards), and filling wine orders (wine order cards). Players work towards the goal of running the most successful winery in Tuscany.



Initial Impression/Components:


Here is a list of the base game components:

1 box (221x272x100mm)

1 Game Board (508x406mm)
1 rulebook (multiplayer and solo)
6 Vineyard Mats
42 Vine Cards (44x67mm)
36 Wine Order Cards (44x67mm)
38 Summer Visitor Cards (44x67mm)
38 Winter Visitor Cards (44x67mm)
18 Field Cards (63x88mm)
24 Automa Cards (63x88mm)
36 Pink and Blue cards (63x88mm)
30 Wooden Worker Meeples
6 Wooden Grande Worker Meeples
48 Glass Grape and Wine Tokens
6 Wooden Wake-up Tokens
6 Wooden Victory Point Tokens
6 Wooden Residual Payment Tokens
48 Wooden Structure Tokens
72 cardboard Lira Coins

1 First-player Token



One of the most notable things in this game is its two distinctly different worker placement zones. When this game came out, it was the first time I experienced a worker placement that didn’t just have multiple zones on the board you could unlock or pay for, it had two sides that could only access specific actions based on the season. Using this a core hook, they built income and renewal/proliferation steps into the change of seasons that brought the game to a whole new level.
Least Favorite:
It can be a huge disadvantage to go later in a turn when there can only be a specific number of worker spaces available per action vs player count. They do two things to offset this: Provide a “grande” worker who can go on any action even if the space(s) are full, and allow a draft for turn order at the start of each turn. Still, I have found myself wishing for a second grande worker so often I feel it should almost be addressed. At 2 players and 6 players I think this is most noticeable.
Hand Management
Turn Order: Progressive

Worker Placement

Variable Setup
The full rulebook for Viticulture – and any other Stonemaier title – can be found in this dropbox link:
Areas they did well:
– Balanced unique starting abilities and cards
– Bidding/drafting system for turn order
– Two unique areas for worker placement actions
– Cost vs reward of actions and cards
– Variety of cards and card abilities
– Excellent component quality
– Thematic tie-in
– Proliferation and income steps
– Opening new positions on actions based on player count
– Game end trigger is based on how the game plays out and a target VP, not a set number of years/seasons
– Plays well at any player count without sacrificing experience
– Solo mode
– Good reward sharing aspects
Areas they could have improved:
– I’d like the final worker you buy to have grande powers
– I think starting with a free wine order would be a benefit for early strategy
– It could be interesting to be able to plant any vine but it only provides half the grapes until you build the structure required.
– I’ve almost always sold a field when I play and never had a need for a third.
– Can be subject to a lot of luck where it has a fair reliance on card drawing and/or what an opponent does.
– A draw 2 pick one mechanic might give the game a little more agency.
Interesting moment:
In a recent game, an opponent played the “Planner” summer visitor card. This card allowed them to place a worker in the winter season before other players had a chance to get there. As a result, they claimed the Fill action and secured themselves a guaranteed wine order, while everyone else would have to use their Grande worker if they had it still available, or a Winter visitor card that allowed a player to fill an order.  What’s more, they were set to go last in the new season and got to jump turn order for that move. It was a key play that resulted in a huge point shift. Great use of the card.
The seasonal worker and visitor idea was wonderfully executed and added to the reasons that this game is so well received. I got to admit, it isn’t perfect and I still have my frustrations with it. In fact, I’ve inwardly grumbled on the luck aspect or not having access to an action many times. But that’s all a part of it and you either got to embrace it or pass on the game altogether. I feel if you are the type of player to get bent out of shape that a random occurrence just isn’t fair or that your strategy gets derailed due to a space getting filled before you had a chance to go there, then this isn’t for you. If you can get over a few small bumps in the road and still have a smile on, then you’ll have a blast making and selling some wine!
Final Thoughts:
Whether it was intentional or a happy accident, this game has proved to be equally appealing to men and women alike that I have played with. It’s been a great intro game for me to play with my non-gaming friends who thoroughly love the theme and wine making process. It’d be a nice date or double date choice, or even a night with your family or parents. I love how games have the ability to bring people together at the table and encourage meaningful conversations and overall feeling of belonging and bonding. I think this title does that better than most and for that reason among others, I play it often.
I’ll see you next time, back here at The Game Table,
Brad Hiscock, aka Zerility
Here’s a link to their website if you’d like to check out more on Viticulture or their other titles:


After reading Brad’s review, if this sounds like a game for you at the time of this posting Viticulture is on sale in the United States for only $59. check it out and get yours HERE.

Find out more at BGG
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Brad Hiscock, aka “Zerility”, is a construction project manager and electrician by trade who was the owner of a 6-time award winning electrical company. His passion for board games has led him from playing hundreds of original titles to creating a design and publishing company of his own, Convivial Games. As an up and coming collaborator on many projects, he is always eager to try new games and meet new people.

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All of Brad Hiscock, aka “Zerility”‘s reviews can be found HERE.


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