Moor Visitors is a small expansion for Stonemaier Game’s Viticulture. It is compatible with any version of Viticulture, for this review it was used with the Essential Edition. Released back in 2016 the original designers Jamey Stegmaier and Alan Stone have been joined by famed designer Uwe Rosenberg. Adding in new visitors, variety is what this expansion aims to improve. The box also includes corrected reprints of the Promoter and Harvest Machine cards. Does Moor Visitors prove variety so the spice of life, at least in wine making? Let’s find out!
Coming with a total of 42 cards this mini expansion can be broken down into 20 Summer Visitors, 20 Winter Visitors, a replacement Promoter visitor card and a replacement harvest machine card. The visitors are shuffled into their respective decks from the base game, and the game is then played as normal. With only one card being orientated towards the Tuscany machine cards it matters not whether you have the Tuscany expansion.
Some of the new visitor cards can be extremely powerful, not unlike select base game cards. Use a couple of these new powerful cards in a game and your opponents may start to blame luck of the draw rather than marvel at our worker placement skills. One that springs to mind is a Winter visitor card which gives a 5 Lira discount on buildings, and does not even suggest a minimum price of 1 Lira. The catch is instead of discarding the card it is passed onto the player on your left. If this card appears early in the game players can swiftly construct a range of buildings, as the card is passed around the table. This results in the play Winter visitor card spaces being more hotly contested, though with easy access to all the buildings the dynamic changes slightly as Lira becomes less important.
Not every single card is this powerful, by far the majority are pretty consistent with the levels seen in the base game of Viticulture. There is a potential trend towards higher cost higher reward, “end game”, cards. It is a minute point that suggests to me that players may favour playing with Moor Visitors when using the Tuscany board, due to its greater scoring goal. Otherwise the cards are just new ways to score points, gain wine or pocket some Lira.
The cards are the same size and quality of the base game, and with the same coloured backings for their respective visitors, thus once shuffled in it is hard to remember what card came from where. This is to some extent key as even a slight colour gradient different would let players know it was one of the twenty Moor Visitor cards. After shuffling them in, even with the incredibly tiny circled MV in the top corner of the expansion cards, I would struggle to split them back out again. The cards seamlessly fit with the original decks of Summer and Winter visitors, and fit into the base game box. So, once shuffled in there is no reason, need or want to every split them out again.
Prepare to be a little underwhelmed by the contents of the Moor Visitors box. It is extremely small in nature and on top of this the 42 cards take up only a small percentage of the internal space. This leaves you a little disappointed despite knowing going into the unboxing what the expansion contains. This isn’t helped by the small card size that the Viticulture visitor cards use. If these were normal playing card size I feel the reaction to the initial box opening would have been different, but the size is necessary to stay consistent.
If, like me, Viticulture Essential Edition is one of your favourite games the Moor Visitors expansion has been designed with you in mind: it just adds little extra to the overall experience other than a touch of variety. While it fits seamlessly into the base game it does so by being more of the same. Uwe Rosenberg’s style shows in some minor ways but this doesn’t feel like a game changer. Bolstering the decks isn’t a bad concept, nor can Moor Visitors be described as a bad expansion. It goes some way to fix the issue of players knowing all the potential visitor cards from the base game. Moor Visitors manages to the keep the feel of the game the same, while failing to do anything inspiring. It boils down to not being a disappointment, just an underwhelming expansion.
[Editor’s Note: Viticulture – Moor Visitors was provided to us by Asmodee UK for review purposes. The game is currently available on 365 Games for £13.99. It is also available from local UK board game stores, find your local store here]