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Viticulture» Forums » Variants

Subject: Reduce a bit of card randomness without slowing the game down rss

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Lawrence K
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With Tuscany's pending arrival the wife and I have been getting in a few games to prepare for all the new expansions. The second edition rules really help smooth out the 2-player game, however I still think there is a little too much variance in drawing random vines and orders. While the card randomness is a good way to keep the game fresh, it also leads to wasted actions. Jamey has addressed similar concerns in past threads, advising that drawing wine orders earlier and then preparing your vineyard to match can increase efficiency. He has also cautioned against using a card draft similar to Ticket to Ride, as it would make the game much more prone to AP. I offer the following variant which reduces the luck of the draw a bit without adding time:

1) Separate the red and white vines, shuffle, and place the red stack on top.
2) Separate the 1 and 2 lira orders, shuffle, and place the 1 lira order stack on top.
3) Draws may be taken from either the top or bottom of the vine and order decks.

We've only tried these changes twice so far, but we have enjoyed having a bit more control of the winemaking process by choosing between small or large orders, and then collecting the appropriate vines to fill them. The extra control may speed the game up a little, as players will be less likely to have inefficient draws.
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Eric Hogue
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Where do the Pinot grapes go?

Standard Viticulture is a game where you have to be adaptable. I think your game would be OK for a learning variant, but you're missing out on part of the experience.
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Lawrence K
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Since we've been playing 2 player, we just split the remaining four and put two in each stack.

I hear what you're saying, and understand that adaptability is important. Some people have mentioned too much variance in the value of visitors, however we have enjoyed that random part of the game, especially with the second edition updates. Unfortunately, we're experiencing that in such a short game, drawing completely random vines and orders can make or break you, similar to what ddyer has commented on before. Dividing each deck into two seems to be a reasonable step that doesn't take away too much chance.

I read over your 6 turn win in a 6-player game without filling any wine orders. I wonder if some of our issue is due to the lack of bonus spaces in the 2-player game; performing extra draws and getting a vp for selling grapes look like great options. Fewer draws make dead cards have a bigger impact, and there are a couple more dead cards in 2-player (your 5-point wedding party play couldn't happen, for example). I'm curious to see if the expanded board in Tuscany helps out.
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Eric Hogue
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Yokohama Baystar wrote:
I wonder if some of our issue is due to the lack of bonus spaces in the 2-player game; performing extra draws and getting a vp for selling grapes look like great options.


I agree that the lack of bonuses slow down the 2-playwer game.

One good variant on that is to give each player 3-4 bonus tokens. When you want/need to use a bonus, use the token.
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Morten Monrad Pedersen
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Yokohama Baystar wrote:
With Tuscany's pending arrival the wife and I have been getting in a few games to prepare for all the new expansions. The second edition rules really help smooth out the 2-player game, however I still think there is a little too much variance in drawing random vines and orders. While the card randomness is a good way to keep the game fresh, it also leads to wasted actions. Jamey has addressed similar concerns in past threads, advising that drawing wine orders earlier and then preparing your vineyard to match can increase efficiency. He has also cautioned against using a card draft similar to Ticket to Ride, as it would make the game much more prone to AP. I offer the following variant which reduces the luck of the draw a bit without adding time:

1) Separate the red and white vines, shuffle, and place the red stack on top.
2) Separate the 1 and 2 lira orders, shuffle, and place the 1 lira order stack on top.
3) Draws may be taken from either the top or bottom of the vine and order decks.

We've only tried these changes twice so far, but we have enjoyed having a bit more control of the winemaking process by choosing between small or large orders, and then collecting the appropriate vines to fill them. The extra control may speed the game up a little, as players will be less likely to have inefficient draws.


Personally I don't think that there is a problem, but such things are of course subjective. No matter what I think that your variant is a rather elegant solution.
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Lawrence K
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That's a good point, Eric. The original Grande worker rules opened it up a bit by allowing limited bonuses in the 2-player, but I do think the newer Grande rules are better overall to limit getting completely blocked out. I really think shifting just a few bonuses to the left would help out in a major way, specifically Draw Vine, Draw Order, and Sell Grapes (a mostly unused spot without the vp boost).

Now that my KS Tuscany has arrived (the metal coins are fantastic!) I've noticed that 10 of the 16 spots on the new board have the bonus available in 2-player games. Also, Jamey's strategy tip on page 11 directly addresses my concern above (what to do about lack of vine/order synergy) and offers three newly created solutions (Card Exchange, Buy Grapes, and the Sell One Wine Token action).

Looking forward to getting this to the table over the long weekend, as it seems the 2-player game is getting a nice boost, to include the Advanced Visitors that are much more evenly balanced. I'm a bit surprised that a couple of these changes weren't made to the 2nd edition of the base game, because a few would really help without adding much complexity. Then again, they probably took a little while to develop, and help make the expansion a better product and opportunity to support Stonemaier Games.
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