You Little Sew and Sew--A Single-Take Review of Patchwork

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Today's review features Patchwork, a 2-player game about quilting, from Mayfair Games. You're spending time and effort to create the most beautiful quilt. I know what you're thinking: "Patches? PATCHES?! We don't need no stinking patches..." Yes you do...

 

The Components

1 double-sided Time board. Each side functions identically, but is different aesthetically, so you can just choose the side you like best. 

2 Quilt boards and 2 Time tokens--one of each per player

1 Neutral token

1 Special scoring tile

5 Leather Patch tiles

33 Patches of various shapes--think Tetris

A whole bunch of Buttons (the game's currency)

 

The Setup

Choose a side of the Time board and each player places a Time token on the start space. Place the five Leather Patch tiles on their spots on the board. 

Each player takes the Quint board that matches the Time token, along with five Buttons. 

Place the patches in a circles around the Time board. There's a single 1 x 2 piece, and you'll place the Neutral token in the space between that piece and the next one clockwise. 

 

The Gameplay

In Patchwork, players don't take turns. Whichever player is furthest behind on the Time board takes the next turn. (If both are on the same space, the player whose piece is on top goes next.) And that might mean a player takes more than one turn in a row. 

On your turn you take one of two actions. 

Advance and Receive Buttons: Move your Time token to one space beyond your opponent's Time token, and take one button for each space you moved. 

Take and Place a Patch: You choose (and pay for) a Patch from among the three Patches past the Neutral token, in clockwise order. Move the Neutral token to the space from which you took the Patch. Then you place the Patch on your Quilt board. You can flip and turn the piece in any way you'd like. Then you place it anywhere it fits--as long as it doesn't overlap on another piece or over the edge. 

In addition to a cost, each Patch also has a time on it. This represents how long it takes to add the Patch to your quilt. You move you Time token that many space on the Time board--placing it on top of your opponent if you end up on the same space.

Regardless of which of those two actions you take, you'll be moving your Time token, and there are two spots it might pass on the Time board. 

 Sorry about that awful glare. Sheesh. 

Sorry about that awful glare. Sheesh. 

Leather Patch: If you pass a Leather Patch, you take it and place it immediately. These are 1 x 1 pieces, and handy for patching that one tricky spot you can't seem to reach. 

Button Income: When you pass these button spots, you get income based on the number of buttons on your Quilt board. 

The first person to create a solid 7 x 7 square on his or her Quilt board gets the special scoring tile, which is worth 7 points at the end of the game.

The game ends once both Time tokens have reached the last space on the Time board. 

Add up the buttons you have left, and subtract two points for each empty space on your Quilt board. Highest score wins, and if there's a tie, whoever got to the last space first wins. 

 

The Verdict

Simply put, Patchwork is an instant classic. 

At first blush, it seems like a straightforward game. And it is. You can pull this out with kids, family, nongamers, strangers, enemies, Nickelback fans. ANYONE. But there's actually a lot going on under the surface. 

For each decision you have to weigh...

  • Time cost: Is this Patch worth the time investment I'll have to put into it? (Remembering that once you hit the end on that Time board, you're done?
  • Button cost: Is it worth giving up X number of Buttons (currency but also VPs) to but that Patch?
  • Button income: That Patch fits well here, but that other one fits almost as well, but gets me Button income for the rest of the game. Which is better?
  • Patch size: Which Patch should I pick, based on the state of my Quilt board. And once you're more familiar with the game, you'll also look to see which Patch is better based on the state of your opponent's Quilt board. 
  • Time advantage: If I take that Patch--and the associated time spent on it--will I give my opponent two turns in a row? Or perhaps a load of Buttons? 

But all of this happens at a low enough level that people won't feel overwhelmed. It's just brilliant. 

I think this game will only get better as people familiarize themselves with it. I can't wait to get there.

And my wife likes it! Well, she tolerates it. Okay, she'll play it. But that's progress, my friends!

Firestone's Final Verdict--I love the economy. I love the spatial puzzle. I love how the "market" changes. I love everything about this game. If I would have played this in 2015, it would have absolutely made my Top 10. If you play 2-player games, you need to own Patchwork. 

Thanks for reading! Have you played Patchwork? What do you think?