Digital Publisher: DigiDiced
Designer: Jamey Stegmaier
Playtime: 45 Minutes
Play Type: Digital Worker Placement
***This is a review of the digital adaptation of Viticulture. If you want my full review of the gameplay of Viticulture you can find that information here.***
- No Set Up/ Take Down Time
- Can be Played from a Distance
- Great Aesthetic
- Challenging AI
- Strong Tutorial for Beginners
- Fiddly User Interface
- Not Able to See All Board Information Easily
- Can’t See All Card Text at Once
- Game Crashes…A Lot
I am a huge fan of Viticulture, so I was very much looking forward to this digital port. We downloaded it and started playing it as soon as it was made available. I have now played the game several times both online and against AI.
The game looks amazing. The digital aspect gave the opportunity for the board to come alive with background music and slight animations that give it an engaging and somewhat calming feel. The designers opted for an all symbol based board, with no text available unless you click a tiny green question mark in the corner. While this looks significantly better, I think I would have preferred if the text was a permanent setting that could be turned on or off. Even with apps, I tend to prefer functionality over aesthetics, and the lack of information on the board felt significantly different from its physical counterpart.
In addition to the lack of information on the board, it was also difficult to see all the information that is usually available to players on the board and hand of cards. The game provides a variety of tabs to see different aspects of the board, including a tab for summer, winter, player boards, an extensive list of cards and individual player information. As someone who likes to see the whole picture, I was not a fan of not being able to at least see the whole board on the app at once. Additionally, there is no way for players to view their entire hand of cards at once. Players must individually click and hold cards to view them. While it is a small detail, once you get a lot of cards comparing them can be a struggle.
One thing I really liked though was how challenging the AI is. Even the “easy” AI will provide a challenge for players who are familiar with Viticulture. I enjoy when apps provide AI that I feel like I can play against multiple times without getting bored. It also gives me the opportunity to play with strategies I might not get the chance to try when we play at the table.
Other benefits of Viticulture Digital could be said for all digital games. It is very quick and easy to get an online game set up and ready to go. If you are looking for a time killer with a friend, it is significantly quicker than setting up and taking down a physical board. Additionally, during a time of quarantine and separation the ability to play games with friends from a distance is a great benefit!
While I have enjoyed playing the digital port of the game, I would highly suggest players who are playing for the first time to do the tutorial, even if you are familiar with Viticulture. The user interface is not always intuitive, and there is a lot less information readily available to the players without knowing where to click. The tutorial does a good job of walking players through how to find all this information, but it is not very interactive. It is more text based, so be prepared to read a mini rule book. If you have never played Viticulture, you should absolutely do the tutorial, or you will be completely lost.
I am hoping in future updates there will be some slight fixes which will make the game more enjoyable. Especially fixing the game crashing, which seems to happen to everyone who is playing at least two times per game. Even when playing against the AI I have the game crash at least twice a game. This is immersion breaking, and can be very frustrating. In fact, in my first online game with my husband and my mother we had to stop playing because it was so bad. It makes the game take a lot longer when waiting for the game to reload every few turns.
Overall I have enjoyed playing the Viticulture Digital. I’m not sure that it will be added to my usual digital rotation though, as I find the tabletop version significantly more enjoyable. I am hoping that eventually with added updates and hopefully some of the expansion that this game will really blossom. After a few plays, the game does become fairly self explanatory and the user interface does become easier to navigate. I would suggest it for those who may struggle to get Viticulture to their game table or for those who want to try and experience Viticulture before purchasing the full game.