Review: Vineta

Posted by James (admin) on October 2nd, 2010

In Vineta, players are Norse gods trying to sink the city of Vineta in order to score points primarily by removing houses from the sunken sections.  The game board is made up of nine city sections that fit together to create make a city comprising of 3 rings of 3 areas. Lots of coloured houses are placed on the city areas at the start by the players (usually quite spread out).

Each player has a hand of cards and two secret objective tiles – one shows which city area the player will get bonus points for if it is the one area that survives, and the other tile shows which colour of houses they will get bonus points for if any of that colour survive too.

Each round, players take turns playing a card from their hand.  Cards fall into two main types – wave cards and special actions. Wave cards have a value of 1 to 4 and, at the end of the round, the city area with the highest wave total will sink. A player can either start a threat against a city area (which must border the sea and a player can only start one threat each round), or they can add their card to the pile already threatening a city area.  Special action cards let players move already placed cards between the piles, remove cards completely, extend or reduce the number of turns this round, move houses between the city areas, and so on.

When 3 turns have been played (or more/less if special action cards have increased/reduced this), the city area with the highest wave card total sinks.  The houses on the sunken city area are destroyed and these are shared out between the players who played wave cards on that city area in the order in which the carss were played (as each card has an icon showing who played it).  The houses are given out to the players in the order of who placed cards on the pile – if there are more destroyed houses than cards then they continue to be distributed from the start of the card pile until they are all gone.  So, playing one or more wave cards into one city area can gain you multiple houses; however, players will be using their special action cards to move the houses around too so that they get as many houses (or their opponents get as few houses) as possible.

After 8 rounds the game ends and one city area will have survived.  Each house a player has collected is worth 1 point plus any bonus points if the city area and/or coloured houses matches their secret tiles.  As it is more likely that the outer city areas will sink (because they are always a potential target), the bonus for their survival is much greater than for the inner city areas.

Overall, Vineta is a fun game and not to be taken too seriously.  The theme is cute and the board attractive with its different removable sections.  There are definitely strategies to try and execute with the cards you have in your hand so that the situation at the end of a round benefits you as much as possible (and not your opponents).  So, there is thinking and cunning to be found in Vineta.  However, things can change very quickly and your plans can be spoilt by other players without them even realising they did so.  So, it can feel a bit chaotic.

As we played, we started to realise how moving houses around could really affect the outcome of a round.  Sometimes a few players tried to sink one house-rich area and then suddenly abandon that when a player moved most of the houses to a different location.  There are some very humorous moments when a single card forces a groan from another player when they realise their plan has just been foiled and they need to devise a new plan.

The gamers I played with are all experienced gamers and we enjoyed it as a light game that had fun value.  If you’re looking for a serious challenge , I’m not sure it will satisfy you, but I did enjoy it and I think the less-serious games group I play with will enjoy it too.  With 6 players,  a lot can happen between the moments you have to influence the game and we all agreed that it would be less chaotic and you would have more control with fewer players.  We thought it would probably play best and be more tactical with 4 players.

When you start a threat on a city area, you place your god icon token on the area and start a pile of cards.  The icon on your card shows who started it.  However, I would have preferred it if the players’ god icons were shown along one of the board edges so that the wave cards threatening an area could be placed next to the relevant symbol matching the token on the city area.  The reason for this is that it can be a little confusing to look at the card stacks when the first card has been moved or removed by a special action as then it doesn’t match the icon on the board.  In future, I shall lay the stacks of cards next to the area they threaten as it’s much easier to see which card stack affects what that way.

I’m glad I picked up a copy of Vineta as it had intrigued me for a while and I wanted to play it.  It may not be too deep but it’s fun, light, fast and enjoyable if you’re looking for that type of game.


[Played with 6 players]

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