A close up photograph of a player's store card with 2 radishes, a cabbage, a bean, a pumpkin and a wheat token on it.

Wine and Veg

Jobby and Sarah explore two important food groups while continuing their 2017 gaming challenge…

The Challenge Continues

We’re running out of year and Sarah and I still need to complete our 2017 challenge. Who will be the victor after 11 best-of-three matches? We’ve played nine and Sarah leads five matches to four. Despite being left behind I’ve been making up ground and it looks like I could win this challenge. I just need to win three games straight. First up is Viticulture.

Wine Again!

I’ve covered one of our previous plays of Viticulture on this site in Mad Castles and Wine Making. In that game I really beat Sarah. She got her own back in the following game so this match has gone to decider.

As mentioned, I was under pressure to win this match. I was not happy about this as I wasn’t confident I could win this. Viticulture is a race game with the first player hitting 20 VP triggering the end of the round. Sarah is normally good at hitting points first, the odds didn’t look good for me.

Viticulture has a variable set up with a player’s starting resources being dictated by a couple of dealt cards. One of the cards often offers the player the choice between a building or some cash. I chose the building I was offered which was the tasting room. To make the most of it, I got some rubbish wine made early and began offering tours of my vineyard which got me a point each time. Sarah soon got wise to this and began blocking me. Hmph.

My confidence at winning continued to diminish. I hadn’t got any good vine cards early and the couple of order cards I was holding wanted either blush wine or blush and sparkling! These are the most difficult wines to make in this game. My heart sank but I figured I would work out how to get the orders fulfilled as they were worth a lot of points.

This left me apparently flagging behind while Sarah was making her way up the score track. I was really beginning to think I had lost this! Suddenly I began to see a series of actions that would lead to me completing both orders on the same turn, bringing me up to the target 20 VPs! Sarah, however, was close to 20 so if she completed a big order on the same turn then I would lose. I went for it…

I completed the first order and hopped up the track by a decent 5 VPs. “You’re going to finish the game this round, aren’t you?” asked Sarah. I refused to comment. Sarah fulfilled an order which brought her up to 19 points. She didn’t seem to have much left to do. I played my Winter Helper card which let me fulfil an order and delivered the second order to hit 20 VPs. Sarah had nothing left to do and couldn’t make up the last point. Victory to me! Whew!

From Fruit to Veg

Now we switched from growing grapes to growing veg. The main theme of fulfilling customer’s order remained, though, as we took on the decider game of At the Gates of Loyang (last reported on in To Market, To Market!). Sarah always tells me this is my game and, despite this match going to three games, I was happy that I would probably win this match and stay in the running.

As it happens, things went pear shaped very early on. I took a regular customer who required beans and took the risk of taking a loan to buy a bean from the shop. Only then did I realise that I had the wrong field to plant a bean! I could only deliver this customer’s order once and then I was scrabbling around trying to find a market that supplied beans. Really, really not a good start!

A full view of a player's board in At the Gates of Loyang with 2 regular and 2 casual customers.
A photo from a previous play. I wasn’t doing so well this time.

Somehow I managed to get back on track. This game has an unusual feature where players have to buy their way up the score track. Each round the first space costs 1 cash, any further spaces cost the number printed on them. It pays to buy lots of spaces early on as it can get very expensive later on! Well, in one turn I managed to buy four spaces, forcing Sarah to buy three to keep up!

That felt good but I had to keep the pressure on. I knew that loan I’d taken really early would cost me a space on the score track at the end of the game. I had to finish a point ahead of Sarah and have more money to win the tie-break to win the game. This was going to be hard.

In fact, it turned out to be nigh-on impossible. I succeeded in finishing on the same score as Sarah before taking my loan into account. She though I’d won but she had forgotten about that point stripping loan. Game and match to Sarah!

Final Results

That left us with six matches to Sarah and four to me, meaning Sarah had won the challenge with a game left to play! For the second year running Sarah did that and again I found myself dishonoured and owing the victor a burger.

Oh well, Jobby, better luck in 2018!

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