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Patchwork Board Game Review

patchwork-board-gamePatchwork is a 2-Player tile-laying Board Game. It consists of a game track with counters, two 9-by-9 grids (one for each player) and different shaped tiles or ‘patches’ that players must place within their grid to create their ‘patchwork.’ There’s a small jigsaw element in that players can only place tiles that will fit, and there is a bonus for being the first to create a perfectly filled 7-by-7 square. There are also Buttons which are the currency and each player starts with five; these are used to buy patches. Each patch costs buttons and ‘time’ – how far forward the player must advance on the game track. The game ends when both players are at the end of the track. Some patches have buttons attached which makes them very valuable because they pay out that amount of buttons each time the player passes a button symbol on the game track – and whoever has the most buttons wins!

patchwork-setupThe non-button tiles are only really worthwhile to compete for the bonus of completing a 7×7 square. It’s not a huge bonus so if the tiles are expensive it’s usually worth skipping them. On their turn each player may ‘buy’ or ‘skip.’ The player furthest back on the track must continue to move until they pass the player ahead of them. Doing so by skipping means they get a button for each space they pass. There are also ‘filler’ tiles (1×1 squares) that are placed along the game track and awarded to the first player to reach them – very useful to achieving the 7×7 goal.

Patches are placed in a circle and you can only buy from the three tiles following the last purchased. This means, if you can guess what your opponent wants, you can potentially stop them from getting it or at least force them to purchase less valuable tiles for more buttons. Generally the best strategy for winning is to buy cheap patches (low time and button cost) with lots of buttons on. In particular you want to get a lot of patches with buttons attached early in the game because the earlier you get them the more times they will pay out a bonus. Later you want to seriously consider whether the cost in buttons will be recouped in bonuses.

patchworkIt was fun to play and could definitely be expanded up to more players by say, having more than one copy of the game or adding hand drawn grids and patches. Real buttons might be added as the currency to make for a more satisfying pile. I feel it is slightly unbalanced because whoever gets off to a good start will likely win. Wealth begats more wealth meaning the ahead player needs to make a serious miscalculation to lose; they are far more likely to extend their lead. Completing a good patchwork does not seem to have a major impact on the scoring. The 7×7 bonus is relatively small not making any real difference. Granted we were playing is slightly wrong: neglecting to deduct 2 buttons for each empty square, and this is probably a balancing factor.

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