Review – King’s Vineyard from Mayday Games, designed by Sandeep Kharkar and Dave Haslam
Please note that a review copy of this game was provided by Mayday Games
Games about wine making seem to have been popular at this year’s Essen show and this is one of them. Less so about wine I guess but the growing of grapes in vineyards. King’s Vineyard is a card based game for 2-4 players aged 8+ where object is to gain points for growing grapes of the best quality as judged by the King during his three inspection visits.
The game comes with cards which are nicely illustrated with grapevines in four colors and combinations of colors representing hybrid grapes. There are also cards for the King, and different things that can help you grow and maintain your vineyard such as watering cans, shovels and lovely fertilizer. There are smaller cards which represent the vines and finally a set of cubes for scoring. I understand that in the newer release the cubes have been replaced by shaped pieces representing Goblets, Bottles and Barrels.
Everything is of good quality. Maybe not the best of cards and there seems to have been an issue with the first print run as to the cards but I don’t have a problem with my copy.
You shuffle the main deck and insert the three King cards inter-spaced to represent the 3 Kingly visits. The process of play is very straightforward as once you have drawn and discarded cards to get your playing hand, you proceed to then follow the steps of the growing process.
Wilt – existing vines start to wilt unless you can prolong their life with a watering can.
Harvest – All grapes on completely wilted vines are harvested and put in storage and held to determine the winner in the event of a tie.
Plant – You plant unripened grapes. The shovel allows you to plant an extra unripened grape plant.
Grow – Players add a leafy vine tile to each plant. The main grape card gives you a range of how many tiles you can place so you have a choice as to how long to grow them and risk harvesting before the King visits to get victory points. The fertilizer card gives you an extra leafy vine tile.
Ripen – You can turn your unripend grapes card to the ripened side when you think the time is right. Part of the challenge here is to try and time your ripening so as to get the best return on the King’s visit. You get points for how long the vines are as well as other things so timing is important.
Scoring comes in a variety of ways including more points for sweeter grapes, longer vines, number of grapes o f the same color, etc.
The turn process is easy to understand and follow. Little down time at all. There is no player interaction at all as your focus is only on your own vineyard. Not deep but all connected in a logical framework that moves along nicely.
Did it work for me?
Well in a word yes. You might think that this is a pretty dull game but you know what? It all works and works pretty well. There is nothing complicated or deep here but this is a reasonably fun game that doesn’t take long so you can get more than one session in. The artwork helps set the theme although there is some difficulty telling colors apart but nothing dramatic. The process of planting, growing, ripening, harvesting, etc. is clearly connected and keeps you moving through the deck quickly. An easy game for non-gamers to get into. It actually makes a relaxing change from other card based games out there. No conflict, no brain burning. Just process the cards through, create the best combinations of grapes, hold out as long as reasonable to get a good valuation from the King and there you go.
Boardgames in Blighty Rating – 6.5 out of 10
Yes, the age 8+ is spot on. This would be a good family night game.
For more information about Mayday games go to – http://maydaygames.com/