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.

Game Day – The New and The New Old

[dropcap background=”yes” bgcolor=”#176D13″]W[/dropcap]inters in Vermont (especially this one) can be bitter cold with miserable weather. This makes you want to do nothing but curl up inside and play some games…which is what we’ve been doing! Let’s catch up on some of the titles to hit my table recently. Some were new, some were old favorites, and some were old games that were new to me.


The New

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PatchworkAh, Uwe Rosenberg. He’s on this little list more than once. Patchwork is a wonderful little two-player game where players use various cuts of fabric to make a quilt. The catch is that all the fabric tiles are different shapes and sizes, each costing you a certain amount of time to place on your quilt. This is quite thematic, as it is much easier to sew a square into an actual quilt than a Tetris shaped piece. Buttons are the currency here, and some of the quilt patches have buttons on them to help you build an economy to keep things moving along.

This game really threads the needle when it come to two-player games. The gameplay is simple, but the fabrics you choose can pin you down later on if you aren’t careful – you lose points for empty squares at the end. Any gamer will appreciate this game, and if you know a gamer that quilts, even better.


Steam Park

Steam ParkMy brother and his wife recommended this one to us, and I can see why. Steam Park is a light, fun romp where players build an amusement park…….for robots. Marie Cardouat, best known for her work on Dixit, was the illustrator for this game. The surreal style of art makes the game even more thematic – of COURSE a robot would ride a metal octopus ride!

The gameplay features real time dice rolling, a race of sorts, which is actually reminiscent of the building round in Galaxy Trucker. It adds a fun little press your luck element to the game as you try to keep rolling to get the results you want while hoping your opponents don’t finish first. It’s a light, fun game that acts as a wonderful opener to a gaming evening.


The New Old

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Airlines Europe

Airlines EuropeWhen looking at Alan Moon’s catalog of work, it’s hard to see past the behemoth that is Ticket to Ride. That game is so successful and has produced so many expansions that Moon can be mistaken for a one-hit wonder. Airlines Europe is an excellent reminder that this designer has more than one trick up his sleeve.

In what is essentially a stock game, players will purchase routes for one of several airlines, place a marker on this route, and adjust the price of that company’s stock. The game is so easy to grasp, at least from a rules standpoint. But at about turn three, when you see what is really going on, you suddenly stare at the board in wonder. Manipulating the market, knowing when it’s time to cut and run, jumping on underdeveloped airlines…it’s a lot to pack into a deceptively simple ruleset. But Moon pulls it off and this is a great game to help bridge the gap between a gateway game and the heavier games one will encounter.


Ora & Labora

Ora & LaboraUwe, Uwe, Uwe. You magnificent bastard. I’ve always enjoyed Rosenberg’s games, from Agricola right down to Bohnanza. But this one eluded me for years. It was only in print for a short time, and my gaming was at a different phase back then. Finally I was able to trade for this rare gem, and I’m glad that I did.

In Ora & Labora each player is attempting to grow their plot of land into a thriving society based on work and prayer. I’d get into the gameplay, but there’s no concise way to do it and this would wind up turning into a full blown review. Suffice it to say that we fell in love with this game about halfway through our first play. It combines elements of city building, tile placement, set collecting, and worker placement (among other mechanics) to make a wonderful stew which each player will partake of using their ONE action per round. It’s really a masterpiece.


So there you have it…some of the notables from the past couple weeks of gaming. If you have the chance, I highly recommend checking any one of these out!