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Viticulture Essential Edition» Forums » Strategy

Subject: Is this game unbalanced, or is it me? rss

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Zachary Lockwood
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I have played this game about 10 times, and the only reason I haven't played it more is that I started hating this game with a passion. On about the 8th play through of the game; some of the things I found to be sorely unbalanced or really unpolished were true of every game I played after I realized the "ultimate strategy"(Disclaimer: I'm not saying that my strategy is the best ever but it is a rough guideline of what is the best overall tactics) which was my second game(Over the course of these 10 or so games I played 2, 3, and 6 player games), I won every game I played using my "strategy" when the grape token was in my favor.

Imbalance 1: Wake-up order
The reason I found this to be unbalanced is straight up useless bonuses compared to choosing first(or as high up as possible) which I'll explain right now; when you choose somewhere other than first on the wake-up order chart you get one bonus(A card(Vine, wine order, or summer/winter visitor card), coin, victory point, or the extra worker) compared to first on the wake-up chart which gets two bonuses, a summer bonus and a winter bonus(For being first to a given action) with certain bonuses not found elsewhere such as: play a second visitor card
harvest another field make more wine etc. (I haven't forgot about the extra worker that will be covered later but he isn't great either.)
TL;DR:going first gives you access to the same bonuses as the turn order chart via bonuses from being first to a spot but also having two guaranteed spots(Going first and grande.) means that in the current state of the game choosing anything but as high up as possible on the turn order chart(Ideally first.) is bad.

Annoyance 2: Seasonal Actions
Every game I have played has played about the same, heavy summer start(Exception: winter get worker space.) heavy winter end. this is due to a huge lack of balance when the game shifts from early game(Getting your workers and buildings out of the way) to end game build your vineyard(the only summer actions which for me lasts about 1-1.5 rounds), get grapes, and fill wine orders. This results in a very stuttery weird issue where at any given time half of the game board is just useless to me, and any given player.

Imbalance 3: Worker counts
The root cause of this balance issue is there isn't a punishment for maxing your workers, because of this it means that your first goal in every game should maxing your workers ASAP; This is true regardless of your strategy.
This is actually a HUGE reason why the grey worker is an awful wake-up bonus, I have never needed a extra worker after maxing my workers making him a sad wake up bonus except maybe on the first round of the game.

Annoyance 4: Two useless buildings
The two useless and time-wasting buildings are the Windmill and Wine-Taster, the reasons they are so UTTERLY USELESS is that it takes 4 actions for the wine taster which isn't counting money, and having you start with a vine card that you can plant(build the cellar, plant a vine card, harvest said vine card, turn said grapes into wine, then at the start of the next year you can gain 1vp a year that you take that action, not to mention that the building cost: 6 lira which is almost enough to have you get two workers in your first year nearly doubling your actions permanently from then on;
Then the windmill which is the worst offender costing 5 lira requiring you not only to plant vines each year but also uproot vines which also requires a yoke(so you have space to plant them) which means two actions every year for 1vp, which is bad not to mention the setup for this costing 7 lira which is two workers if you could get the coin off bonus for the worker.

Annoyance 5: The decreasing value of lira
Every other game I have played with currency has had a use throughout the game, not only does this feel weird(since you only need coins for buildings/getting workers) but the residual payment track feels straight up useless since by the time the amount of lira you would make would be useful the game should be over or have 1 year left. Basically it feels like the residual payment track is just a tiebreaker since money is at-least useless for me by year 3-4.

Imbalance 6: The Summer vs. Winter visitor card issue
I have read through all the cards and their is a strict and severe balance issue with winter visitor cards, going first and having two good winter cards I can do some stupid stuff, such as harvest a field and make wine tokens along with the effect of another card, or fill like 3 wine orders with the right cards and a grande on the fill wine order space, this alone can give you 10-12 points in one round something other cards can only dream of doing.

Imbalance 7: First Player Grape Token
As this is somewhat random and if all players are using my "ideal strategy" I can tell you who should and most likely would win and the answer might not be what you expect, the person who should win will be the person who gets the grape token in the 6th round as with my strategy your engine is at the pinnacle of its effectiveness and should end the game at the 6th round(this is what happened on every game I employed my "ideal strategy".

Imbalance 8: Blush/Sparkling Wines Value
Getting high tier blush/sparkling wine is easy since the value accumulates with each token compared to a tier 9 red/white which is really really really hard to get in a game and wine order cards should reflect this, which they don't.

Here is my ideal strategy:
1: get max workers this should take only 1 worker in the second round.
2: get all the buildings except the two mentions above
3: forget about money since it is now useless
4: plant your vines
5: fill as many wine orders as you can get your hands on
6: ???

Well thanks for reading, please please tell me what I'm missing since I really wanted to like this game but with these current issues for me so blatantly apparent I just cannot.
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Pauly Paul
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Zarklord wrote:
I have played this game about 10 times, and the only reason I haven't played it more is that I started hating this game with a passion.

...

Well thanks for reading, please please tell me what I'm missing since I really wanted to like this game but with these current issues for me so blatantly apparent I just cannot.


To be honest I don't think there is anything anyone can say that will change how you feel about the game. You've written a lot about the elements you don't like but for me I just don't feel the same about them. I mean some of the things you point out aren't untrue but for me they don't bother me and I don't see them as a negative.

Seen another way someone could tell me all the ways they like camping but that isn't going to make me suddenly appreciate the activity. I think Viticulture just might not be the game for you.

It's possible the Tuscany expansion board might improve the game for you, but I honestly wouldn't recommend it if you have begun to hate this game. Focus your money and time on the games that do appeal you.
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Zac Jensen
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Play with Tuscany
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Edwin Woody
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zjensen3 wrote:
Play with Tuscany


And get at least one order filled early.
The Tuscany strategies relying on early sales of grapes and region use are competitive with the early engine building path. And with two tour spots Tasting Rooms have a lot more oomph.
 
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Reverend Uncle Bastard
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Zarklord wrote:

1: get max workers this should take only 1 worker in the second round.


How is this possible? You can only train one worker per worker you place there. Will take at least three workers, and assuming other players are trying for this you will only be able to grab one of those spaces a year (two if you use your grande on it).

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Greg Darcy
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reverendunclebastard wrote:
Zarklord wrote:

1: get max workers this should take only 1 worker in the second round.


How is this possible? You can only train one worker per worker you place there. Will take at least three workers, and assuming other players are trying for this you will only be able to grab one of those spaces a year (two if you use your grande on it).



He can potentially get two workers the first year, then one the second year.

What I don't know is where he is getting all the money he needs to get all the workers AND all the buildings early in the game. Yes he can sell fields, but that takes a worker. And if he sells his fields, where is he planting his vines?

My advice to the OP: You don't like Viticulture. Fine. Play something else.
Personally I really wanted to like LOTR:LCG. But I didn't. I moved on. There are lots of games out there.
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Darin Bolyard
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FWIW, I've played V:EE at least 10 times, and V:EE + T:EE as many. And whatever I say about cards may be due to the fact that I've never played without the Moor Visitors card expansion. That is, it's possible that my experience may differ from yours due to the added (and potentially balancing) effects of those additional cards.

For your #1, I can provide a small bit of anecdotal data to suggest that the first position isn't ALWAYS the obvious choice. One player whom I occasionally play with has a common habit (as in each time she's played with me) of choosing the number 6 (1 VP) spot on the wake-up chart as often as possible. And every time I've played with her, she has either won or at least made a strong bid for victory. Despite this↑, I am mostly in agreement on your #7. But this, like a few other little quirks in V:EE, is addressed and totally fixed with the modified rules for wake-up positions in the T:EE rules. Furthermore, I don't see why you cannot simply apply the T:EE rules for passing out of winter when playing V:EE. I imagine it would also alleviate the issue of players getting choked out of the "fill a wine order" space in the final rounds.

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Dizz
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Well, he did ask if he was missing something.
And I'm super interested in how he's getting all that money.
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ParisianDreams
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The last game I played I had all my workers by year 1 BUT I got super lucky with a winter and summer visitor card that gave me workers. I forget the cards but I played both and went to the spot on the board to train my final worker. That is definitely not something you can do each game though as it depends on getting those visitor cards.
 
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Adam Blanchard
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Imbalance 1: Wake-up order
I don't think you're appreciating the value of seeing more cards enough, and this is also way different with Tuscany.

Annoyance 2: Seasonal Actions
Doesn't bother me.

Imbalance 3: Worker counts
Doesn't bother me. It's just a fact of game strategy. Paired with complaint 2, where you run out of things to do in a season and have too many extra workers you can't use, maybe the answer isn't to max out your workers as you've assumed. Maybe you're wasting money & actions.

Annoyance 4: Two useless buildings
You can potentially get one of these buildings for free from your Mama/Papa draws and that could influence your strategy for the game. Visitors can also get you building discounts. I don't usually buy them at full price otherwise, but it's nice to play with them when it's convenient, as they're helpful with supplemental strategies as I mention below.

Annoyance 5: The decreasing value of lira
This is addressed to some degree with the Tuscany board.

Imbalance 6: The Summer vs. Winter visitor card issue
The designer has straight-up said that this is a game that's mostly about the cards, and often trying to see as many of them as you can. It can be swingy, but it's as swingy as any other card based game.

Imbalance 7: First Player Grape Token
This works much differently in Tuscany.

Imbalance 8: Blush/Sparkling Wines Value
It's not hard to get high level reds/whites. You do know that vine levels on the same field also combine together to make better grapes right? Plant a field of all reds, and you can get a level 6 or 7 red grape in 1 harvest. A lvl 6 + 7 base wine contract is the same reward as a lvl 9 sparkling. That seems pretty balanced.

As far as your complaints about an optimal strategy goes. There is a main strategy with filling wine orders, and there are other minor side strategies that you can employ to add supplemental points to that, which do really matter in the end.
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Gustavo Goncalves
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https://boardgamegeek.com/blogpost/67094/would-your-father-e...
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Thomas M
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GusG4Real wrote:
That is funny.

With that in mind, I have played V:EE once, and solo even. So take below for what it is

Whenever you play a euro that looks like it only has one viable strategy that you can always win with it is usually because of one of the following two reasons:

1) The people you play with suck. If there is really only one strategy and you win with it every time they should be able to counter and block it rather easily.

2) You have not found the other viable strategies. Most euros are finely tuned to have multiple ways to win, but not all of them equally obvious.

And then the bonus 3rd one:

3) Some games are just bad, but one should not assume that is the case until you have ruled out the other two reasons.

Personally I find that #1 is the most frequent reason. Bad players are not just bad at spotting a winning strategy, they are equally bad/worse at spotting how to block it. That is where all the silly luck elements come in, because that is the only way to help such players and stop a game from being "meta-solved" within a small group by the only smart player.

I will form a better opinion after playing more games, but initially my impression is this: Who would have thought that a game about making and selling wine favors the strategy where you make and sell as much wine as possible?
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David Vestal
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Zarklord wrote:
I won every game I played using my "strategy" when the grape token was in my favor.


I think it's a legitimate complaint if a strategy in a game is so dominant that the game is decided by something like starting player (which you allude to). But if you just feel like one strategy is stronger than others, then the game is less of a strategic game and more of a tactical game - players doing well becomes a function of opportunism and reaction rather than wholly distinct strategies. It's personal preference for people who like games that are more strategic, tactical, or a mix.

The other point is that winning all the time is typically an issue of play group than game design. If a strategy is broken, and the reason you win without contest, then why doesn't anyone else employ the same strategy? Are you making better tactical decisions, within the same strategy? Are others failing to adapt? There are pros and cons to games with limited strategic options, but it's not what leads to one person consistently winning.

As an aside, one thing that does cause one person to consistently win is games with low luck. One advantage with games that include a luck element are that it is easier to matchmake or enjoy games between players of varying skill. If I play chess against all but a narrow band of similarly skilled players, one of us will crush the other, and it's not really fun for either of us. If I play poker with a group of varied skill, the better players will win more often, but everyone gets to win sometimes.


Imbalance 1: Wake-up order
You don't get two bonuses for going first, you get first choice of bonuses. The second player has every bonus action space available to him/her, except the one taken by the first player.

Additionally, there are only 4 ways to draw visitor cards: One during the fall, an extra for the cottage, sometimes by playing other visitor cards, and from the turn order bonus. Drawing extra visitors gives you more options - or if you are taking the first wake-up space and playing two summer and/or winter visitors with the coveted bonus action space, you'll run out of visitors unless you find a way to draw more.


Annoyance 2: Seasonal Actions
This is basically every Euro game. People draw resources early, and spend them late. You may not like the way Viticulture splits actions into seasons, but the "some actions are done early, but not later, and vice-versa" isn't affected by grouping them into seasons.


Imbalance 3: Worker counts
The workers cost money and an action. In many other games, they only cost actions. The ideal number of workers is likely to depend on your player count, how crowded the board gets, and your visitor cards - I've never gotten the impression that 6 is automatically the default.


Annoyance 4: Two useless buildings
If you start with a windmill, or build one early, you'll probably plant vines on ~3 turns over the course of the game, translating to spending 1 action and 5 lira for 3 VP, which seems like a pretty good conversion. Who says you need to uproot vines?

The tasting room may be more useful in corner cases (if you start with one, and have a visitor that gives you a (1) wine in your cellar). But at worst, don't build it. Just pretend the game included 1 fewer building.


Annoyance 5: The decreasing value of lira
This I noticed as well, and had commented on it to my playgroup. I think the Tuscany expansion helps provide more "money sinks". There are a few visitors in the base game that let you turn money into points, or provide you bonus/penalties if you meet a minimum residual payment level. It could use a few more, but it doesn't bother me much.


Imbalance 6: The Summer vs. Winter visitor card issue
Visitors can be strong. The designer has stated part of the balance of the game is drawing several cards (both visitors and others) to give you more options, and to adapt your actions to take advantage of them. It gives more value to those "player order bonus" actions that let you draw visitor cards. I would consider this a game feature, not an imbalance. Some people may not like the mechanic, more generally, in games, but it's not anything unique to Viticulture.

Imbalance 7: First Player Grape Token
That gives a lot of incentive to the player who gets the white grape token on the 5th round to eke out 20 points that turn to end the game. Because the token rotates counter-clockwise, it also means the person with the token in the 6th round picks turn order last on the 5th round - which, if turn order is important, should put them in a deficit to make up in the 6th round. The game doesn't have a set end round (like most of Stonemaier games), so a lot of the way these things play out is up to the players themselves. It may not be enough to overcome the advantage, but other players shouldn't be passive observants to a potential round 6 advantage. Try to end the game on round 5 or save specific visitor cards in anticipation of the wine order slots getting taken first in round 6, for example.

Imbalance 8: Blush/Sparkling Wines Value
Getting blush or sparkling wines require 2 or 3 grape tokens instead of 1. You're spending more grapes, and thus more harvest actions, to make them.

Zarklord wrote:
Here is my ideal strategy:
1: get max workers this should take only 1 worker in the second round.
2: get all the buildings except the two mentions above


Where are you getting your money from? 3 workers + 6 buildings = 29 lira and 9 actions. Discount a starting building, and bonus action coins, that's still a lot - especially since you aren't taking any turn-order bonuses for extra visitors and would be using your first-turn status to take bonus coins or play bonus visitors, but not both.

Are the others in your playgroup blitzing vines (both planting and drawing), and leaving you able to take both the "build a building, +1 lira" bonus space *and* the "play two summer visitors" or "give a tour +1 lira" bonus spaces? Is no one else taking the "train worker" spot in the winter, allowing you train two workers in the same turn, with both a normal and grande worker? It sounds, based on your description, like something like that is going on - in which case, I'd say the issue is that you've correctly identified the "less crowded" path. A common theme in most multiplayer games is that you want to be the one who isn't competing for a line of play - again, not unique to Viticulture.

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Zachary Lockwood
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GregDarcy wrote:
reverendunclebastard wrote:
Zarklord wrote:

1: get max workers this should take only 1 worker in the second round.


How is this possible? You can only train one worker per worker you place there. Will take at least three workers, and assuming other players are trying for this you will only be able to grab one of those spaces a year (two if you use your grande on it).



He can potentially get two workers the first year, then one the second year.

What I don't know is where he is getting all the money he needs to get all the workers AND all the buildings early in the game. Yes he can sell fields, but that takes a worker. And if he sells his fields, where is he planting his vines?

My advice to the OP: You don't like Viticulture. Fine. Play something else.
Personally I really wanted to like LOTR:LCG. But I didn't. I moved on. There are lots of games out there.


TBH I'm not quite sure how I got that much money that quickly but there is a couple things I did every round:
Mama's and Papa's: we always played with the get two of each and choose variant(which certainly helped my strategy) but I always choose the full lira choice for papa's with two exceptions, starting with a 4th worker; One cannot understate how OP this card is, in any game I got this card I had max workers at the end of first year every time(Keep in mind I was high up on the turn order track as possible.), and dominated the game due to how much better of a start this is; The other one is the cottage which is always the first building I buy everytime and getting two cards every season is really strong.
Winter visitor cards: it wasn't uncommon for me to never pay(or pay much less) for either cellar due to the number of cards which give you a free(Or much lower price.) medium or large cellar.
Being first to the "give a tour space": Meant 3 or 5(if I needed the money I played my grande there as well) lira a round generally having around 9 lira at the end of the first summer.

Also I never sold my fields...


dbolyard wrote:
FWIW, I've played V:EE at least 10 times, and V:EE + T:EE as many. And whatever I say about cards may be due to the fact that I've never played without the Moor Visitors card expansion. That is, it's possible that my experience may differ from yours due to the added (and potentially balancing) effects of those additional cards.

For your #1, I can provide a small bit of anecdotal data to suggest that the first position isn't ALWAYS the obvious choice. One player whom I occasionally play with has a common habit (as in each time she's played with me) of choosing the number 6 (1 VP) spot on the wake-up chart as often as possible. And every time I've played with her, she has either won or at least made a strong bid for victory. Despite this↑, I am mostly in agreement on your #7. But this, like a few other little quirks in V:EE, is addressed and totally fixed with the modified rules for wake-up positions in the T:EE rules. Furthermore, I don't see why you cannot simply apply the T:EE rules for passing out of winter when playing V:EE. I imagine it would also alleviate the issue of players getting choked out of the "fill a wine order" space in the final rounds.



Yup I'm not saying my strategy is the best ever and that you can win other ways; But what I am saying is that my strategy has the most consistent win chance(due to a number of things removing some randomness or making it be not as much of a factor(IE: the cottage drawing two winter cards every fall)); this is mainly due to if two people "fight for the vp wake-up spot"(and other small vp spots sell a field and such.)they both really hurt each other and probably take themselves and the person they are fighting for it out of the running.


eNonsense wrote:
Imbalance 1: Wake-up order
I don't think you're appreciating the value of seeing more cards enough, and this is also way different with Tuscany.

Annoyance 2: Seasonal Actions
Doesn't bother me.

Imbalance 3: Worker counts
Doesn't bother me. It's just a fact of game strategy. Paired with complaint 2, where you run out of things to do in a season and have too many extra workers you can't use, maybe the answer isn't to max out your workers as you've assumed. Maybe you're wasting money & actions.

Annoyance 4: Two useless buildings
You can potentially get one of these buildings for free from your Mama/Papa draws and that could influence your strategy for the game. Visitors can also get you building discounts. I don't usually buy them at full price otherwise, but it's nice to play with them when it's convenient, as they're helpful with supplemental strategies as I mention below.

Annoyance 5: The decreasing value of lira
This is addressed to some degree with the Tuscany board.

Imbalance 6: The Summer vs. Winter visitor card issue
The designer has straight-up said that this is a game that's mostly about the cards, and often trying to see as many of them as you can. It can be swingy, but it's as swingy as any other card based game.

Imbalance 7: First Player Grape Token
This works much differently in Tuscany.

Imbalance 8: Blush/Sparkling Wines Value
It's not hard to get high level reds/whites. You do know that vine levels on the same field also combine together to make better grapes right? Plant a field of all reds, and you can get a level 6 or 7 red grape in 1 harvest. A lvl 6 + 7 base wine contract is the same reward as a lvl 9 sparkling. That seems pretty balanced.

As far as your complaints about an optimal strategy goes. There is a main strategy with filling wine orders, and there are other minor side strategies that you can employ to add supplemental points to that, which do really matter in the end.


1) I do appreciate seeing more cards which is why I buy the cottage; The one card I can get at the cost of being not first wont ever be worth it for me.

3) I run out of things to do in round 5 or 6 but I make full use of them in earlier rounds, with that said maybe skipping out on one worker in a 4 or 6 player gane(highest player to spaces ratio) might be smart but I never played enough to really fine tune my strategy for that.

4) Or you could take the money which how I play nets me more points than taking those buildings ever could; Also I generally only plant vines on two different years 5 lira(when you need max of 29 to get every building but the two I said for this point) is one 6th of the money I need for a full engine which IMO is not a good trade. As for the visitors I make full use of those discounts just on buildings I really need.

6) My point was that winter visitors > summer visitors in 95% of occasions.

8) It Is Hard to get high level Red/White wine, you need not only a full field of one color compared to split fields giving me 1 red and 1 white meaning sparkling is cheaper since harvesting all my fields nets me two high level sparkling or 3 high level blush also not to mention high level reds/whites are wasted when turning into blush/sparkling; not to mention how much harder it is to get the vine cards for a lvl 7 red or white.


aziras wrote:
GusG4Real wrote:
That is funny.

With that in mind, I have played V:EE once, and solo even. So take below for what it is

Whenever you play a euro that looks like it only has one viable strategy that you can always win with it is usually because of one of the following two reasons:

1) The people you play with suck. If there is really only one strategy and you win with it every time they should be able to counter and block it rather easily.

2) You have not found the other viable strategies. Most euros are finely tuned to have multiple ways to win, but not all of them equally obvious.

And then the bonus 3rd one:

3) Some games are just bad, but one should not assume that is the case until you have ruled out the other two reasons.

Personally I find that #1 is the most frequent reason. Bad players are not just bad at spotting a winning strategy, they are equally bad/worse at spotting how to block it. That is where all the silly luck elements come in, because that is the only way to help such players and stop a game from being "meta-solved" within a small group by the only smart player.

I will form a better opinion after playing more games, but initially my impression is this: Who would have thought that a game about making and selling wine favors the strategy where you make and sell as much wine as possible?


1) Yup totally possible; but I told my group my strategy(and how to stop it which is taking as high up on the wake-up list as possible) and they still couldn't beat or stop me from doing my strategy(the only thing that truly effects my strategy is wake-up order in last games I played wake-up order matched player picking order for the grape just about every year).

2) I don't need to find other viable strategies when I win with mine .

3) That's why I made this post.


HexStarDragon wrote:
Zarklord wrote:
I won every game I played using my "strategy" when the grape token was in my favor.


I think it's a legitimate complaint if a strategy in a game is so dominant that the game is decided by something like starting player (which you allude to). But if you just feel like one strategy is stronger than others, then the game is less of a strategic game and more of a tactical game - players doing well becomes a function of opportunism and reaction rather than wholly distinct strategies. It's personal preference for people who like games that are more strategic, tactical, or a mix.A

The other point is that winning all the time is typically an issue of play group than game design. If a strategy is broken, and the reason you win without contest, then why doesn't anyone else employ the same strategy? Are you making better tactical decisions, within the same strategy? Are others failing to adapt? There are pros and cons to games with limited strategic options, but it's not what leads to one person consistently winning.

As an aside, one thing that does cause one person to consistently win is games with low luck. One advantage with games that include a luck element are that it is easier to matchmake or enjoy games between players of varying skill. If I play chess against all but a narrow band of similarly skilled players, one of us will crush the other, and it's not really fun for either of us. If I play poker with a group of varied skill, the better players will win more often, but everyone gets to win sometimes.


Imbalance 1: Wake-up order
You don't get two bonuses for going first, you get first choice of bonuses. The second player has every bonus action space available to him/her, except the one taken by the first player.

Additionally, there are only 4 ways to draw visitor cards: One during the fall, an extra for the cottage, sometimes by playing other visitor cards, and from the turn order bonus. Drawing extra visitors gives you more options - or if you are taking the first wake-up space and playing two summer and/or winter visitors with the coveted bonus action space, you'll run out of visitors unless you find a way to draw more.


Annoyance 2: Seasonal Actions
This is basically every Euro game. People draw resources early, and spend them late. You may not like the way Viticulture splits actions into seasons, but the "some actions are done early, but not later, and vice-versa" isn't affected by grouping them into seasons.


Imbalance 3: Worker counts
The workers cost money and an action. In many other games, they only cost actions. The ideal number of workers is likely to depend on your player count, how crowded the board gets, and your visitor cards - I've never gotten the impression that 6 is automatically the default.


Annoyance 4: Two useless buildings
If you start with a windmill, or build one early, you'll probably plant vines on ~3 turns over the course of the game, translating to spending 1 action and 5 lira for 3 VP, which seems like a pretty good conversion. Who says you need to uproot vines?

The tasting room may be more useful in corner cases (if you start with one, and have a visitor that gives you a (1) wine in your cellar). But at worst, don't build it. Just pretend the game included 1 fewer building.


Annoyance 5: The decreasing value of lira
This I noticed as well, and had commented on it to my playgroup. I think the Tuscany expansion helps provide more "money sinks". There are a few visitors in the base game that let you turn money into points, or provide you bonus/penalties if you meet a minimum residual payment level. It could use a few more, but it doesn't bother me much.


Imbalance 6: The Summer vs. Winter visitor card issue
Visitors can be strong. The designer has stated part of the balance of the game is drawing several cards (both visitors and others) to give you more options, and to adapt your actions to take advantage of them. It gives more value to those "player order bonus" actions that let you draw visitor cards. I would consider this a game feature, not an imbalance. Some people may not like the mechanic, more generally, in games, but it's not anything unique to Viticulture.

Imbalance 7: First Player Grape Token
That gives a lot of incentive to the player who gets the white grape token on the 5th round to eke out 20 points that turn to end the game. Because the token rotates counter-clockwise, it also means the person with the token in the 6th round picks turn order last on the 5th round - which, if turn order is important, should put them in a deficit to make up in the 6th round. The game doesn't have a set end round (like most of Stonemaier games), so a lot of the way these things play out is up to the players themselves. It may not be enough to overcome the advantage, but other players shouldn't be passive observants to a potential round 6 advantage. Try to end the game on round 5 or save specific visitor cards in anticipation of the wine order slots getting taken first in round 6, for example.

Imbalance 8: Blush/Sparkling Wines Value
Getting blush or sparkling wines require 2 or 3 grape tokens instead of 1. You're spending more grapes, and thus more harvest actions, to make them.

Zarklord wrote:
Here is my ideal strategy:
1: get max workers this should take only 1 worker in the second round.
2: get all the buildings except the two mentions above


Where are you getting your money from? 3 workers + 6 buildings = 29 lira and 9 actions. Discount a starting building, and bonus action coins, that's still a lot - especially since you aren't taking any turn-order bonuses for extra visitors and would be using your first-turn status to take bonus coins or play bonus visitors, but not both.

Are the others in your playgroup blitzing vines (both planting and drawing), and leaving you able to take both the "build a building, +1 lira" bonus space *and* the "play two summer visitors" or "give a tour +1 lira" bonus spaces? Is no one else taking the "train worker" spot in the winter, allowing you train two workers in the same turn, with both a normal and grande worker? It sounds, based on your description, like something like that is going on - in which case, I'd say the issue is that you've correctly identified the "less crowded" path. A common theme in most multiplayer games is that you want to be the one who isn't competing for a line of play - again, not unique to Viticulture.



To answer your first point about play groups one person tried to beat me using a different strategy(which failed hard) two others followed suit and beat me(when the grape token was in their favor)

HexStarDragon wrote:
Are you making better tactical decisions, within the same strategy? Are others failing to adapt?


This is probably true but doesn't change my point about the strategy mimickers who beat me when the grape token was in their favor not mine.

HexStarDragon wrote:
As an aside, one thing that does cause one person to consistently win is games with low luck.


I think this game is heavily luck based, from the grape token to the cards; My strategy and attempts to negate that as much as possible(cottage always drawing two winter cards is the biggest.).

1) Yes this true but at-least for my group in the final rounds the: play winter visitor card spot was the first taken just about every-time, and with how powerful that spot is, getting first pick is so crucial that I can't state this enough; More specifically I'm saying that if you need money, don't pick the money wake-up bonus, but go first and get money with the give a tour space, not only did you get the "money wake-up bonus", but you also go first in winter and get another bonus that might not be available if you picked the coin spot.
As for your last point I never ever draw summer bonus cards, I find most of them useless, with having a better chance to get a useful card if I take only winter cards, and also I only generally play my cards at round 1(for workers if I get one) and round 5-6 for doing wine related things, I have never run out of visitor cards ever, and generally have the visitor cards I need by round 5.

2) It is effected by grouping of seasons as there is always just about every piece placed in one season or the other.

3) Every game I had 6 workers I blew past everybody in terms of engine development due to having way more actions(in some cases double), not only have I outpaced them with this but only on the final round do I generally have no use for a worker or two.

4) I responded to a point just like this above, so see above.

5) I have heard a lot and seen a lot about how Tuscany fixes this which is nice, but this isn't Tuscany...

6) Copied from above: "My point was that winter visitors > summer visitors in 95% of occasions." Maybe I didn't state this clearly but I'm saying that summers cards abilities compared to winter is just bad, I like the concept, but for me the summer cards have never had the effects I needed to make it worth it to draw them.

7) If someone ended the game on round 5 I would be impressed... but even though there isn't a round limit the game ended on round 6 for me every time and even when grape token wasn't in my favor I still would have ended the game at round 6(as in I got enough points to end the game that time) but another person outscored me.

8) True, but mixed color fields means that its not that expensive to get multiple blush or sparkling a year.

I answered the money question above but keep in mind I never play summer visitor cards unless I start with a good one(which is rare) let alone me needing the bonus for playing a second summer card which never happens.
Also don't forget I'm going first wherever possible which is how I get say double train workers space at the start of the game etc.
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Eric Hogue
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Zarklord wrote:
TBH I'm not quite sure how I got that much money that quickly but there is a couple things I did every round:
Mama's and Papa's: we always played with the get two of each and choose variant(which certainly helped my strategy) but I always choose the full lira choice for papa's with two exceptions, starting with a 4th worker; One cannot understate how OP this card is, in any game I got this card I had max workers at the end of first year every time(Keep in mind I was high up on the turn order track as possible.), and dominated the game due to how much better of a start this is; The other one is the cottage which is always the first building I buy everytime and getting two cards every season is really strong.


Your experience is your experience, so I'm not goihng to tell you that you are wrong. However, let's look at the action sequence from a "take the money" game following your sequence, being about as favorable as I can with vines/visitors. I am assuming this is V:EE with four players.

Start: Two workers, grande, six coins, say vine/visitor/wine order

Year 1: Tour (3), worker (-3), worker (-4); end with five workers, two coins, vine/two visitors/wine order

Year 2: Tour (3), Flip (7), Cottage (use grande) (-4), worker (-3), wine order; end with five coins, all workers, vine/four visitors/2 wine orders

Year 3: Play two visitors (say get tower/trellis for -1 total and another 2 vines), tour (2), plant Pinot vine (grande), harvest, two wine orders, perhaps one winter visitor for medium cellar); six coins, two grapes, no wines

Year 4: Plant two more vines (red and white), tour (2), medium cellar (grande) (-4), harvest two fields for four more grapes, make two small whites, large cellar from visitor.

This would give you a decent position. You have all buildings except the yoke, two fields each producing red and white, two small white/blush wines, three red grapes and a white grape, three wine orders (probably at least one with sparkling/blush), and you have four coins.

You went first every year (or at least got your preferred bonus space). In seven visitor cards, you managed to pull one that let you draw two vines, one that let you build two buildings, and one that upgraded your cellar for free. Your three vine cards happened to include exactly one Pinot, one 3 red, one 3 white. That's a good deal of luck, and if someone got a Pinot from his Mama and planted/harvest it the first year, they have already made more grapes than you. You are not dominating that person.

I don't see this as an unbeatable strategy based on my experience.
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David Vestal
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EricHogue wrote:

Year 2: Tour (3), Flip (7), Cottage (use grande) (-4), worker (-3), wine order; end with five coins, all workers, vine/four visitors/2 wine orders

Year 3: Play two visitors (say get tower/trellis for -1 total and another 2 vines), tour (2), plant Pinot vine (grande), harvest, two wine orders, perhaps one winter visitor for medium cellar); six coins, two grapes, no wines


OP specifically said he doesn't sell fields and doesn't play summer visitors, because he feels they're too weak. I think he takes the entirety of turns 1-4 getting his buildings and workers, and then plants, harvests, makes wine, completes contracts, and plays winter visitors on turns 5 and 6. Which is in line with feeling like summer visitors are too weak compared to winter visitors (summer visitors help setup infrastructure, winter visitors feel like 8 VPs because they're completing wine contracts out-of-turn), why the extra worker feels useless (he has 6 after turn 2), and why blush and sparkling wines feel OP (minimal aging, but using 6 workers and all buildings to suddenly harvest and combine grapes into high-value wines).

My best guess, based on the information provided, is that his playgroup isn't tactically reacting well, and he's taking advantage of it (as he should), which is a different issue than the game being broken. My main question would be what games does the OP enjoy? It could just be he doesn't like these types of games - but as far as I can tell, the issues he's highlighting would be present in just about every other modern Euro-style I can think of. The only one that I specifically noticed in Viticulture is "running out of useful ways to spend money".

It could also be a quirk of player count - OP said he plays 2 (no bonus spots), 3 (most bonus spots per player, picking first 6th round means picking second 1st round), and 6 (picking first 6th round means picking second 1st round). In 4 players (which I typically envision as the basic 'reference' number of players for this game), picking first 6th round means picking fourth/last first round, which would change up that perceived advantage and crowd the board compared to 3 players.
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Eric Hogue
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HexStarDragon wrote:
EricHogue wrote:

Year 2: Tour (3), Flip (7), Cottage (use grande) (-4), worker (-3), wine order; end with five coins, all workers, vine/four visitors/2 wine orders

Year 3: Play two visitors (say get tower/trellis for -1 total and another 2 vines), tour (2), plant Pinot vine (grande), harvest, two wine orders, perhaps one winter visitor for medium cellar); six coins, two grapes, no wines


OP specifically said he doesn't sell fields and doesn't play summer visitors, because he feels they're too weak. I think he takes the entirety of turns 1-4 getting his buildings and workers, and then plants, harvests, makes wine, completes contracts, and plays winter visitors on turns 5 and 6.


I don't see how to get enough grapes/money for all that without a flip and a friendly summer visitor. Also, I have trouble seeing getting everything planted, harvested, pressed, and delivered in two year, and in sufficient quantity to make 20 points, even with 6 workers. Perhaps the OP will go over what a typical game might be. I'd be very interested.
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Adrian Stark
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I'm really not a huge fanboy of this game (I just got it and played it a few times. I think it's totally decent, but also significantly overrated).

However, I can't really agree with most of your points.

For example, you totally contradict yourself regarding the worker count. You say it's absolutely inevitable to max out your workers asap, yet the grey worker then becomes totally useless. How could that be?
Yes, getting some workers very early is quite a no-brainer, but I do think there are a few viable worker counts, and so far, I think 1 less than max is actually better than maxing them out.

Same goes for summer&winter actions. Yeah, in the beginning you plant more, in the end you harvest more - where's the problem? It actually makes for a great flow of the game.

Your so-called underpowered buildings I also can't agree with at all - actually almost the contrary, I think the VP generating buildings are very very strong and more often than not actually more rewarding than going for VP by wine orders.


Problems I personally have with this game would rather be 1) the fact that every game plays more or less the same and the replayability is thus, in my opinion, below average, and 2) the luck of the draw being too strong. Whereas you still can adapt your strategy based on your draw in the first rounds, in the end it's basically 'draw a purple card - it gives you 0 VP, or it gives you 5 VP.' (slightly exaggerated)
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Brian Gordon
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I just played this game for the first time last night and popped on to see what people said. A couple of the OP points struck a chord.


Imbalance 1: Wake-up order
I totally agree with the OP on this one. Going first is a huge advantage because you get prime pick for both summer AND winter. This means you get two maximally efficient moves at a minimum. In all likelihood you are getting closer to three or more optimal moves. In a 4 player game picking 1st and 5th in summer and then 1st and 5th again in winter is worth MUCH more than the single card that you gain if you go 3rd (3rd and 7th).

Annoyance 2: Seasonal Actions
Eh, this didn't bother me. I get what the poster is saying though. Many of the early actions on the summer board don't seem super worthwhile late game, but I don't see this as a huge issue.

Imbalance 3: Worker counts
I think starting with an extra worker as a starting bonus is a huge deal and much better than any of the other bonuses. I do think you need to get an extra worker early, but maybe not all of them unless you just have an opportune time to get a discount.


Annoyance 4: Two useless buildings
I had the option of taking the wise-taster for free at the start or five coins. I took the wine-taster. That was a terrible idea. My starting cards didn't provide me with any vines. As a result it was very inefficient for me to actually meet the conditions to get the extra VP for giving tours. It would have been much better to start with the 5 coins to increase my flexibility (other buildings, workers, etc). I disagree about the windmill being worthless, but it is situational. If you get a windmill early or at a discount from cards it seems very viable. Most importantly it gives you a way to score points late game that isn't tied to the Winter board (complaint 2) and very difficult to block.

Annoyance 5: The decreasing value of lira
I get this point, but nothing stood out when I played.

Imbalance 6: The Summer vs. Winter visitor card issue
At the end of the game I regretted not seeing enough card. The cottage in retrospect seems really powerful. This tied into the turn order issue. Being able to play two cards together seemed overly powerful. Getting the right combination really vaulted you into an early lead or allowed you to get 10 points in a turn to cut the game off. In the future I will definitely focus on getting a cottage/cards as it just opens up more options of play.

Imbalance 7: First Player Grape Token
100% agree with this. Very early, and very late it felt like it was key to secure early turn order which in turn had out outsized impact on the flow. This was a fluke of the grape. It was frustrating, but I'm not sure how to solve it. I guess if you are getting bad turn order you just have to adapt and take strategies that aren't obvious. At least starting out though with novice players this seems like it would heavily dictate the outcome of the game.

Imbalance 8: Blush/Sparkling Wines Value
I didn't see a problem here. As others pointed out you just plant a field with just reds or just whites to bump this up.
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J Ginsbu
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I've found the tasting room quite useful late in the game: it allows me a point making summer season action that can absorb (what is often at that point in the game) a "spare" worker, when I may already have an extra wine in my cellar (not needed to fill orders), and it's cheap to build later in the game when you've established an income and lira aren't otherwise of much use. This bears on a number of the OPs complaints.

I tend to agree that turn order and especially passing the first player token are imbalanced. I won my last game against my wife in large part because I had the first player token in the last round and was able to go first. While I think she probably undervalued going first in earlier rounds, she certainly would have picked going first in the last round had she been able to and would have won if she did. The changes introduced in Tuscany seem good and I have to wonder why a simplified version of them wasn't included in V:EE as well.
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Dizz
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That sounds like a timing issue. Not really a balance issue.
 
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Brandizzle wrote:
That sounds like a timing issue. Not really a balance issue.


I suppose I'd call it a 'rotating' (or 'alternating' in 2p) imbalance. "Timing" suggests to me that players could have planned ahead the timing of their actions around the end of the game, but given the way card draw can accelerate the end of the game in Viticulture it's very hard to know enough rounds in advance whether you're likely to be first player in the last round (especially at 2p). Giving control of who will go first to the players, as in Tuscany, creates a (positive, in my view) timing issue for players to contend with.
 
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Graeme SSSSS
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My instinct on reading the OP's strategy, is (along with the money issue others have mentioned) genuine bafflement that more people aren't getting in his way? In my experience, there is no one "best" strategy in this game, aside from taking advantage of spaces other people don't want. If multiple people are trying the same approach, and clogging up the same spaces, a 6-year game seems too fast to me?

And in a 2-player game without the bonus spaces, a huge amount of the initial benefit of claiming top spot on the wake-up track is gone - you don't get a bonus for the first action on the board, so the wake-up track bonuses become more important as a result.

I wonder if there's any chance he's missing a rule or two and playing with all 3 spaces and the bonus spots regardless of player count? If only playing with 2, you're supposed to play with just 1 non-bonus space on each action, while in a 3 and 4 player game, you get the bonus space, but still only one "normal" space alongside that, not both normal spaces. If this rule wasn't being followed, his comment 3 about the strength of having all the workers would make more sense, as would the fact he doesn't seem to run into problems with running out of money, or his opponents blocking actions he would normally want to take?

EDIT: I've realised this also adds value to the two "useless" buildings as well, as they allow VP's to be generated from what would seem to be sub-optimal choices if every placement option is available. It's also possible he's not missing this rule and his opponents are just being very obliging with not getting in his way, but if that's the case, I'm still not sure that's the fault of the game?
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Chris kok
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Imbalance 1: Wake-up order

While giving up first turn when you are first to pick is bad, you have to look at it another way. If you are first in the first round, you can pick the second spot. You will lose having your preferred bonus spot, but you still can get the second best choice, and you basically got an extra worker if you were planning to go green anyway. For example in the first round you want to build and get green cards both. So you can be first and pick one of them, then the second player will pick the other option. If you go second you get a free green card, and you still get to get the bonus build or vine spot. If you're third to pick in a 4-player game you can give up on going 3rd and instead pick the bonus worker. You cannot get 2 workers trained in the first year (since player 1 and 2 will fill up the 2 spots), so why go 3rd instead of getting an extra worker?
Another thing to consider is what you want that requires you to go early. If you want to spend a turn early on to make wine quickly you can just pick a bonus you like and not suffer for it. After all, nobody is going to compete.
With this said, I must say that going much later is not worth it, like if you are in a 4-player game and you can pick second, you have to go second, so you can always get what you want.

Annoyance 2: Seasonal Actions

You can go against the grain. Give a tour with a tasting room or plant some stuff with the windmill. Or get summer action cards so you can pop those and get some extra points there, when everyone else is fighting to get a spot on winter visitor.

Imbalance 3: Worker counts

If you play even being 1 below the maximum amount is often a good idea, unless you have great worker dumps. Lategame you only need to harvest, make wine, winter visitor, get orders and fill orders. Which are 5 actions. And often you do not to do all of these actions. Or you cannot do all these actions since the actions are already taken.

Annoyance 4: Two useless buildings

windmill can give 3 points for 5 lira. Its tricky but if you have a visitor that gives green/plants you can get a windmill late (since you are not competing for summer actions anyway) and use the visitor/plant late for a few extra points. This is useful if youre late on the track and you cannot do all the winter activities anyway. You dont need money so putting it towards a windmill to at least turn some of it into points is better than nothing. Naturally if you have no green cards having to do 3 actions (build, get green, plant) will be too much.

Annoyance 5: The decreasing value of lira

Some summer cards allow you to turn coins into money. But yeah, its mostly a tiebreaker. Also some visitors give you points if you have all the expensive buildings/build an expensive building.

Imbalance 6: The Summer vs. Winter visitor card issue

winter also has more competition for slots. So if you draw summer cards in the fall while others draw winter cards you can play 2 visitor cards per rounds while others fight for the winter slots.

Imbalance 7: First Player Grape Token

pretty big problem, I agree.

Imbalance 8: Blush/Sparkling Wines Value

You have to sacrifice multiple grapes to make one wine. And you have to be lucky you get the right wine order to work your sparkling.

As for strategies. It depends on whether you get the right early cards. But if you start with a 1 value grape you can build a tasting room early and get your wine ready in year 1. Then every year after you can give a tour and feed people your terrible wine for points. Early on this makes picking "give tour" a lot more fun since you get a point for it, late game it allows you to dump one surplus worker on the tour while everyone else cannot do anything worthwhile in the summer. While this does cost you training a worker, others will train 1 or 2 workers and the pressure for training more will be a lot lower the next year. And giving a tour to get both coins and points kind of makes the worker doing it give double value.
 
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mercy fate
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i was about to come on here and make a similar thread titled "is this game too random or is it me?" ot "too heavily based on luck or is it me?"


the reasoning.

i have only played the game 3 times

and every time I have played, I played it like a euro game and tried to use my actions and workers as efficiently as possible

and every time, one of my opponents gets some crazy combo of cards that lets them do a bunch of crazy stuff on a single turn, like filling up all their fields with grapes then harvesting all the fields at once and then instantly turning it all into wine and it puts them so far ahead that it becomes clear to me that i'll never catch up.

however, the last time I played, i focused all my early actions on trying to get a good hand of cards and i drew all garbage(or so it seemed)...like, i drew stuff that just gave a couple of extra coins or something, while again, one of my opponents only drew a couple of cards and got some awesome combo that put them way ahead.


it makes me feel like this game is all too often decided by a lucky draw more that actual good euro game strategy.


but again, i only played it 3 times, so is it just me?



p.s.

i did notice a couple of other responses on this thread where other people stated that the designer intentionally made the game more about the cards, but I dunno.
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