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Monday, March 13, 2017

Top 10 Expansions We Own: #1

Well of course this would be our #1 expansion, after all we are boards and brews.  In our number one spot for our top 10 list of expansions that we own is the Tuscany expansion for Viticulture.  What if you’re tired filling wine orders? In this expansion we have a lot more than just wine orders to fill.  What if we were to expand into apples, tomato sauce, olive oil, or perhaps some cheese?  All of those ingredients are optional in Tuscany depending on which expansion you are playing.  We have some more interactions throughout our adventure that delivers a lot more content to the game.  Through the utilization of a tiered system, this allows us to uncork a lot of new mechanics in the expansions providing an almost legacy-style Viticulture game.  This one is packed to the brim with boards, meeples, and cards equalling 12 small expansions in all!  While Viticulture is still noteworthy, Tuscany is a whole new beast.  Read on to learn more about this incredible expansion. 

Just like Viticulture, we have a double-sided board for Tuscany with one major change. Tuscany includes Tier 1, Tier 2 and Tier 3 expansions and one side of the board has the base level cards that you used in Viticulture like the Vine cards, the Spring and Winter Visitor cards, and the Wine Order cards. The other side of the board includes all of that plus a placeholder for the Structure cards. The base side covers most of Tier 1 and Tier 2 expansions which is convenient if you don’t plan to delve too deep into the game. If you wish to play normal Viticulture on this board, you have the option.  In general, any Tier 1 or Tier 2 expansion can be added to the others, but the new buildings must come after you are using the new board. 

We see a lot of new cards in Tuscany and one of the nice things about the new cards and workers are the ones that interact with the progression of your visitor cards. One of the new additions in the Tier 1 expansions, are the Advanced Visitors in the Arboriculture pack. Realistically though, these are just updated versions of some old Summer and Winter visitor cards. What makes these different is that when drawn, they provide new options that make them more useful. 

Tuscany comes with 11 new Special Certified Workers.  Each of these workers have a special ability that gives a bonus or changes the gameplay somehow.  For space reasons we will not list them all, but rather highlight some of our favorites. Chef – The Chef “bumps” an opponent off of an occupied space and back into their pool.  This adds a bit of spice to what is generally a very non confrontational game. Professore – The Professore lets you retrieve a regular worker from an action space in the current season and use it again in the same year.  Messenger –  You can place the Messanger on an action space in a future season, allowing you to snag that one extra space you needed that year. Traveler – The inverse of the Messenger, the Traveler lets you place on any open space in a previous season, regardless of player count and immediately take the action. Soldato – The Soldato allows you to gain 1 Lyra from each player that wants to place on the action you have placed it on.  Your opponents may place workers on the same action even if there are no remaining spaces. Mafioso – This special worker enables you to take the non-bonus action of the space you selected twice. Wait….Mafia!? That’s right!  We’re now working with Wine + Italy + Mobsters.    

Stonemaier did a fantastic job with these.  All 11 are solid choices, but some are certainly more advantageous than others. Balancing your workers through the seasons and wishing for just one more worker or action space is a continuous challenge in Viticulture.  These work to alleviate a little of that stress, while offering new ways to strategize.  This expansion has been described by the wise and elder gamers as the game that saved Viticulture. I still think Viticulture all on it’s own remains a great game, but Tuscany is absolutely for the more intensely driven, thirsty gamers out there that want a significant increase of meat in their game.  Tuscany delivers for sure, but we would highly recommend you acclimate yourself to the base game of Viticulture first before taking the aggressive leap if you're still adjusting to worker placement games.  There is so much to this expansion with so little time in the day.  I may add more to this post later.

Tuscany (Viticulture Expansion) 
Overall Meeple Rating: 9/10

New additions:
1) 12 small expansions

2) 11 new meeple workers
3) 6 new player mats
4) Structure cards

Have any thoughts or questions?  Leave a comment below.

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