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Subject: A Case for Tuscany rss

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Lawrence
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With the upcoming release of Viticulture Essential Edition, I've started to see more and more questions (on BGG and IRL) asking if it is still worthwhile to purchase Viticulture: Tuscany – Expand the World of Viticulture. I thought this would be a good chance to post a more thorough review of what my thoughts are on this. Hopefully this will help any new Viticulture players.

Note: All images below have been uploaded by other users on the Tuscany page

What You Get In Tuscany vs. Essential Edition



The Tuscany expansion was big. So big that it actually cost more than the original game itself. There were twelve total expansion modules, as seen above. Four of those will be included in Essentials:
Mamas and Papas Expansion
Property Expansion
Automa Solo Variant
Selected Visitors (Some Mix of Advanced and New Visitors)

The Mamas and Papas, Property, and Visitors were some of the most used expansions from Tuscany. Most of the other expansions were ones that either didn't add much to gameplay or were simply unnecessary to many. However, they left out three other widely used and loved expansions:
Extended Board
Structures
Special Workers

Although there have been hints that there will be a "Tuscany Lite" expansion with these two modules included, there are no definite plans at the moment.

If you are a completionist, you'll be interested to know that there are four expansions that Stonemaier games has confirmed that they have no intention of re-printing:
Arboriculture
Formaggio
Mafia
Patronage

Stonemaier games hasn't stated that Special Workers will not be reprinted (in the case of Aboriculture, etc.), but they haven't implied that it would be part of "Tuscany Lite" either.

What Do Other People Think?

There was a Tuscany Module Poll that showed what expansions people really used. Key among those are the ones included in the essentials edition, extended board, structures, patronage, and to a lesser extent - Special Workers. As observed, the rest weren't too popular.



So What Are You Missing? - The Extended Board

Tuscany Extended Board


Viticulture 2nd Edition Board


d10-1Added Seasons

I could never go back to playing with the regular Viticulture board since the extended board functionally supplies twice as much game. In the original board, there are only two main seasons where worker placement occurs: Summer and Winter. In the Fall, you gained a bonus Visitor card, but it really only acted as a transitional phase. With the extended board, there are now four phases of gameplay. This had a few major implications:

Training new workers became more competitive. With such a large number of new areas open, there was so much to do that you needed more workers period. In my games, people constantly saved their grande worker or made it a point to go first to guarantee a spot to train workers.

There were more victory paths to choose from. Added spaces to give tours and make structures seem small, but made certain strategies like emphasizing Tours more viable. The addition of the "Trade 1 for 1" spot opened up a ridiculous amount of flexibility of strategy. It allowed you to cycle out dead cards, helped you out with that last bit of Lira you were missing, or even helped you get that missing white grape you needed to complete that sparkling wine next turn.

d10-2Expanded Wakeup Track



With the new track, every season gives a new reward depending on what turn order you choose. Since the rewards have almost tripled in scale, this also makes turn order more competitive. It's almost a game in itself, as you find yourself agonizing on whether or not going sooner is worth giving your opponent those extra cards or worker they've been eyeing. In my experiences, this makes the game a bit tighter, as going later often gives enough bonuses to stay more than competitive.

d10-3]Influence Map



During the Spring, players can choose to place influence stars in a specific area of Tuscany to gain immediate bonuses (cards, Lira, etc.). If they have the most influence in a certain area when the game ends, they gain that much VP. This area has accounted for several sneaky comeback wins for my group. In my last game, I had 20 VP on the track and 8 VP worth of influence territories. When my girlfriend finished her last wine order and advanced to 25 VP (game ends), she didn't realize that it immediately jumped me to 28 VP.

So What Are You Missing? - The Structures Deck

Standard Viticulture has several structures you can build on your including irrigation, tasting rooms, and cellars. The expansion adds two new areas to build additional buildings that you draw from a Structures deck.



These add personal spaces that can alter or enhance your strategy. By having your own wine press, you don't have to compete over the single space to make wine. By having a restaurant, you can instantly convert wine and a grape into Lira and VP, allowing you to skip wine orders or selling wines altogether. Those are two possible cards out of an entire deck. It really helps to customize your playerboard.

So What Are You Missing? - Special Workers




Although the special workers aren't played as much as the other two mentioned above, I find that it adds a new layer of depth that I wouldn't play without. In standard gameplay, you have a single grande worker and several regular workers that are all the same. The Special Workers module allows you to train new specialized workers that break certain game rules. The farmer allows you to gain a bonus without being on the bonus spot. The chef allows you to bump a player out of an area. It allows for more interesting interactions and gives more character to the game.

My only small issue is that some of the workers have abilities that don't feel very thematic. I'm not sure how being a farmer thematically helps you gain bonuses on a space for selling wine.

So Is It Worth It?

Tuscany is a great expansion that adds A LOT to viticulture. However, there is a reason that things like the expanded board weren't included in the Essentials Edition - they also added a lot of complexity. This may be a turn off to some new players, as there are a lot of spaces and cards to become familiar with. However, more experienced gamers shouldn't be scared away from that. I successfully learned and taught with all three modules above (plus two essential modules) on my first game. One player in the group was a new gamer.

Bottom line - Tuscany turns what's already a good game into a great one. It adds a lot of depth to what you get in the Essentials edition, and is a no-brainer for those who want more open strategy in their games.

Edit: Fixed some typos and clarified the Special Workers section.
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Tod Andrew
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Thanks for the comparison, very helpful.
 
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Per Fischer
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Super helpful, thanks!

I'm still unsure whether to buy the 2nd edition + Tuscany right here and now, or the essential edition to play with, and then later Tuscany, even though some of the Tuscany modules are already in the essential ed.

Because one thing I want is the Automa variant.

ARG!
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Jerold Wallis

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The 2nd edition is hard to find and very costly. The essential edition will likely be out in a few weeks, in dec 2015. Makes the choice easier. You can still buy Tuscany if you want it -- it is compatible with both (though there is some overlap with essentials).
 
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Jim Parkin
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Perhaps I am just blind, but I cannot find anything stating that there DEFINITELY WILL BE a Tuscany: Essential Edition.

I missed the boat on the original campaigns for both games, as well as the Stonemeier pre-order for Viticultre: Essential Edition, and while I'm still inclined to pick up the latter, I've read so much about the Extended Board, Structures, and Special Workers (as you've noted) that I can't help but feel like I'll be missing these when I open up V:EE for the first time. I know that's a bit silly, and I'm not even much of a completionist, but the hype for those modules is real. I'm pretty confident that I won't bite the bullet and buy the current full version of Tuscany... but I'd be remiss if the additional content for a "Tuscany:EE" never actually gets released.
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Lawrence
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Annowme wrote:
Perhaps I am just blind, but I cannot find anything stating that there DEFINITELY WILL BE a Tuscany: Essential Edition.

I missed the boat on the original campaigns for both games, as well as the Stonemeier pre-order for Viticultre: Essential Edition, and while I'm still inclined to pick up the latter, I've read so much about the Extended Board, Structures, and Special Workers (as you've noted) that I can't help but feel like I'll be missing these when I open up V:EE for the first time. I know that's a bit silly, and I'm not even much of a completionist, but the hype for those modules is real. I'm pretty confident that I won't bite the bullet and buy the current full version of Tuscany... but I'd be remiss if the additional content for a "Tuscany:EE" never actually gets released.
You're right - Jamey Stegmaier has only hinted that it's a possibility. They're probably going to make a decision based on sales of Viticulture Essential before laying any real plans.

While the Extended Board, Structures, and Special Workers are amazing, you'll get plenty of quality game with Essential Edition. And to be perfectly honest, in my past 4 plays of Viticulture, I'm the only one who really used any special workers or structures cards. Some people just don't use those modules even if they're available.
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I have the 2.0 edition and Tuscany Prima. I use ALL expansions with my family and we play 5-8x a week (we often play back-to-back-to-back games). The special worker choices and Mamas and Papas change the game each time. We all try new strategies. The others ignored the cheese till I beat them like rented mules a few times and then got on the band wagon. Now we all use the cheese to some extent. We all use the structures and sometimes they're helpful, other times they're instrumental in a win strategy. When we introduce a new player, like one of my other kids, we start all over from the basics. THAT was a huge shift in strategy and was awkward, which helps the newbie. So it is evident that not only do the expansions change the game, I find they help add to variety in strategies which allow a huge improvement in replayability. If you don't play as often as we do (which is near obsessive to an outside view) the replay variety is less critical.
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Ryan Graham
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FYI that "Tuscany Essential Edition" was announced today in the Stonemaiergames newsletter! It includes the extended board, structure mats, and special workers!

http://stonemaiergames.com/games/tuscany/tuscany-essential-e...
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Anil Aba
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Hello,

Good comparison...

I am new to board games. And there is something I couldn't clarify for myself about Viticulture versions.

I do not have any of the Viticultures and I want to get my first one. Which one should I get?

For example, can I just get the late Essential Edition and start playing with it? In other words, is it an addition ON the first edition which you need to go with the essential one? Or does it include (cover) the first edition AND brings some new features, so you'd go with the essential one?

Thanks in advance,

 
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Byron S
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Viticulture: Essential Edition is the place to start, and includes everything you need to play the game. The original first edition is long since out of print and would be hard to find a copy of for a reasonable price (not to mention unnecessary.)
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Ken
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I agree with Byron, you can start with Viticulture Essential Edition. It is the best place to start. But I would say that once you add Tuscany Essential expansion to it you'll find a far more excellent game. I believe there are other expansions as well; but honestly a combination of these two, base game Viticulture Essential Edition and expansion Tuscany Essential, es fantastic.

However, getting back, yes Viticulture Essential Edition is the best place to start and a very enjoyable game.
 
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