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Subject: Shut Up & Sit Down review Viticulture rss

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Joshua H
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Full review text here.

Quinns is generally positive ("the game's really very good", "The decisions are finely tuned enough that you’re constantly torn between two decisions, even if it's just picking the space you really want and the space you reckon everybody wants.") but has some harsh words for the custom art ("There’s not a visitor in this game who, in real life, wouldn't have you turning off all the lights and peeking from behind the curtains.") and thinks that the grande workers skew the balance of the game away from being overly constrained to saying "it also means that the single teaspoon of adrenaline the genre had is siphoned out of it."

Final verdict: If you buy games regularly, it's "a fine game, made with love" that you'll probably enjoy, although he does recommend some other games for those who only buy games rarely.

Still, happy to see that they're generally positive on the game, since I missed the first kickstarter. But it also reinforces my desire to see custom art pledges go the way of KS exclusive rewards.
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Joshua H
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Jamey,

It's difficult for me to give a fair answer to that, both because I know that it's custom art (which is, to me, associated with weird, goofy looking illustrations, and inherently introduces bias on my part) and because there's no basis of comparison (profiles created by the artist without constraint). Attempting to look at it objectively:

The Taster is fine. Kinda smug, which is appropriate. He does feel a bit disconnected from the wine he's holding; it almost seems like someone else is holding it out to him.
The Grower is unremarkable, although she looks like she's scheming something.
The Organizer is really good; I love the use of light, and otherwise the art doesn't appear out of place.
The Sponsor is guest-starring on CSI: Tuscany.

And really, that's kind of why I wish it wasn't a thing: you end up making a few dozen people really happy, and for the other 99% of backers (and all retail buyers) you're at best creating art that's as good as what you'd do anyway, and at worst sticks out to the retail buyer and/or to reviewers who say unkind things about the people you've put in your game.

Everything else that you get to add with Kickstarter makes the game better for all of the backers (and now, everyone); when my Collector's Edition shows up, it'll have little mafioso and merchant meeples, and they'll be cute and memorable. Tuscany will have more content in the box because the campaign is going well, and that'll be fun to dig into.

Meanwhile, the best I can hope for when I put those games on the table is that the people blend in with the rest of the art. Nobody at my table is going to care about who the model was, unless the result is that the cards look funny.

It's a look that can work for Flying Frog; if LNOE looks like a direct-to-video movie starring the director's college friends, that's almost appropriate. I don't know that it works anywhere else. And just like how I don't have to apologize to my friends that their retail copy of Euphoria will never be as cool as mine, I'd like to not have to explain, "Yeah, it's a Kickstarter game, so it looks funny because that's a backer."
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J. M. Lopez-Cepero "CP"
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Fauxreigner wrote:
Quinns (...) thinks that the grande workers skew the balance of the game away from being overly constrained to saying "it also means that the single teaspoon of adrenaline the genre had is siphoned out of it."


I personally find that quite off base as a criticism, although to each his own.

Viticulture has basically two races going on. The first race is the summer race - get money, build buildings, plant vines. This is more prevalent in the early stages of the game. The second race is the winter race - harvest, plant, fill orders, which takes over towards the end.

Each of these races has a multiple step cadence, and you will generally want to do their steps in a particular order - specially for the winter one, as everybody scrounges frantically to get their ducks in a row for profitable orders. Often you'll find yourself locked into an specific course of action - you absolutely need to harvest to have the grapes to make the kind of wine you will use later to fill the order - so having the harvest or make wine step blocked and no way to access the actions is devastating in practice. This was particularly prevalent in 2P games.

So it's not like the Grande is a magic bullet - each "big" scoring action in Viticulture is the result of a long chain of actions. The Grande by itself is not nearly enough to warrant you a free pass to 6VP wine order land, but at least gives you a guarantee that you'll be able to advance one step of the chain without the huge loss of tempo that being stalled for a full season entails. It also allows you to fill a last order during the final winter of the game, which is fairer to the players than having all spaces blocked when their turns come and having to let the wine rot in the cellars.
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Eddie the Cranky Gamer
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I've been wondering about the Grande in a similar way. If I can always get the action I need, doesn't that really undermine the tension?
 
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Joshua H
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apotheos wrote:
I've been wondering about the Grande in a similar way. If I can always get the action I need, doesn't that really undermine the tension?


I haven't gotten a chance to play, but my understanding is that it isn't "always", it's "once per round." So you can be slowed down significantly, you just can't be completely stopped.
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Jamey Stegmaier
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"Yeah, it's a Kickstarter game, so it looks funny because that's a backer."

We're definitely not aiming for that--the artist is working with the card abilities as she creates the art to make sure that doesn't happen.
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Holger Doessing
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Fauxreigner wrote:
apotheos wrote:
I've been wondering about the Grande in a similar way. If I can always get the action I need, doesn't that really undermine the tension?


I haven't gotten a chance to play, but my understanding is that it isn't "always", it's "once per round." So you can be slowed down significantly, you just can't be completely stopped.

This. thumbsup I've only ever played with the Grande worker, and the games have never felt like multiplayer solitaire; you only have 1 grande and you'll typically want to save him until you really need him. Besides, whoever gets somewhere first always takes the bonus spot, and those bonuses are usually very good and contested, so there's still a fair amount of blocking. The grande worker just makes you go: 'Aw damn, well now what...?' rather than get that sinking feeling when you realize that once again you will not be able to feed your family (yeah, Agricola, I'm looking at you!).
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Joshua H
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jameystegmaier wrote:
"Yeah, it's a Kickstarter game, so it looks funny because that's a backer."

We're definitely not aiming for that--the artist is working with the card abilities as she creates the art to make sure that doesn't happen.


I mean, I'd assume that you didn't set out to make Viticulture with the goal of, "We want reviews to joke about how weird the visitors look", and yet...

I honestly kinda feel bad continuing to talk about this, because I feel like I'm beating up on you, and I think you're a good guy who makes good games that I support. But as a fan, I also feel like your games are coming out less polished than they should be for the benefit of a few people. It's the same reason I'm happy that you're not making KS exclusive components anymore. I have no desire to make the retail copies less good than my backer copy just because I jumped on the KS; I'd rather everyone have the best possible experience.
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Richard Ham
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apotheos wrote:
I've been wondering about the Grande in a similar way. If I can always get the action I need, doesn't that really undermine the tension?


There are multiple actions every round that you *need*... the Grande only gives you guaranteed access to one of them. Which do you choose above all the others? Which do you think you can get to via other means? Which can wait till next year? Plenty of tension. I don't quite know where Quinns is coming from on this...
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Jamey Stegmaier
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Joshua: I definitely appreciate that philosophy of making the best possible product for everyone and making it available to everyone (I take it you're against KS exclusives too?) I think the best I can do is assure you that it's my goal to do exactly that.
 
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Eddie the Cranky Gamer
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jameystegmaier wrote:
"Yeah, it's a Kickstarter game, so it looks funny because that's a backer."

We're definitely not aiming for that--the artist is working with the card abilities as she creates the art to make sure that doesn't happen.


I don't think this about the abilities. It's more about the "uncanny valley" effect of having to connect your art style with real people. I have only very rarely seen it work well, Agricola comes to mind but even there you find cards that look awkward.

Given your pitch, value proposition, artist and art style there really is nothing different to be done - but I wholeheartedly agree that these cards do catch the eye in a less-than-pleasing way because of it.
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Wil
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rahdo wrote:
[q="apotheos"]There are multiple actions every round that you *need*... the Grande only gives you guaranteed access to one of them. Which do you choose above all the others? Which do you think you can get to via other means? Which can wait till next year? Plenty of tension. I don't quite know where Quinns is coming from on this...


Well said. I was about to share the same comment.

You often want/need multiple spots each round to achieve your goals. This is true in most worker placement games but possibly even more so with Viticulture as you are often performing a series of actions in a single round such as harvest, make wine tokens, and fill an order. That's three spots you *need* and a ton of tension. Even with the grande worker you might not pull it off but knowing that you have one spot you can count on makes it a lot more fun and strategic rather than frustrating.

I thought I'd share that extra comment as I find that it's a game with a great amount of tension, and best yet it has this tension at any player count. One of my favorite worker placement games actually.
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Brian Cherry
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I haven't played yet, so my question is totally ignorant: If you don't like using the Grande worker, can't you just play without it?

If so, should the Grande be a variant in the base rules?
 
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J. M. Lopez-Cepero "CP"
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the1jugg wrote:
I haven't played yet, so my question is totally ignorant: If you don't like using the Grande worker, can't you just play without it?


Sure, it used to be that way. However, if you get a 2nd edition, you'll only have 5 "regular" workers plus one Grande, and the maximum number of workers is 6. So you technically have to play with it, but can just ignore its abilities.

Quote:
If so, should the Grande be a variant in the base rules?


Gameplay with the Grande is much better than without it (both IMHO and that seems to be the consensus), so I think it's amply justified to include it. However, you can just skip using it if you want.

If you're going to be playing a lot of 2P games and really want to be convinced for yourself, play 2-3 games without the Grande and 2-3 with it and then report back whether you will even consider playing without it again For 3P+ it's not as sorely felt, but 2P is much improved. Not that 2P 1st ed Viticulture is bad, but the Grande is an awesome addition.
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Eric Hogue
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andvaranaut wrote:
For 3P+ it's not as sorely felt, but 2P is much improved. Not that 2P 1st ed Viticulture is bad, but the Grande is an awesome addition.


For 5 players, and especially for 3, it's not bad. For 4 and 6 players, things are still pretty tight without the Grande
 
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