I play a lot of different games but I have to admit I really enjoy a nice heavy game. Vinhos Deluxe Edition from Eagle Gryphon Games is a heavy board game about wine making that I have been itching to try for a long time.
So far I’ve only played one two-player game, and I know we messed up one rule already but I thought it would be worth sharing my thoughts on Vinhos so far.
Disclosure: Some links in this post are affiliate links. Using these links doesn’t cost you anything extra and it helps support this blog and our podcast. As an Amazon affiliate I earn from qualifying purchases. Eagle Gryphon Games kindly provided me with a copy of Vinhos Deluxe for review. No other compensation was provided.
Since originally publishing these initial thoughts I have played Vinhos Deluxe a number of times. Check out my full Vinhos Deluxe Review to see if my opinion has changed since publishing this review.
Thoughts on what you get with Vinhos Deluxe Edition.
Vinhos Deluxe Edition comes in a big box. A big awkward box that I’m not sure how I’m going to store on my shelves eventually. I think it may be larger and wider than Lords of Waterdeep. It’s definitely heavier. There is a ton of cardboard in this box. It’s so much that when you buy the game the lid doesn’t even fit. Thankfully once you open it and punch everything out it all fits great.
The box includes a serviceable insert. It’s not the best I’ve seen but it’s way better than most publisher provided box inserts. It’s a great storage solution for the various player components and the vineyards but then everything else is just open compartments that are generic and can fit what you want. It’s no custom insert with a spot for everything, but it works.
The actual components are great. The cardboard is some of the thickest I have seen. All of the tiles and tokens are nice and meaty and easy to handle. The wooden components are solid. The player colours are colourblind friendly. The money is represented by thick chits. Part of me wishes it was represented by metal coins, but I get that the chits are to represent paper bills and we all know that most people hate paper money in games.
The board is colourful without being garish and the iconography is excellent.
The game comes with three booklets. Two of which are rulebooks and a third that is a reference booklet. This reminds me of the modern Fantasy Flight system and I found it just as annoying. When playing you use one book to set up, then go to another book for how to play, then back to the first book to find out what all of the tiles mean, then back to the rule book again. In this case, I would have preferred two thicker rulebooks even if it meant some information was duplicated.
Overall Vinhos Deluxe is one of the better looking games in my collection.
For an actual look at what comes in the box check out my Vinhos Deluxe unboxing video.
Vinhos Deluxe Edition looks great, but how does it play?
After punching Vinhos Deluxe Edition I went online to figure out which version of the rules I should try to learn first. The game comes with a 2010 Reserve Rulebook and a 2016 Vintage Rulebook. The 2010 Reserve rules are a somewhat updated version of the original Vinhos rules from the original printing of the game from 2010. Based on what I read they are significantly heavier than the updated 2016 rules. So I took the time to sit down and read the new 2016 Rulebook.
The Rulebook is decent, when it’s not having you flip between two books. Lots of pictures. A detailed example is provided for every step of the game and there are some good notes calling out harder to remember items or rule changes based on player counts.
While this is a heavy game I wouldn’t call it overly complicated. I found Vinhos Deluxe easier to learn and teach than Anachrony. We played a single two-player game last night using the 2016 Vintage Rules.
The game plays out over six rounds and each round you are going to get to do two actions. Actions are selected from a “Quadrel.” This is a three by three grid where you have a worker playing piece. You must move your worker each round. Moving to an adjacent square is free, but moving two squares costs you $1. Also if you move on to a square with another player(s) you have to pay them $1, finally there’s a round marker that moves each round if it’s on a square you move to you have to pay another $1 to the bank.
Actions include buying new vineyards, building a winery on an estate, selling wine to the local market, shipping wine overseas, building a cellar, hiring farmers or oenologists, hiring wine experts, or passing/sending a press release.
Without getting into too much detail since this is just an initial thoughts review, you basically buy vineyards to make wine. Wineries, cellars, farmers and oenologists improve the quality of your wine. Selling wine makes you money. Shipping wine makes you victory points. Press releases are for the wine tasting competition that happens three times during the game and wine experts give you bonus actions and can help you during tastings. Weather and the whims of the wine magnates also have an impact on wine quality and value.
The wine tastings are worth mentioning as they are a big part of the game. At the end of years three, five and six there is a big wine tasting festival. Each player submits one of their wines for judging. Primary scoring is based on the quality of the wine but this can be boosted through the use of the reputation of the region the wine comes from. It can be further boosted by using the right wine experts. Each year the judges are looking for different qualities and there are four of these that include alcohol percentage, nose, taste and appearance. Players also choose which booth to display their wine at which gives a bonus and sets player order for the next stage. Once players are finished with this “press release” stage, points are awarded based on how many points were earned at the tasting, with first place getting the most points, second getting less and so on. With four players the player in last gets no points but does get a free expert tile.
The interesting thing here is that points earned in the first tasting fair carry over to the next fair and points from that carry over into the last tasting. This is meant to represent the hype and brand knowledge of your winery.
Then you go to the magnates. These wine professionals are going to take a look at the wine you submitted. There are three of them and their tastes change every season. One will either want a white or red wine. The second wants wine of a certain quality. The last one is only interested in wines from specific regions. If you impress the magnates you unlock more barrels which will let you sell and ship more wine.
Then you can sell wine to purchase magnate action tiles and magnate multiplier tiles. The magnate action tiles let you take bonus actions during the game, while the multiplier tiles are for end game scoring.
As I’m sure you can tell there’s a lot going on in Vinhos Deluxe but it’s never too much. The individual actions are all rather simple to carry out and there isn’t anything like chain interactions where when you do one thing it causes something else to happen. All of the complexity and weight comes with trying to figure out how exactly to use these actions to make you the most points.
You have a white wine with a quality of 6. Do you build a cellar making its’ worth go up by 1 now and more every round you let it sit? Do you sell it to a local business so you can have the $6 you need to invest in another vineyard? Or maybe that’s the wine you should send to the tasting festival because the magnates are looking for a white wine with a value of 6 or more this year. It’s these agonizing decisions that really make the game.
Vinhos is tight and unforgiving. You only get two actions a year and making those count is tough! You not only have to watch things like the weather and the whims of the magnates but you also have to be keenly aware of how much money you have and how much money you need. You have to do all of this while watching your opponents because which actions they take is going to directly impact your costs. Then there’s trying to figure out what wine your opponent is going to send to the tasting fair. So much to think about! That brain is going to burn.
Overall thoughts on Vinhos Deluxe Edition with only one play
At this point, I’ve only played Vinhos Deluxe Edition once and only with two players and I was extremely impressed by what I saw. Midway through the game, we did realize that we had played one part wrong. We weren’t clearing out the magnate tiles at the end of the round. While this did impact our final scores I don’t think it changed the actual gameplay in any significant way.
Vinhos Deluxe is a nice meaty heavy game that doesn’t go too far. It’s not overly hard to learn or teach. The actual rules and mechanics are straightforward. Where the difficulty comes is in trying to figure out how best to use those simple mechanics to score you the most points. It’s a very tight game where you never have nearly enough time or actions to do everything you want to do. Choices can be agonizing and AP (analysis paralysis) is going to be an issue for some game groups.
Overall I had a great time playing Vinhos Deluxe. It played very well with two players. I expect it to be even better with more players as there would be a lot more interaction when choosing actions and during the tasting fair. I had a feeling Vinhos was going to be my kind of game and I was right. I’m really looking forward to getting this to the table more often and sharing it with my regular game group and the local gamers.
I’m also looking forward to trying the 2010 Reserve rules at some point, but not until I get in a few more games with the new, easier, ruleset.
Have you played Vinhos Deluxe? What did you think? If you’ve played both the 2010 and 2016 versions I would love to know which version you prefer.