Review: Patchwork

Patchwork review

Handmade clothing is something most people don’t like. Especially when they are young, as you get older you develop an appreciation for things that are crafted with care and usually, handmade means quality. Typically though, making clothing results in lots of off-cuts. These off-cuts tend to lie around until they are either used as rags or stitched together to make some form of patchwork quilt/cloak or odd piece of clothing.

Patchwork is a game that follows the theme of actual physical patchwork. It may seem old fashioned but it’s more like physical game of Tetris than blanket making. Created by Uwe Rosenberg, this 2014 game has a pretty decent pedigree.

For the TL;DR version, click here.

Opening the box

Specs on the box:

  • 2 players
  • Ages 8+
  • 15 – 30 min

There is not much in the relatively small box. A pair of player boards, an assortment of tiles that represent the off-cuts of material and tokens of buttons that are used as currency. There’s also a timer board which is essentially a track along which moves a token for each of the players. When your token reaches the end of the track your game is over.

Finally there’s a marker piece.

Patchwork review
A baggie or 2 will tidy the box up. It does not have an insert because it does not really need one.

Theme

The game is based around the age old hobby of quilting. Primarily the domain of the old ladies, at church, and once a year the old ladies at school, who try to make blankets for the poor during the winter season. Recently patchwork has seen a resurgence and you will find quilts selling for some rather large sums of money. I blame the hipsters.

Gameplay

Setup is dead easy.

Place the timer board in the centre of the table there are a few special squares on the board that need to have the leather 1 x 1 sized patches placed on them. Arrange the remaining patches around it in a rough circle or oval, place the marker piece next to the 2 x 1 sized piece. Then give each player a board, and place their token on the starting position of the timer board. Finally each player is given 5 buttons to start with.

The first player is the person who last held a needle. That’s easy; finding out who is the current player is perhaps the trickiest part of the game. The timer board is a track upon which the players move and whoever is last on the track is the active player. Playing your turn will make you move a number of spaces on the track, if you’re still behind then you get to go again until you have overtaken the first player, then it’s his turn.

Patchwork review
Yellow to go… choices choices.

On your turn you can do 1 of 2 things. You can purchase a patch. The 3 patches directly in front of the marker are the patches that are available. Each patch has a dual cost, a cost in buttons and a cost in time. You pay the button cost and then move your piece on the timer board forward the required number of spaces indicated by an hourglass on the patch.

Next you take the patch and place it on your board. When you place the piece you need to ‘stitch’ it onto an existing piece and cannot move it once you’re happy with its placement. Lastly you move the marker to the spot that was previously occupied by the patch that you purchased.

Your other option is to gain buttons; this is very straight forward you move your piece forward on the time board until you are 1 space in the lead. The number of space that you moved is the number of buttons that you gain.

Patchwork review
There is an expensive patch in front of the marker. 7 buttons and 4 moves but it will give you 2 buttons back every so often…

Now the time board has some special spaces on it. If you pass a space that contains a leather 1 x 1 square patch then you claim that patch and add it to your board. NB: this is the only way to gain a 1 x 1 sized piece. The other special space is one that has a button on it. If you pass a button then you need to see how many buttons are on the patches that you have on your board. For each button you count you gain a button.

When you read the end of the timer board you are done playing. Once both players have ended their game the winner is the person with the most buttons. There is a catch, every empty space that you have on your board will cost you buttons, expect very low scores on your first game, even negative scores!

Conclusion

Patchwork is simple, deceptively simple. It’s very easy to learn and play but it has a surprising amount of depth. You may only have 2 choices but what you chose to do will impact what choices your opponent has during his turn.

Patchwork review
The player/quilt board is like a mini Tetris game in and of itself.

You could play to put him in a position to allow you to gain the best patch a turn from now or position things so that he only has very expensive patches to buy allowing you to have a double turn in the next round.

You don’t need to be playing on expert level, planning 2 turns ahead, all the time. You can simply enjoy playing right there and then. That’s part of the beauty of the game. It’s so easily accessible to almost any player. Some people are put off by the theme, usually the guys, but once they play it they tend to enjoy it.

I’ve played Patchwork with kids, teenagers, people my age and even with grandparents. Everyone found it an enjoyable game. Sure, it was not usually their first choice of game to play but often people will pop up and ask “Do you still have that patchwork game?” It’s easy to learn, does not take long to play and is very clever.

Can I play this at a braai?

It is only 2 players, I don’t know how often you only have 2 people at a braai but there are times when it happens. There are also times when you have 2 people who need to sit out for a bit and this game is really good to pass the time. You don’t feel pressured and you can leave to go and turn the chops and not really have to worry about missing much.

Patchwork review
Buttons! a.k.a money.

Thanks to Boardgame.co.za for the review copy of Patchwork.

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