Viticulture review – let’s get (the) physical (version of the game)

Viticulture is a board game that you need to understand deeply before you can enjoy it. In a physical setting that’s fine, because you’ve got a partner in your learning. You can stop and check the rules, discuss what they mean, and figure things out together.

You don’t get that luxury with this digital version. You get told what to do in a simple tutorial, and then you’re left to your own devices. To say it’s overwhelming would be something of an understatement. Your first handful of games are going to be exercises in trial and error and you’re likely to get pretty darn frustrated.

The game sees you running a vineyard. You need to place workers, pick grapes, ferment wine, and sell the produce. Games are split into different turns and seasons and there are actions to take in all of them.

Knowing what to do, especially in those first few games, is going to be an uphill struggle. The tutorial explains things, but in a barrage rather than a smooth trickle. You’re going to take a beating, even at the lowest difficulty setting.

It’s a real shame, because Viticulture feels like one of those games that could have offered something different. The setting in particular is an intriguing one, and there’s a number of bright ideas that, once they shine through, are pretty impressive.

The seasons are one of those. You don’t just need to know what to do in one, you need to plan ahead and make sure you’ve got workers and cards to use in the others. You select a family at the start of the game too, and they give you different boosts and buffs.

You can choose from three different bonuses for your Papa.

The UI doesn’t help things either. It’s cluttered and cumbersome, with important information hidden in corners and presented in tiny digits. Nothing feels natural or fluid. In fact, it quite often feels like you’re fighting against the presentation to try to get to grips with what’s happening.

Underneath all of these problems there is an engaging experience, but it’s such a slog to get to that a lot of players will abandon Viticulture before they get there. The amount of work that you need to put in just isn’t worth it in the end, and you’re going to put the game down and find something that scratches your digital board game itch in more pleasing ways.

Viticulture fans are at an advantage; already knowing what you’re doing is definitely a boon, and bypasses a lot of the problems this version of the game has. Think of it as a much more portable version of a game you already love.

Coming in fresh is going to leave your head spinning though. If you’re looking for a new game to add to your digital board game nights, then there are definitely better options out there.


When things finally click, you’ll find some really interesting strategy underlying the experience. Figuring out whether to take your turn first, or wait and gain some bonus cards and coins, adds another layer to proceedings and will test your understanding of the other mechanics.

Verdict: 56%

An interesting game that’s obscured at almost every turn. Give the physical version a try instead.

Genre: Board game
Format: iOS (tested) / Android / Steam
Developer: Digidiced
Publisher: Digidiced
Price: £8.99
Release: Out now

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