English language edition
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In this game, players acquire vineyards in 9 regions in Italy. Players choose from five kinds of grapes when they first start buying in a region, but not all grapes grow in all regions. The players then sell their wines by type, driving prices down for everyone. Players also have the opportunity to affect the price of the wines in other ways.
The game takes a little getting used to but then plays smoothly. I disagree with earlier comments:
1) The market moves very rapidly, too rapidly for any real strategic planning.
I don't agree. You know who is strong in a particular group. If you have competition, you better plan to sell ahead of them. The way to do that is to SELL LESS WINE the previous turn. Then you will go before them (albeit $200 poorer) and sell the wine and undercut their profits. In fact, if you depress the price enough, your opponent will be forced to sell his other wine and raise the wine you just sold.
2) It is not really a simulation at all; it is more an abstract game.
Got that right, and neither is any German game a simulation. They are all abstract games with light themes. I like simulations (wargames and science games like American Megafauna), and I like Euro games. Settlers of Catan isn't a simulation. I can't think of any Euro ([page scan/se=0130/sf=category/fi=stockin.asc/ml=20]Ursuppe included) that's a simulation. Its not a pure abstract game like Siesta.
> Every year you do not generate more wine, nor does unsold wine do you any good later. It is more an abstract representation of territorial change. If you are looking for anything vaguely economic, look elsewhere.
The theme is not 'realistic'. But the buying and selling mechanism is ok. If there is a large sale before you come to market, the price will be depressed.
3) There is too much kingmaking going on--affecting the market, choosing which regions to go after, etc. are all more oriented towards who you are helping next rather than yourself. It feels like a lot of turns are really deciding who you want to help out, which is fine, but does not lend itself to strategic play beyond politics.
The last turn certainly has the kingmaker problem. Other than that, its not a big deal except with a vindictive player, and that's true of any German-style game. To avoid the kingmaker problem to some extent, try to maximize your score or relative position.
As both an economics major and a wine lover, the initial appeal of Vino was obvious. I thought that I would give Vino a try. I'm glad that I did.
My gaming group slowly realized the complexity of the game mechanics. Where to buy? What to grow? How much to buy? How much to sell? Do I buy all of the public vinyards in a region to deny the lucky loser his spoils? There is no end to the list of questions.
We did not find that the market moved too fast for long term planning. If you are selling a grape variety and you come to the market after a large quantity of that variety has been sold, the price will be depressed. If you come with a different variety, relative scarcity indicates that the price for your variety will be higher. If several people are producing your variety, you can choose to continue to grow that variety at a reduced price, or you can choose to grow a new variety. This is free market economics at work.
The public vinyard giveaways and the beautiful components all add to the enjoyment in playing this game. Highly recommended.
The game is a lot of fun, with several tough decisions per turn. There is no clutter and the game plays smoothly. The consequence of an action may not be apparent for a turn or two, but pay attention. By watching the other players you can estimate their next turn's actions and plan accordingly.
Beautiful components. No problem telling any grapes apart because you just read the type next to the region. Even if you are color blind it will have zero effect on play.
Italian regions, each producing two to five brands of wine, have vineyards for sale at various prices; ownership of a more expensive vineyard provides strategic advantages for the buyer. Starting out with 1,000 lire and two free vineyards, you compete to end up with the most vineyards. Rounds start with everyone simultaneously and secretly selecting two regions in which to purchase vineyards. Players then take the wines grown there and add them to their cellars. Selling wine generates indispensable income for future purchases, but also returns brands to a region, loses vineyards, and causes price fluctuations. The player earning the least in a round begins the next. No doubt about it--Rio Grande is having a vintage year.
Great bits, a superb presentation but based on a subject we thought a little "80s". Still, we sup on, hoping to imbibe these vinous delights with the hope that the game is not "corked".
Full credit to Goldsieber for maintaining their lavish production standards. I understand there are high hopes for this Christwart Conrad ([page scan/se=0201/sf=category/fi=stockall.asc/ml=20]Pfefferscke) design, but I fear that the premise might dislodge memory tracts from the time when similarly-titled work included tiny sets of wooden goblets and wine bottles, or, worse still, the opportunity to buy a crate of '77 Rio Grande at the knock-down price of 65. Dark days indeed, mirrored ominously by the apposite markers included here. Thankfully, there is no need to fall off the bar stool.
Vino is, crucially, no more than a pseudo stock market game, where tracts are established and their values raised and lowered. You compete to optimise these financial sliders (which are marginal, raising comparisons with Speculate). But the monetary process has proved enjoyable for the majority, disguised as it is by full-bodied and colourful material.
Let us imbibe, then:
Each wine growing area of Italy has a connecting track, plus a distribution centre to invoke territorial challenges. After the elaborate game setup, players secretly select two regions in which to cultivate their vines. Limited opportunities in each demand shrewd choices or a turn could wither and die. For example, Sardinia provides three grape varieties--Montepulciano, Pinot Grigio and Trebbiano. Excess counters don't even make it to the seed stage. If you are successful in establishing, or, crucially, already have a vineyard, markers are purchased at the price stated on the spaces (representing private and Government land), which in the case of Sardinia range from 80-300.
You may then sell any amount of one of your vintages at the value denoted on the player screens. Having determined a plunk to dispose of, your holding is reduced (for example, the sale of 13 Pinot Grigio, prompts the removal of three markers of that type) and its 'share' value is similarly reduced. This is recorded on a track on the Azure Blue and Pastel-coloured gameboard. Successful vintners then have to advance the price label (for this is their official epithet) of any other brand(s) of wine, thus artificially cultivating demand and deprivation.
Each player keeps a record of his activities on a Tally Board, using round wooden markers best suited to a Subbuteo pitch. It should be noted (and, I, initially didn't) that although there are nine regions, there are only five specific types of wine, so the sale of your Nebbiola in Toscana might be impaired by a competitor in Veneto. The markers will, of course, show your total holding for all geographical areas. This aide memoire also records the potential placement in each region.
The game ends when the last carafe marker is removed (initially placed in six of the nine areas) indicating 'maximum' capacity in these locations. This action triggers distribution of 'free' government land, and the chance to add to your holdings. Further sales will, of course, 'open' the market again. The player with the most vineyards is deemed victorious, with ties determined by cash (are we allowed to mention anything this common in such a refined business?).
So, do we have little more than a game of cat and mouse, where a canny operator will simply suss out his opponents in a grandiose hand of poker? Or is Vino a conspiratorially subtle challenge where the financial astute will inevitably triumph? It is both, my beloved drinking partners. But however much you quaff, a clear head is required or the equivalent of a gaming hangover will ensue. Vino enriched my palette, but there were dissenters who did not enjoy the game's strict regime nor the slightly abstract 'feel' despite Goldsieber dumping the full thematic kit upon us.