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Patchwork is a beloved tile-laying game for 2 players from acclaimed German designer Uwe Rosenberg. This tight puzzle of a game has been admired by players around the world since its release in 2014 and remains one of the most popular two-player titles on the market.
As its name suggests, Patchwork pits two players against each other in a contest to create the most complete, aesthetically pleasing patchwork quilt. The pieces of this quilt are represented by tiles of different shapes and sizes, which start the game randomly arranged in a circle.
Players then take tiles according to a clever mechanism. They can choose a tile up to three spaces clockwise from the spool (a marker on the edge of the circle). They pay the cost in buttons (the game’s currency) of whatever piece they choose and move their pawn a number of spaces on the time track equal to the value on the tile. Players continue to take pieces until their time pawn fully overtakes the other player’s pawn. If you don’t want to pick a piece, you can pass instead, moving your pawn ahead of the other player’s and taking a number of buttons equal to the number of spots you moved.
You can place the tile that you take anywhere on your 9x9 grid, but you’ll probably want to keep them closer together so that it’s easier to see what spaces you still need to fill. At certain points on the time track, you’ll also unlock 1x1 tiles to help you plug little gaps and receive button income based on the value of the tiles that you’ve placed. Buttons convert into points, but you’ll also lose two points per empty spot on your board, so be careful not to leave gaps!
Uwe Rosenberg’s clever game of Patchwork will have you and your opponent scratching your heads and staring at your tiles as you try to work out how to get the better of each other. Order today to get this two-player classic delivered.
Player count: 2
Time: 15-30 minutes
Age rating: 8+
Patchwork is a fairly light two player game by Uwe Rosenberg in which players compete to place oddly shaped patchwork pieces to form a growing quilt on a personal nine by nine quilt board. Each patchwork piece comes at a cost in buttons and in time which the player must pay.
As time progresses with each play of a patchwork piece, the player may earn more buttons or small bonus single patchwork pieces. The game ends when the player tokens reach the end of the time track, with unspent buttons counting as victory points. Patchwork has a “tetris” feel, is quick to learn, plays in around 30 minutes and although simple to play is surprisingly tactical.
I’d known about Patchwork for some time, knew it has good ratings, I thought that perhaps the theme might not be to my taste, or that it would be too simplistic. I must say that upon playing Patchwork I was very pleasantly surprised.
It’s all about the buttons (or is it)
Buttons are currency and they are needed to purchase pieces. The larger, more desirable patchwork pieces cost more. As the game progresses there are opportunities to earn more buttons. Buttons are not only currency, they are also victory points. So, what we have here is an economy, but there is a further factor - time.
Time is limited, with each purchased piece time progresses and can never be reclaimed. Run out of time and it's game over, which means with every piece bought two factors need to be considered.
Firstly, how it aids the button economy, and secondly is it worth the time? Finally bear in mind that there is a competitor who will be making the same decisions and will be manipulating time in order to get the best pieces and create a superior economy. It’s cutthroat.Playing Patchwork Board Game (PZS69 BGG)
Each player starts with an empty nine by nine quilt board and five buttons. The various patchwork pieces are placed randomly in a circle around the time track board with each player placing their time token at the start of the time track. A neutral token is placed within the circle of pieces next to a designated patchwork piece.
Players can then in turn do one of two things. Move the time token forward on the time track to one space ahead of the opponent’s time token and take one button for each space moved. Or purchase and place a patchwork piece on their own nine by nine quilt board, paying the necessary buttons and moving forward on the time track as indicated on the piece.
There is one further restriction; it is only possible to purchase one of the first three pieces in a clockwise direction from the neutral token, with the token then moving to the replace the piece purchased. Manipulation of how this neutral token moves and the patchwork pieces which become available is a key component of strategy. As the time token moves forward on the time track one of two other things can happen.
Firstly as the token moves onto or over a button space the player receives income corresponding to the number of buttons on the tiles on their board. Secondly the player owning the first token to move onto or over a single square patchwork piece may claim that piece for free and play it. One other rule with the time track is that turn order is determined by who is last on the time track, so it is entirely possible to have two or more consecutive turns.
Play continues until each player has run out of time, at which point the winner is determined. Each player gets one point for each unspent button. Each player loses two points for each uncovered square on their board; there is also a points bonus for the first player to form a fully filled seven by seven square.
Final Thoughts on Patchwork
Patchwork is a little gem. There are three things happening; building the button economy, managing time and the consequences of time, and manipulating which patchwork pieces are available. It is not really about the patchwork pieces or making a quilt, it is about managing an economy in a time efficient manner and competing to do so against an opponent.
That the Patchwork pieces are laid out in random order introduces a random element and ensures no two plays are going to be identical. Patchwork is simple, easy to pick up, elegant, fast and cutthroat.
Patchwork is a two player game in which players are trying to complete a patchwork quilt. To do so they must collect tiles of various shapes and sizes and fit them onto their quilt board. Players want to collect pieces with buttons on, as this will give them the ability to get more patches for their quilt. However, they must also keep an eye on the time board to ensure their quilt is as completed as possible when time runs out.
Each player receives a quilt board and time token of their colour (yellow or green). They also receive five buttons. These buttons are the currency used in the game. The remainder of the buttons are placed on the table close to the playing area.
The central time board is placed in the middle of the table. The time tokens go on the first space on the board. Place the special one square patches on the spaces marked on the time track. The other patches are placed in a circle around the time board.
Place the beige neutral token next to the two by one size piece (the smallest regular patch in the game) in clockwise order. Put the special seven by seven tile somewhere near the game area.
The player who last touched a needle will be the start player.
Patchwork plays a little differently to standard games in that the players do not necessarily alternate between turns. The player whose token is furthest behind on the time track will be the player to take their turn. In some cases this will lead to one player taking several turns in a row. If the tokens are ever on the same space, the player who has the token on top will go first.
There are also two types of currency in the game - buttons and time. The regular patches require both types of currency. Players start off the game with five buttons. They can gain buttons throughout the course of the game when they move over the button icon on the income track. When this happens the player will receive a number of buttons equal to the number of buttons on the patches on their quilt board.
Players can take one of the special, one by one, patches when they move their time token onto or past one of the spaces on the time board. Only the first player to reach each special patch will receive it. There is also a special tile, awarded to the first player to complete a seven by seven area on their grid. The player takes the token which is worth seven points at the end of the game.
On a player’s turn they have two options - advance and receive buttons or take and place a patch. They may carry out only one of these actions.
Advance and Receive Buttons
If you cannot take a patch as you don’t have enough buttons, or if you do not wish to take one you can use this action. You then move your time token from the space you were on to the space directly in front of your opponent’s piece. You will then receive one button per space you moved on the time track.
Take and Place a Patch
To use this action you must first choose a patch to take. Players can take any one of the three patches in front of the neutral token in clockwise order. They must be able to pay the button cost to take the patch.
Once the player has chosen the patch to take, they move the neutral token next to the patch. They then have to pay the number of buttons set out on the tile. The buttons are paid into the supply.
The player then has to place the patch. It can be placed on the board in any way, as long as it does not overlap the edge of the board or another piece. Once they have placed their piece, the player then moves their time token the number of spaces shown on the patch. If your token would land on the same space as your opponent’s, place yours on top.
End of the Game and Scoring
The game ends after both time tokens reach the last space of the time board. The tokens cannot move past the last space on the board. If one player ends before the other they simply wait for the other player to end too.
To score, firstly add up the number of buttons you have in total. Then subtract two points for each empty space on your quilt board. The player with the highest score wins. If there is a tie, the player who reached the end of the time track first wins.
Hints and Tips
Try to leave some space for larger tiles towards the end of the game. At the start of the game you will not have enough buttons to buy the larger tiles. By the end of the game you will want them to fill in spaces but they can be awkward shapes and sizes so bear this in mind when building your grid.
Don’t be afraid to not take a tile. There are some circumstances where you could take a tile and just eke your buttons out to get to the next button space. However, towards the start of the game using a turn to move ahead and collect more buttons can be very valuable, even if it means you don’t pick up that tile. It all balances out in the end.
You can’t always rely on getting special patches. By the nature of the game, it can work out that your opponent reaches all of the patch spaces before you. Therefore, try not to rely on them to fill in spaces in the middle of your board.
This may sound obvious, but try to work towards getting the special tile. Seven points can be worth a lot at the end of the game. Also, working towards this tile may give you a better structure to the pattern you are building as an added bonus.
You might like
- Easy to learn.
- Quick play.
- Cutthroat economic game.
Might not like
- The theme may not enthuse.