First Impressions: Tuscany Essential Edition

Last weekend, we played Tuscany Essential Edition for the first time. We’ve played Viticulture a few times and preordered Tuscany from our FLGS. The last time I played Viticulture, I felt I finally understood the mechanics and the general strategy of the game to where each decision really made sense to me. So I was eager to see how Tuscany changed the game around.

We decided to go all in and play with all three modules from Tuscany EE. Overall, I enjoyed the extended board and the special workers (we had the Oracle and the Traveler). I love the idea of the structures, but for me, at least during this game, it wasn’t the most exciting part.

I guess I’ll start with the structures. I really like the idea of getting a couple of extra buildings that are only for me to use. The problem was, I got one that seemed really good that cost 8 lira at the start, and then the next one cost 2 lira that didn’t seem that great. I wasn’t in a good position to use the first, and didn’t want to use the second, so I kept going after structures until I found some that did fit my goals. By then, I got maybe one use out of them before the game ended and I wasted my time with obsessing over them instead of going for visitors or wine orders. I see that not as a problem with the structures themselves, but with my approach to them. Also, because I spent so much time focusing on getting some structures, I forgot the basic strategy I established last time and wanted to try again until about halfway through the game. Next time I play, I’ll likely not focus as much on structures at the start. Especially when my money needs to be going to more important things like the cellars and workers. I’ll wait until I’m more established first.

What I really enjoyed was the extended board. This part of it I don’t see myself playing without. The wake up chart gets redesigned to have multiple rewards throughout the year, with better rewards going later in wake up order. Previously, I chose my wake up order either based off what everyone else chose, or sometimes just to choose something. Now, if I want a particular kind of card, maybe I go in one spot, maybe another. The last spot lets me choose whatever kind of card I want, and also get the bonus worker. But taking the last spot means I must take the first spot next year and get no extra cards. So the premise of getting some of the good stuff now with more options of placement and card variety, means I get no choice next year. It was a balancing act that I really enjoyed. It also meant I was constantly flooded with cards. Because we played with just 2 players, we didn’t bother scoring the regional map as is suggested in the rules as a variant. Because of that, I didn’t really use it that often. Some of the structures I had allowed me to place and move the influence tokens, so had we focused on the regional map more, I may have used some of the structures I drew, which might have changed my opinion some on the structures.

The special workers were also a nice addition. I admit, I didn’t use the Oracle all that much. It was helpful a few times, but I didn’t see as much of a need with how many cards I was already getting. That said, the Traveler was a great addition. If my wife took an action I wanted, but I needed to save my Grande worker for a later action, I’ll just wait until the next season and send my Traveler back to do the action in a later season. It’s delayed gratification, but gratification all the same. I haven’t looked through the deck, plus we got 9 extra special workers due to preordering so I’m curious to see what all comes up next time we play. I can imagine some of these are probably circumstantial, but if there are more like the Traveler then I can see these being a great addition to the game.

Overall, I’m glad we got Tuscany. I think it’s a great addition to Viticulture, and I look forward to playing again. This is one of those expansions that I don’t see myself not using at least some part of it every time I play. I might not play with all the modules next time, just to see how it goes. I’m also glad I waited to get the Essential Edition of Viticulture and Tuscany. The price of the first edition originally turned me off. After playing Viticulture once, I enjoyed it, but didn’t feel the need to own it. But when they brought out the Essentials Edition, I was intrigued, and the price was better, so I went for it. I’m glad I waited because this is everything I want out of Viticulture.