Viticulture: Visit from the Rhine Valley Expansion Review
Earlier in July we looked at how to play Viticulture and what we thought about the game, and this month we’ve been taking one of the games expansions for a spin, Visit from the Rhine Valley. While not a major expansion, Visit from the Rhine Valley gives players brand new summer and winter visitor cards to play with, which ultimately change up the game in major ways, while not swapping out too many components. Let’s dive in!
A copy of Viticulture and Visit from the Rhine Valley was provided to us by Stonemaier Games for review purposes. You can find out more about them by visit their website!
The expansion is unassuming, and will arrive in a very small box, but don’t let that fool you: these cards drastically change the way the game plays! As a quick aside, it is important to remember that these summer and winter visitor cards are meant to REPLACE the cards in the main game, not be added to, or mixed with, the original decks. These cards are crafted to work well with each other, and give the game a slightly different flavour and strategic requirement. Don’t do what I did: read the instructions and rules thoroughly. For those with the Tuscany expansion, a few additional cards are available for those playing that experience
Eighty cards in total will come with your expansion, 40 focused on summer activities and 40 focused on winter activities. The strategic difference in this expansion is that these cards won’t be full of victory points for you to earn, but rather focus on the business of making and selling wine. Using these cards resulted in slower scoring games to be sure, but also created unique and different strategic opportunities, especially for those of us who have played more than our fair share of games of the base experience.
While the rest of the game definitely flows like it did before, it cannot be overstated how much these new cards will change the way you play. Before, grabbing up summer and winter visitor cards whenever you got the chance too, was a fantastic way to ensure you’d have a steady supply of victory points to win the game. With this expansion, however, the focus changes, meaning players will have to find different ways – perhaps ways they are not as familiar with – to earn those hard-to-come-by victory points. Who knew such a small box could have such a big impact?
But does it work, and does it work better than the main version? The ultimate answer comes down to what you want out of your games. I found games with this expansion took a bit longer to complete, but fit the theme better than the original cards as the focus shifted to what the game is all about: obtaining grapes and making wine. This is definitely a more immersive experience, without sacrificing the core game play.
On the other side of the coin, however, you could argue that less options to secure ‘easy’ victory points can make this expansion much more frustrating to play. While that was never the case for me, some people I played alongside preferred the victory point rich decks of the original game, over the wine focused decks of this game. That being said, their strategies utilized when playing the main game were more focused on visitor cards than mine was, meaning their transition to this expansion was much more difficult than my own.
Ultimately, I’d argue, Visit to the Rhine Valley should be an expansion every owner of Viticulture purchases. Its low cost means it’s not that difficult to pick up on a whim, and having the option to instantly change the game by simply swapping out two decks of cards will keep your copy of Viticulture fresh, especially if you don’t want to spring for the pricier expansion the game has available.
We at GamesReviews highly recommend this expansion, and suggest that you pick it up as soon as possible. Don’t have a copy of the main game? We highly recommend that as well!