Snug As A Bug – Patchwork

Quick note: I’m reviewing the Chr***mas edition of Patchwork, because that’s what came in my Zatu new release box at the end of November. However, I have a lot of trauma around the holiday so I’m just going to call it Patchwork for 99% of this review.

Patchwork is a charming little puzzle game by Uwe Rosenberg for 2 players and takes about 30 minutes to play. Like a lot of Rosenberg’s games, there’s plenty of poliminos to place (I won’t kinkshame, I love a bit of Tetris myself).

Each player takes a 9×9 quilt board, a matching player token, and five buttons as their starter funds. The spiralling time board is placed in the centre of the table and the polimino patch tiles are randomly placed around it in a circle. Next players locate the 2×1 tile and place the marker token ahead of this in a clockwise order.

The first player will pick one of the three patches ahead of the marker to take. They then move the marker to that position and pay for the tile, which has a cost in time and buttons. Buttons are paid straight to the bank and time is paid by moving along the time track, the number of spots shown on the tile. The player who is furthest back along the track will always be next to select a patch to sew.

This leapfrog method really helps to balance out play. If someone gets in a lucky position and gets a high value patch, they may find themselves waiting to move ahead while their opponent gathers up smaller tiles needed to fill in awkward gaps. It forces you to look ahead at the rest of the board, as well as considering the three tiles you can choose on your current turn. Set up just right and you could position yourself ideally for several turns.

Patches come in various sizes and shapes and some will show one or more shiny gold buttons. The time board also shows buttons at various points along the route and passing these will allow you to score based on the number of gold buttons shown on patches you’ve already sewn to your quilt.

Alternately, on your turn you can move to the position directly ahead of your opponent on the time board. In this way, you earn a number of buttons based on how many places you travelled. As such, you never have to worry about running out of funds to buy more patches. However, that time is always ticking down and empty spaces on your board will cost you two points each at the end.

Speaking of which, the game ends when one player makes it to the centre of the time board. Final scores are based on the number of buttons you have earned minus any deductions for uncovered areas of your quilt. There’s also a bonus of seven buttons for the first player to fill a 7×7 area on their quilt.

While Patchwork could seem like a simple game for kids that you could easily dismiss, it has the potential to be not only a spacial awareness puzzle, but a mind game with your opponent about when to move forward, when to take a tile based on how long it will take you to sew, and when to just dive in and grab a patch that will give you a regular income of those shiny gold buttons.

The tiles and boards are a lovely thick cardboard, the tokens are all wood, the box isn’t excessively large, it’s a lot of fun, easy to teach, easy to set up and tear down. I have really enjoyed my time playing this game and look forward to getting the review photos out of the way so I can just change the box to say it’s the Unicorn Dance Party Edition (it’s a far superior winter festival. Don’t @ me).

Okay, time to grit my teeth and just get on with mentioning the differences between this and the standard version of Patchwork.

This festive edition features gold buttons instead of blue, the colours are a bit more vibrant, the patches look more like wrapped gifts tied with string (to heck with trying to wrap most of these shapes!), the marker token is a red pine tree shape and the other tokens are gold and silver… oh, and it comes with a T shape cookie cutter (for some reason. Maybe gingerbread. Sure, let’s say gingerbread).

Pros:

  • Fun.
  • A little deeper than it looks.
  • Vibrant colours.

Cons:

  • It’s got the word Chr***mas in the title.

Final Score: 8/10

Passionate Pieces – Azul: Summer Pavilion

Most players who develop more than a passing interest in Dungeons & Dragons (other tabletop RPGs are available) will find they develop a habit of collecting the shiny click-clack maths rocks. I mostly play online, but already have four full sets of polyhedral dice and three sets of Fudge dice.

You just get sucked in, and before you know it the targeted marketing is everywhere. Do you want ones with blood splatters? Liquid glitter cores? Heavy, metallic dice with rainbow edges? Novelty, oversized D20s? How about a D30? (for what?!) Or a D100? C’mon, percentile dice are for losers, get the real thing. Super strong, mains powered, dice with bonus clit sucking action (give it time)?

Nerds like tactile plastic apparently. We gather these prizes to us like dragons who are really into hydro-carbons. Unff. However, this can get really expensive. Therefore today, I’m going to talk about a lovely box of cardboard and sexy, sexy plastic that is very reasonably priced, beautifully weighted, wonderfully finished to a smooth shine, in a range of pleasing colours. Today, we discuss Azul: Summer Pavilion.

Summer Pavilion is the second of (currently) three Azul games, designed for 2-4 people. This time around, players take turns to draft tiles from a number of “factories” (they’re cardboard discs). They can take as many of one colour from a factory as well as a single tile of the wild colour for that round, if it also shares a factory (the number of factories used will depend on the player count). Now you have tiles of your own, tiles to fiddle and fondle and make patterns next to your player board as your wicked opponents take their opportunity to touch other tiles (they should be yours, all the tiles should be yours to feel and fondle).

Each factory starts with four beautiful tiles and any unclaimed after the first choice are moved to the centre of the play area. Even at this early stage, strategies can start to form. Do you want to take tiles from the next factory, or take from the middle? Will taking from one factory put enough of a single colour into the centre that it becomes an irresistible bounty of blessed tiles for the next, covetous player?

Once all the factories, and the centre are clear the first player (the one who drew from the centre first in the previous phase) will place a tile on their board. Boards are separated into seven coloured flowers, each divided into 6 numbered petals (alternatively, there’s a junior version of the game, just flip over the board and use any colour to fill any flower, two games in one). To place a tile on their board, players must pick a colour, and decide how many tiles of that colour (or the current wild colour) to spent in order to place one down. For example, spending two tiles allows the number two space to be filled, with the second tile being placed in a box (to be recycled back into circulation later).

Once everyone has placed all their tiles (or stored up to four of them for the next round) the factories are refilled from the bag, and the next round starts. This is a precious time, where you have your hand in a bag full of these glorious tiles and you can feel them cascading over you, filling you with absolute pleasure.

As the six rounds progress, the wild tile changes and the bag becomes more empty. When it’s finally drained of its precious contents, all those tiles in the box are placed back in.

Been having trouble finding the colour you want because it was all coming out at the beginning of the game? Now may be your chance to complete a set.

Scattered around your player board are a number of symbols. If you place tiles to completely surround these, you’ll be allowed to take 1-3 tiles (depending on the symbol) of your choice from the centre of the score board. This is the only time that the player order for placing tiles actually matters (get in early, take those high value purples, crush that tile touching tyrant). Spaces are then immediately filled from the bag.

Scoring is pretty simple, placing a lone tile is one point, tiles placed next to an adjoining tile get a point for each they’re slid sensuously in next to. Completing a flower of a single colour (or the central flower which can use any colour) will grant you an immediate bonus as shown on the score board. Additionally, filling every space marked with a one, two, three, or four will gain you a progressively more valuable bonus at the end of the six rounds.

Azul SP is a fairly quick game, and can be completed in about 20-40 minutes, depending on player count. Ultimately though, you probably won’t want to play with other people, you’ll want to strip naked, draw flowers on yourself with eyeliner, and feel the glorious tiles against your flesh, the way nature intended.

Pros:

  • Tiles sound lovely as they swish around in the bag, awaiting your touch.
  • Feels delightful against your skin, each touch of tile sending shivers of pleasure through you.
  • Very reasonably priced.
  • Surprising level of strategy, especially with higher player counts.

Cons:

  • How dare you suggest these tiles aren’t perfect.
  • I will destroy you if you touch my precious tiles.
  • The player score markers are brown, white, grey, and black. Lack of vivid colour means I often forget who is who.

Final Score: 10/10