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Not a Patch on You - Patchwork Board Game Review

T Updated February 04, 2020
 
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Not a patch on you- Patchwork review

Game Information

Game Name
Publisher
Players
2 - 2
There Will Be Games

The range of theme in hobby games took a long time to break out of its geek origins. The majority of games were sci-fi, fantasy, or real world war based with little consideration given to gentler colours. As the hobby grows, and especially from the German school of design, we got themes of farming, trading in the Mediterranean, and farming.

In recent years we have seen an explosion of different themes from birds, to city building and even making quilts. Forget all those other themes though, who wants to make a quilt? No-one? Hear me out.

Patching up

From the mind of Uwe Rosenberk comes Patchwork (AL), a seemingly gentle two-player game of making a patchwork quilt. It is anything but gentle. It’s a battle. A contest of anticipation, resource management and your Tetris skills.

The premise is simple enough. Fill out this 9x9 grid, with polyonimo patches (we will get to those in a moment).

PatchworkNot a patch on you

The winner of the game is the person who has the most buttons by the end, deducting buttons for empty spaces left on your board. Starting with a mere 5 buttons, every turn you’ll consider which of 3 patches to stitch into your quilt and they’ll cost an amount of buttons and time to add in.

A Stitch in Time

There is one more board we haven’t looked at yet and this is the crux of the game, where the real battle will take place.

PatchworkIt’s a great looking game.

On this board stand two pieces, one for each player, a bunch of single square patches, that you can’t get round the circle of patches and a winding track to the centre. The track pulls us down the whirlpool of time towards the end of the game. Our job is to get our board filled before it pulls us under.

Each turn you’ll consider one of the three patches in front of the big wooden pawn you can see in the picture above. Every single patch is a different shape and can be put on your board in any orientation; twist, turn it, put it upside down. Filling up the board is a very satisfying thing to do, balanced with those moments of face palming when you realise you’ve absolutely screwed up. Such is the way of the patchist.

PatchworkFiendish puzzle underneath the quilt.

Back to this central board. Whenever you add a patch to your quilt, you spend time on the central board, moving your piece a number of squares towards the centre equal to that time. Cross one of the single square patches and it joins the others on your board. Cross a button marker and you earn the number of buttons showing on your patches. Reach the centre, the game is over for you.

You’ve got to spend buttons to make buttons. In adding patches to your board you are not only considering how much area they cover and how much they cost in time and buttons, but also how much they can make you. If a patch has buttons on it then every time you cross a button on the central board you are going to make those buttons back. Buy a patch, move the pawn to where that patch was and your opponent has a whole new set of problems to consider. This can be manipulated to your advantage and you'll find on your turn not only considering what to buy for yourself, but what opportunities your choice will give your opponent.

PatchworkThe second patch here costs 7 buttons and 4 spaces of movement to add. It gives 2 buttons back every time you cross a button on the central board.

 

Did you know that a clever patchist can manipulate time? Turn order is not determined by a simple back and forth, but rather who is nearest the start of the track, furthest from the finish, however you want to think about that. If you are smart you can sometimes get two or three turns in a row and it is a great feeling when you manage to pull this off.

Patching up

Patchwork is an excellent piece of design hanging tricky choices on an easy to understand framework. For such a tiny game it has moments of emotional highs that rank up there with the biggest boardgame epics; the satisfaction when the correct piece slides into place, the elation of correctly manipulating the turn order, the frustration as you realise you shouldn’t have put that one where you did!

I wasn’t sure about Patchwork when I first picked it , I had no two player only games at the time, but I have loved every game of it. Easy to teach, difficult to master (unless you are a tetris fiend like my wife) it’s one of the best two player games out there.

 

Photos

Not a patch on you- Patchwork review

Editor reviews

1 reviews

Rating 
 
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1 reviews
Iain McAllister  (He/Him)
Associate Writer and Podcaster

Iain McAllister lives in Dalkeith, Scotland with his wife Cath and their two dogs, Maddie and Gypsy. He has been a keen member of the local gaming scene for many years setting up and participating in many of the clubs that are part of Edinburgh's vibrant gaming scene.

You can find more of his work on The Giant Brain which publishes a wide range of articles about the hobby including reviews, previews, convention reports and critique. The Giant Brain is also the home of the Brainwaves podcast, a fortnightly podcast covering industry news that Iain hosts with his friend Jamie Adams.

Articles & Podcasts by Iain McAllister

 

Iain McAllister
Associate Writer and Podcaster

Articles & Podcasts by Iain

 

 

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birdman37's Avatar
birdman37 replied the topic: #306842 04 Feb 2020 16:48
Nice article, thanks for bringing some attention to one of my most played games!

You neglected to mention how passing works - it's most often an (unfortunate) mandatory choice when you simply can't afford any of the next three patches, but sometimes, just sometimes, it's the smartest choice to make.

This is one of the few games I own where we happily write people's top scores in the box lid.
thegiantbrain's Avatar
thegiantbrain replied the topic: #306851 05 Feb 2020 06:54
I don't always dive down into all the mechanics of a given game, in fact in general I've been trying to move to a more narrative style over the last year when reviewing games. It's always a struggle to get the balance between mechanical explanation and emotional feel correct.
Ah_Pook's Avatar
Ah_Pook replied the topic: #306852 05 Feb 2020 07:14
Have you tried Patchwork Express? I didn't see the need to check it out, as I have Patchwork and my wife and I love it. But a friend of mine got Express, and it's legit the same game in half the time. Didn't seem to lose anything in the translation.
thegiantbrain's Avatar
thegiantbrain replied the topic: #306862 05 Feb 2020 11:28
I've not tried it yet. I would like to just as a comparison. I honestly have never thought that Patchwork was too long. Have you tried the roll & write version at all?
Ah_Pook's Avatar
Ah_Pook replied the topic: #306863 05 Feb 2020 11:48
That's the funny thing, I still don't think Patchwork is too long. Express is like a magic trick of fitting the same game in half the time. I haven't felt the need to buy it, it's just an interesting thing.
birdman37's Avatar
birdman37 replied the topic: #306871 05 Feb 2020 17:26

thegiantbrain wrote: It's always a struggle to get the balance between mechanical explanation and emotional feel correct.

Clearly you've never been forced to pass when your opponent is 6+ spaces ahead of you on the time track, you've got a half-filled quilt, and there's already precious little time remaining in the game. Take my word for it: it's truly gut-wrenching! :)
birdman37's Avatar
birdman37 replied the topic: #306872 05 Feb 2020 17:31

Ah_Pook wrote: That's the funny thing, I still don't think Patchwork is too long. Express is like a magic trick of fitting the same game in half the time. I haven't felt the need to buy it, it's just an interesting thing.

Original Patchwork lasts the perfect amount of time. I will never have any need for a game that lasts for half a beer.