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Subject: Winning by focusing purely on VP actions... rss

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Craig Lindley
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Hi all,

Slightly inflammatory title, but you're here now.

I played a six player game last night, and while we were all planting grapes, upgrading our vineyards etc... one player decided just to take starting positions and actions that gave him victory points, along with visitors that gave VP's. He romped ahead and had 10+ VP's before anyone else had made wine, nevermind fulfilling a contract.

Now, I know it's not "in the spirit" of the game, and he was playing a completely different game to the rest of us, but he won. I have a problem with the fact that it's possible. The problem is, to try and block these VP starting positions and action spots, you may have to take actions that don't really benefit your strategy, so it's not fun to play "blocker".

Thoughts? Has anyone else seen this strategy employed, if so, how was it effectively countered?
 
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A K Vikhagen
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Re: Is this game broken?
Hm, I thought the rules for the EE prevented that - you need wine in the cellar to give tours for instance - did you play with that rule?

EDIT: for your reference just in case: Rule changes implemented in the Essential edition

Quote:
The second is that if you want to gain the 1 VP bonus from a tasting room, you need to have at least 1 wine token in your cellar. You don't do anything with the token--it just needs to be in the cellar, representing a cask from which guests can sample wine when they visit the tasting room. This change is meant to stymie strategies that try to completely avoid making wine while still making elements of those strategies viable.


My bold
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Re: Is this game broken?
A common mistake in Viticulture is that people think they HAVE to make wine. You don't, it's just one of the many ways to make money/points.

The game isn't broken. And the 'go straight for points' strategy is totally valid, but hard to pull off. You're often going last, as you often pick the 6th wake up position. It's worker intensive, so you have to spend precious money and actions on increasing your work force. And you don't really create an 'engine' so you can easily run out of steam, or just not get enough points to win.
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Hampus Ram
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Re: Is this game broken?
I've never played with six players but I think it would be hard to win without making any wine at all. Yes there are many ways to get points without making much wine, but getting all the way to 20 before any other players have gotten their wine-making engine running would probably hinge on a lot of luck and some bad play from the other players.

However, winning without making more than a few bottles of wine, that I can see happening.

I'm very curios to know more about what that player did that enabled him to win!
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Eric Matthews
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Re: Is this game broken?
In viticulture this specific strategy is there to give players a way to score points even if they are blocked by everyone else in making wine.

It's pretty standard in worker placement games for there to be several paths to victory. Some of them less obvious than others. If a majority of players are focusing on one path, taking the other path is the generally the best way to go.

If everyone else is focusing on making wine and leaving other VPs on the board, then absolutely ignore wine!

Note: this strategy generally seems to work about one time with new players, then everyone knows about it and they stop ignoring the extra points on the board and anyone ignoring winemaking has more competition from that point on.

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Dirk Meijlof
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Re: Is this game broken?
It should happen just once. If other players see what's happening they can react. It's like the corn-king strategy in Puerto Rico. You can fool newbies once with it but it doesn't break the game

And don't forget, the Tasting Room only grants you a VP if you have at least one wine token in your cellar!
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A C
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Re: Is this game broken?
... and only once per year. Since a game is bound to last 7 or 8 years, and you need at least one year to create wine, the max number of points it could give you is 6.
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MC Crispy
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Re: Is this game broken?
The game isn't broken - you just don't know how to play!

Pretty inflammatory response, but you're reading it now devil

Seriously, it can happen, but only if you let it. The game is a race (I know that it looks like a pretty straightforward worker placement game, but it isn't because of the end game trigger). There's nothing in the rules that tells you that there's a single path to victory, the only rule is that the person with the most VP wins the game. How you get there is up to you.

So you let the person who went down the Tasting Table route win. You should have spotted it and done something about it (at least contesting for the Action). But I guess that next time you will have at least half an eye out for the possibility of this happening and will head it off at the pass.
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Chris Laudermilk
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Re: Is this game broken?
tilde72 wrote:
Hm, I thought the rules for the EE prevented that - you need wine in the cellar to give tours for instance - did you play with that rule?

EDIT: for your reference just in case: Rule changes implemented in the Essential edition

Quote:
The second is that if you want to gain the 1 VP bonus from a tasting room, you need to have at least 1 wine token in your cellar. You don't do anything with the token--it just needs to be in the cellar, representing a cask from which guests can sample wine when they visit the tasting room. This change is meant to stymie strategies that try to completely avoid making wine while still making elements of those strategies viable.


My bold


Check your quote. (See my bold.) You can give tours without wine. However, you cannot get the VP bonus without it.

Anyway, the original question. The game isn't broken, that is a valid strategy. No other players apparently did anything to get in his way. For a typical game of 6-7 years, with taking the VP wake up position and hitting the tasting room every year, that's about 12-13 VPs total (gotta have wine in the cellar for the VP bonus--at least 1 year to achieve that). After that it's getting the right visitor cards to make up the difference. Seems like he both got lucky with visitors and was completely unopposed in taking the VP bonuses on the board at will.

Remember, the goal of the game is to hit 20+ VP first, not to make & deliver wine.
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Re: Is this game broken?
Agree with the others, you can give tours at anytime, but to get the 1VP there has to be at least one wine token in their cellar and they can only earn the VP once per year.
 
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A K Vikhagen
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Re: Is this game broken?
claudermilk wrote:
tilde72 wrote:
Hm, I thought the rules for the EE prevented that - you need wine in the cellar to give tours for instance - did you play with that rule?

EDIT: for your reference just in case: Rule changes implemented in the Essential edition

Quote:
The second is that if you want to gain the 1 VP bonus from a tasting room, you need to have at least 1 wine token in your cellar. You don't do anything with the token--it just needs to be in the cellar, representing a cask from which guests can sample wine when they visit the tasting room. This change is meant to stymie strategies that try to completely avoid making wine while still making elements of those strategies viable.


My bold


Check your quote. (See my bold.) You can give tours without wine. However, you cannot get the VP bonus without it.

Anyway, the original question. The game isn't broken, that is a valid strategy. No other players apparently did anything to get in his way. For a typical game of 6-7 years, with taking the VP wake up position and hitting the tasting room every year, that's about 12-13 VPs total (gotta have wine in the cellar for the VP bonus--at least 1 year to achieve that). After that it's getting the right visitor cards to make up the difference. Seems like he both got lucky with visitors and was completely unopposed in taking the VP bonuses on the board at will.

Remember, the goal of the game is to hit 20+ VP first, not to make & deliver wine.


Yes, that is correct, I was referring to the VP strategy but it's a sloppy formulation - you can of course give a tour without wine, to get money.
 
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Re: Is this game broken?
cdlftw wrote:
Hi all,

Slightly inflammatory title, but you're here now.

I played a six player game last night, and while we were all planting grapes, upgrading our vineyards etc... one player decided just to take starting positions and actions that gave him victory points, along with visitors that gave VP's. He romped ahead and had 10+ VP's before anyone else had made wine, nevermind fulfilling a contract.

Now, I know it's not "in the spirit" of the game, and he was playing a completely different game to the rest of us, but he won. I have a problem with the fact that it's possible. The problem is, to try and block these VP starting positions and action spots, you may have to take actions that don't really benefit your strategy, so it's not fun to play "blocker".

Thoughts? Has anyone else seen this strategy employed, if so, how was it effectively countered?


6 players game (with experienced players) this is not going to happen. Players will notice that a VC is excellent and will avoid wasting it, especially if there are thousands of workers in the game. So sell at least one grape or buy/sell one field for 1 VP is going to be used very often and 6th position also because it is better than 4th position.

I agree with you that is not fun to play "blocker". Is very enjoyable to follow the flow of planting, harvesting, wine making but you are going to realize that if you really want to win you have to run to extra VP when possible. So you are going to stop to "block" the other player to start to hunt VP to yourself
 
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Craig Lindley
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Re: Is this game broken?
claudermilk wrote:
After that it's getting the right visitor cards to make up the difference. Seems like he both got lucky with visitors and was completely unopposed in taking the VP bonuses on the board at will.

Remember, the goal of the game is to hit 20+ VP first, not to make & deliver wine.


He got very lucky. One visitor was something along the lines of every player could build a structure for 2 coins less than normal cost, but he got 1 VP per player who did.
 
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Chris Laudermilk
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Re: Is this game broken?
cdlftw wrote:
claudermilk wrote:
After that it's getting the right visitor cards to make up the difference. Seems like he both got lucky with visitors and was completely unopposed in taking the VP bonuses on the board at will.

Remember, the goal of the game is to hit 20+ VP first, not to make & deliver wine.


He got very lucky. One visitor was something along the lines of every player could build a structure for 2 coins less than normal cost, but he got 1 VP per player who did.

...and everyone went ahead & built structures and gave him freebie VPs? That card came out in my last game from my son. He was leading, and we all chose not to build. Tempting as the discount was, we all let that opportunity go as the benefit to him was way too much.
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gabe elliott
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Re: Is this game broken?
This is one of the things that broke the game for me as well. I've found almost every game can be won by focusing on just VP's and visitor cards and not actually making wine. There's really just three ways to win, fulfill wine orders, focus on VP's with visitor cards, or a mix of both.
 
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Re: Is this game broken?
gelliott wrote:
This is one of the things that broke the game for me as well. I've found almost every game can be won by focusing on just VP's and visitor cards and not actually making wine.

I agree with the others to disagree with this position. It only happens when everyone else ignores you.

Quote:
There's really just three ways to win, fulfill wine orders, focus on VP's with visitor cards, or a mix of both.

Is there a game component left that you would want to be more effective?
 
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Jennifer Schlickbernd
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Re: Is this game broken?
I will say that if the game makes you play in a way that doesn't benefit you because you have to stop a player from winning, that's a real negative for me as well. The replies here all say the OP should have stopped the player, but is that possible without ruining your own game?
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A J
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Re: Is this game broken?
jschlickbernd wrote:
I will say that if the game makes you play in a way that doesn't benefit you because you have to stop a player from winning, that's a real negative for me as well. The replies here all say the OP should have stopped the player, but is that possible without ruining your own game?


It's a bit of a dance between all the players. There are several cards that allow other players to do something cheaply but rewards one player if they choose to do so. That's a dilemma that each player has to make. I think that's a wonderful feature of the game. If everyone bought the cheap structure then complains that he won with VPs, well, they handed him the game.

Remember that "optimal play" includes factoring in your opponents, otherwise it'd just be multiplayer solitaire. Playing this game optimally definitely can have you block opponents whilst still benefiting yourself, all by adapting to the strategies of others.
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A K Vikhagen
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Re: Is this game broken?
Suggestion: maybe OP can change the title on this thread to something less inflammatory now that it's gotten the attention that was intended?

Or does OP still want to know if the game is broken?

If not, I think the title is misleading for future readers that doesn't take the time to read it all (maybe just the heading) and they might think that something is wrong with the game. IMO it's not.

EDIT: typos and language in general.
 
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gabe elliott
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Re: Is this game broken?
Does the Tuscany expansion help to balance the game play for those focusing on wine making and order fulfilling over just visitor cards? I dont own the expansion so have no experience with it.
 
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Re: Is this game broken?
jschlickbernd wrote:
I will say that if the game makes you play in a way that doesn't benefit you because you have to stop a player from winning, that's a real negative for me as well.

It does benefit you: It will stop the other player from winning.

Quote:
The replies here all say the OP should have stopped the player, but is that possible without ruining your own game?

Absolutely. Just take away one of his resources and use it for yourself.
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Craig Lindley
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jschlickbernd wrote:
I will say that if the game makes you play in a way that doesn't benefit you because you have to stop a player from winning, that's a real negative for me as well. The replies here all say the OP should have stopped the player, but is that possible without ruining your own game?


Thinking about it, as much as I don't like the idea, without this kind of gameplay element, it would purely be multiplayer solitaire... wouldn't it?
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Craig Lindley
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tilde72 wrote:
Suggestion: maybe OP can change the title on this thread to something less inflammatory now that it's gotten the attention that was intended?

Or does OP still want to know if the game is broken?

If not, I think the title is misleading for future readers that doesn't take the time to read it all (maybe just the heading) and they might think that something is wrong with the game. IMO it's not.


I've changed the title, however personally, I think a game where a player can runaway with the game without using the core gameplay mechanics is inherently broken.
 
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ayejae wrote:
It's a bit of a dance between all the players. There are several cards that allow other players to do something cheaply but rewards one player if they choose to do so. That's a dilemma that each player has to make. I think that's a wonderful feature of the game. If everyone bought the cheap structure then complains that he won with VPs, well, they handed him the game.


It's very much a dilemma, because the players that do the blocking will come out behind the players who don't.

ayejae wrote:
Remember that "optimal play" includes factoring in your opponents, otherwise it'd just be multiplayer solitaire. Playing this game optimally definitely can have you block opponents whilst still benefiting yourself, all by adapting to the strategies of others.


I made a similar statement myself a moment ago, but I'm not so sure now. I enjoy worker placement games where you can strategically block others whilst helping yourself somewhat - however here it feels like if you use an action to block the player that's all you get out of it - and you are effectively wasting a worker.
 
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cdlftw wrote:
ayejae wrote:
It's a bit of a dance between all the players. There are several cards that allow other players to do something cheaply but rewards one player if they choose to do so. That's a dilemma that each player has to make. I think that's a wonderful feature of the game. If everyone bought the cheap structure then complains that he won with VPs, well, they handed him the game.


It's very much a dilemma, because the players that do the blocking will come out behind the players who don't.

ayejae wrote:
Remember that "optimal play" includes factoring in your opponents, otherwise it'd just be multiplayer solitaire. Playing this game optimally definitely can have you block opponents whilst still benefiting yourself, all by adapting to the strategies of others.


I made a similar statement myself a moment ago, but I'm not so sure now. I enjoy worker placement games where you can strategically block others whilst helping yourself somewhat - however here it feels like if you use an action to block the player that's all you get out of it - and you are effectively wasting a worker.


You'd "block" by taking a space that gives VP. That's not really wasting a worker, since you got a VP out of it.

However, I'll have to try this new strategy of just going for VP points next time and see how truly viable it is.
 
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