Single Meeple Board games from a solo gamer's perspective

Viticulture: Visit from the Rhine Valley - A Solo Review

Viticulture: Visit from the Rhine Valley - A Solo Review

After running your vineyard for a few years you’re starting to make a bit of a name for yourself. This attracts new visitors during summer and winter. These people are especially interested in the process of making wine. Can you make them happy, and, more importantly, can they in turn help you improve your vineyard even more?

Name: Viticulture: Visit from the Rhine Valley
Designer: Jamey Stegmaier and Tido Lorenz
Publisher: Stonemaier Games
Game type: extra cards for the base game

Disclaimer: I paid for my copy of this game with my own money. I was not contacted or sponsored by the publisher for this review in any way.

If you're interested you can have a look at my review of Viticulture itself. I have also done a review for Tuscany Essential Edition, another, bigger expansion.

What is Viticulture: Visit from the Rhine Valley?

Visit from the Rhine Valley is a mini expansion for Viticulture. It contains 80 cards: 40 summer visitors and 40 winter visitors. Unlike with the Moor Visitors expansion, you don’t mix these with the visitor cards of the base. Instead, you decide which set of visitor cards you want to use at the start of game; those of the base game or those of the Visit from the Rhine Valley expansion.

So what’s different about these new visitor cards? While a lot of the visitor cards in the base game give various ways to directly score victory points, the visitor cards in this expansion have more to do with the wine business itself. Here are a few examples:

  • The Grape Merchant lets you sell up to three grapes for triple their value or discard 2 grapes to gain a blush wine of value 6 even if you don’t have a large cellar.
  • The Writer lets you discard 1 wine to gain 2 residual income or lose 2 residual income to gain either grape or wine of value 4.
  • The Premium Buyer lets you fill 1 wine order. If all of the wines used to fill the wine order were at least 2 higher than the necessary value, gain 2 points.
  • The Skeptic lets you upgrade your cellar to the next level at a 3 Lira discount or age 2 wines and fill 1 wine order.

There are of course still cards that give you victory points, but overall, the main focus of the cards is on the business of making and selling wine.

The visitor cards in this expansion have a slightly different background to easily tell them apart from the ones in the base game.

What is my overall verdict?

Personally, I was drawn to Viticulture because of the theme: making and selling wine on a rustic vineyard in Tuscany. I won’t say I don’t like the visitor cards in the base game, because I do like them, but I do have a slight preference for the ones in this expansion. They really put more focus on the wine business and that’s something I like.

I had heard that the Visit from the Rhine Valley expansion would make it more difficult to score points when playing solo, but after a few games, I don’t believe that is the case. I am not very good at Viticulture and I rarely win, but my scores with the cards from the base game and with the cards from this expansion are, on average, roughly the same.

So, does this expansion improve the base game? Hard to say, since it depends on your personal preferences of what you like and do not like in the game.

I can see two reasons to get this expansion: you want to have a more thematic focus on the wine business, or you’ve played Viticulture so many times that you want to change things up a bit. If you’re in either of those categories, you will enjoy this mini expansion.

Score

To make things easier for myself, I use the same scoring categories Board Game Geek uses.

8/10 Very good - enjoy playing and would suggest it.

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