My first thought when it arrived was "this is bigger than I imagined" as I was expecting a box similar in size to Spyfall, Codenames or many other party games. The purple box with golden letters is about 27x27 and as my husband pointed out, it looks fancy.
The game's instructions couldn't be easier... You go around a board moving according to a dice roll. Once you arrive to a place, it's marked with one of eight different categories or, if you're lucky, with a "Pick Any Card" which will probably make life easier if you have a stronger area of knowledge.
There are the categories:
- Spain & Portugal
- Germany, Austria & Hungary
- Australia, New Zealand & South Africa
- The Americas
- Fortified, Sparkling and Sweet Wines
- General, Viticulture & Vinification
This Trivial Pursuit-like mechanics come with an innovation: Depending on a player's level of wine knowledge, points can be given with three different levels of difficulty. The questions come with three possible answers, but if you play "pro" you don't get to listen to this part and have to answer correctly yourself. If you're "novice" or "getting there", you might get extra points if you answer straight away, but if you don't know the answer, you get to hear the three options and still get -less- points if you guess the right one.
As I took the game to a friend's house to test it, we found out this was key as it managed to offer a real challenge to wine geeks while giving newbies a chance to win the game and actually learn stuff about wine.
We noticed that the questions had varying levels of difficulty within the same category and that the game played in a very relaxed way. In fact, you can stop whenever you want so we agreed to play ten rounds. This is excellent if you are at a party and want to do something while waiting for other guests, or just to entertain yourselves for a while but don't want to commit to a super long board game.
Another thing, the dice roll and how far do you get in the board only had the function of have you landing in categories, as the points were giving for getting right answers and not for being the one further on the board at any given point. While no one minded, that'd be a bit of room for improvement, as the moving around was used more as a roulette to choose the category than as a way to mark progress.
The Quality of the Pieces
The board is thick and sturdy, and the colours are vibrant and the texture smooth. It feels like very good quality. The cards are neat as well, and even though the material is slightly thin, the paper is nice and the print work looks polished. The questions come with a "Nice to know" line at the bottom which is always interesting. We enjoyed reading this fun facts after every turn.
The only thing that wasn't up to the rest of it were the meeples -the little tokens- that represent each player on the map. Maybe it's just a personal preference, but they were plastic and hollow so it contrasted with the luxurious feeling of everything else. Wooden meeples or -maybe this is a logistic nightmare but I'm just putting it out there- meeples made of wine corks would have been so much nicer.
The game will appeal more to people who want to learn about wine than to people that are used to playing more challenging board games. It's fun, easy to learn and you can play for as long as you want so it feels very casual and party-friendly.
You can appreciate it that the questions were made by someone that knows their wines -a certified wine educator actually- but they feel more like a game show than like study material, which is great.
If you and your friends enjoy gathering over a bottle of wine while playing something casually and talking, this will be a lovely thing to have, but if you enjoy sitting for hours to develop complex strategies and play with 3D-printed warrior shaped figures, maybe instead of World of Wine, you should check out World of Warcraft.
For more information or to buy it online visit wineschoolofexcellence.co.uk/winegames