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Subject: Mostly pinot grigio, with a touch of trebbiano blended in. rss

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Dave Wilson
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Pleasanton
California
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The evening started with a game of Attika that began just before I arrived. The four of them played for a bit, but then agreed to stop the game so I could be included. And not only that, they also gave me the additional privilege of picking out the next game. We now had five of us, so I went for a game that can play five players that we hadn't played in a long, long time: Vino. We last played it back in December of 2003. I went over the rules, and we got started.

We started with the initial draws, which gave Jim a foothold in Sardegna, and Dave in Calabria. Jeff started in Abruzzo, Alice in Veneto, and Danielle in Trentino. Dave focused early on his Pinot Grigio holdings, in both Calabria and in Toscana, and very quickly had acquired seven Pinot vineyards. This gave him a good early income. Jeff had spread his vineyards across numerous regions, so when he made his first sale, and had to lose a vineyard, he was forced to abandon one of those regions. He ended up giving up a stake in Sardegna. Jim had the initial vineyard purchase there, but his attentions were focused elsewhere, enabling Dave to buy three vineyards there and augment his trebbiano planting.

Jim and Jeff both bought modest holdings in Abruzzo, and Jim used those vineyards as his "lost vineyards" whenever he sold his trebbiano. Alice maintained a near monopoly in the Campania region, from which she sold much montepulciano wine. And Danielle focused on nebbiolo, in Lazio and Toscana. As it turned out, Toscana was the popular region in the early going, with almost everyone getting a stake in early. Only Jeff missed out.

But Jeff had other plans. After losing that vineyard in Sardegna, he realized that no one was growing barbera. He got into that varietal, in both Calabria and Abruzzo. Dave saw the same thing, and tried to get in on that action by buying and planting barbera in Trentino. So yes, they were competing, but they also worked together. Dave and Jeff were both strong in Calabria, and pretty soon they had both bought up the private vineyards in the region. This triggered the government giveaway. Dave had also bought one of the government vineyards, so only three vineyards were available for the giveaway. Dave got the first, and took the most expensive one, while Jeff got the last two.

The market management is always an interesting part of Vino. Whenever you sell wine of a particular variety, its market price goes down some depending on just how much you sold. There must always be a counterbalance, though, so you have to move other varietal's prices up, in any combination, to total the same increase as your sale caused the price to decrease. So as it turned out, prices were never too far off of the 0 modifier. Dave regularly sold Pinot Grigio, hammering its price into the ground. But whenever others sold, they were hesitant to give any other grape too big of a bonus, so ended up pulling Pinot Grigio's price back up to respectability. And similarly, Dave would boost the price of montepulciano and nebbiolo, even though he didn't own them, since whenever he was buying, their prices were very low. So as a result, Dave sold Pinot Grigio, and Danielle sold nebbiolo, and Alice and Jim sold montepulciano, and Jeff sold barbera, and generally no one suffered large market penalties when doing so.

Not too long after the Calabria giveaway, another government giveaway occurred, in Sardegna. Again, Dave was one of the instigators, and again, Jeff was a beneficiary. Jeff and Jim both had only one vineyard in Sardegna, but Jeff's was further along the path, and so he ranked as second place. So Dave got a vineyard, and Jeff got two vineyards, and Jim got nothing, since no government vineyards remained.

The next hotbed of activity was Trentino. Danielle was still very active here, managing to buy and sell her trebbiano. At this point both Alice and Dave made inroads. Still Danielle held enough vineyards to maintain her dominance. And finally she was the one to trigger the giveaway here. As the strong leader, she earned a vineyard, taking the most expensive and cementing ownership in the region. Dave and Alice were second and third, and since there were four government vineyards left, they each gained two of them. This beefed up Dave's barbera holdings (this was his only barbera region), but as it turned out he never had to sell barbera for the remainder of the game, so these vineyards remained secure.

There were three regions still relatively unsettled: Abruzzo, Toscana, and Veneto. We expected that the giveaways for all three would occur on the next turn. But Jim and Jeff didn't cooperate (for pretty good reasons, as Jim went first and didn't make it very advantageous for Jeff to do his part), so Abruzzo remained available. But Toscana had the giveaway after Dave and Danielle completed their purchases, benefitting those two and Alice as well. And Alice made sure that the private vineyards in Veneto were all bought up, triggering the giveaway there. As primary landholder, she got one vineyard, and Jim got two for second place. Jeff even landed a vineyard here, even though he only had one vineyard: he was the only other landholder in Veneto.

So we had one last round to play, primarily for the settlement of Abruzzo. It was Jim who triggered the giveaway, not allowing anyone else to buy vineyards there; he earned his one, and Jeff earned two. Alice, Danielle and Dave both bought back vineyards lost in the previous round's sales, and Dave was also able to buy the last unbought vineyard in Liguria, where Danielle had already bought the other two long before. When that round of purchases ended, the game ended because all giveaways had occurred, and in fact all the vineyards in Italy had been bought! So everyone counted up their vineyards, and Dave came out the winner, with 27 vineyards.

C'mon. It took over three years to get this back to the table? That's not right. I'm sure I was able to get a pretty good lead because I have played it before, and more recently than December 5, 2003. It takes a while to get a handle on the buying vineyards and selling grapes, and what all the consequences are of doing so. I wouldn't mind getting this to the table again soon, so that we can play all knowing the rules a little better.
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Dave Heberer
United States
Lake Stevens
WA
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Boy, that escalated quickly. I mean that really got out of hand fast.
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This game really charmed me when I first played it, but I haven't been able to get it to the table in years. It's a quality game that I think gets overlooked by many. Nice session report!
 
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