I’ve been meaning to write this post since January, but honestly Toy Fair and other stuff got in the way. I got Patchwork as a gift for Christmas and I’ve been playing in weekly since; it’s truly a great 2-player game. (No need to read further just buy it.)
I’ll admit that when I first heard about the game I wasn’t really drawn to a game about patches and buttons. Then I started hearing some good things and I asked a person at the Mayfair booth during a con how long it would take to play (since I tend to check out at ~30 minutes) and they said a solid 30 minutes. So I just sort of put it out of my mind until I needed things to put on my Christmas list. To clear up a few things: 1. Using buttons as currency is still a bit weird, but also kind of funny. 2. It does not take a “solid 30 minutes” at all and you can easily bang out a game in 15-20 minutes (which it says on the Mayfair site). 3. Have a mentioned that this game is really pretty awesome?
Each player has a grid that they’re trying to fill with “patches.” Each patch costs a certain amount of buttons and if it has buttons on it, it will earn that number of buttons each time your token passes a “button bonus” space on the board (they’re the buttons on the path). Each patch has a certain amount of “time” associated with it too and the “time” is simply how many spaces you move your token on the board. That’s about it. You start with 5 buttons, the player with the most buttons at the end wins — but the kicker is that for each open space on your grid you must pay a 2 button penalty. The game ends when both tokens enter the finish area on the board (duh), but turns are not necessarily back and forth. You see, who gets to take a turn is determined by whoever’s piece is further behind. So if my opponent buys a patch that’s worth 6 time (moving their token 6 spaces) and they end up way ahead of me, I may want to take a piece that’s worth 2 time so that my token doesn’t move ahead of theirs and I get another turn. The other thing is that you can’t take just any patch — they’re all laid out in a circle around the scoreboard and there’s a giant mover that sits between the patches that dictates which 3 are up for “sale.” (These would be the three directly in front of the mover). Once a patch is purchased, the giant mover jumps to that space making a new set of 3 patches for sale.
The beauty of Patchwork is really in finding a balance between having loads of buttons on hand AND getting your board covered as much as you can. The patches range in size, button cost, time cost, and shape. Once a patch is place it cannot be moved, so odds are that you’ll never make 2 of the same quilts because what’s available is limited and changes every time. I also think that the limited availability of patches make the decision making process way less burdensome; there are times you can only afford 1 out of the 3 or the shape of a patch makes it a silly choice narrowing down your 3 choices. Wonder what happens when you can’t afford any? You jump your token ahead of your opponent’s and collect 1 button per space you’ve moved. Easy, right? Honestly, this game is so amazing because it’s simple to learn, but rich with strategy — without being cumbersome with decisions. Just go buy it.
~ $25 at Amazon, and some local game retailers
2 players ONLY