Review: Patchwork

When the bulk of your gaming takes place with one other person, you tend to look for games that will accommodate having only two people while still offering some good gameplay. If that person is your significant other, you also tend to look for games that they will find interesting as well. Needless to say, when I saw a two-player game about quilting I knew I had to get it for my quilt-making fiancé.

Today we’ll be talking about Patchwork, a little two-player game published by Mayfair Games and designed by Uwe Rosenberg. Each player is a quilter that will purchase various patches of fabric (using buttons as a form of currency) to add to their ever-growing quilt. The patches of fabric have both a cost in buttons and an hourglass representing the amount of time it will take to sew the patch onto your quilt. Some of them even have buttons printed on them, which help build your income.

PatchworkTo set the game up, lay the patches out in a circle around the table with the time tracker in the center. Find the smallest patch and place the wooden marker to the right…er…left…um…place it after the piece, clockwise. The three clockwise pieces past this marker are the ones that are available for purchase on a player’s turn. Give each player five buttons and a quilt board.

On your turn you may take one of two options. Either spend buttons to purchase a patch and place it onto your quilt board, or move your time marker forward until you are one space above the other player. When taking the second action, you will collect buttons based on how many spaces you have advanced. The time tracker also has buttons and single space patches on it…and if you pass one you either take the patch or collect “button income” based on the buttons present on your quilt.

Play proceeds in an interesting fashion here. The person who is last on the time track is the one that will take their turn. If, after their turn, they are still further back than the other player, they continue to take turns until the pass them. The game continues until both players have reached the end of the time track, and the person with the most buttons wins.

Patchwork combines a tile placement game with…well, Tetris. You’re going to get to a point where you’ll spin each piece two or three different times looking for a way to fit it onto your board before making your decision. The game plays quickly and making the quilt will be enjoyable, and maybe a little relaxing. Of course, you lose points for empty spaces at the end so you’ll really want to fill as many spots as you can.

This obviously isn’t a deep game…there’s not a lot of strategy involved on your turn, and the player interaction is almost nonexistent. But that’s okay – it’s a two-player game which is supposed to play in 15 minutes. It’s meant to be a quick appetizer or a tasty dessert around an evening of gaming. Or maybe just a quick shot when you don’t have time for something more.

PatchworkMy only quibbles with the game are minor. Taking the second action, which will move you up on the time track and give you buttons, almost never feels like a good idea. True, it gives you income, but you’re also eating up time. And there’s not really a way to catch up. If you happen to miss out on patches that have buttons on them repeatedly, and they go to the other player? You’re sunk. In our last game I was netting 17 buttons when I passed the last couple of income points. It’s hard to overcome.

Is Patchwork the right game for you? Well, the game plays in 15 minutes. It’s easy to pick up and learn, and is going to be a little different every time. Sure, there are a couple issues…but you won’t notice them all that much. So if you’ve got a person in your life that you play games with who might enjoy a bit of quilting and a bit of gaming? Go ahead and sew this one into your collection.

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