Welcome to The Game Shelf!

After getting into the board game hobby at the end of 2014, we've decided to share our thoughts on the games we're collecting on our shelves. The collection has certainly expanded over the last few years and we've been making up for lost time!

Sometimes our opinions differ, so Amy will be posting reviews every Tuesday and Fi will post on Thursdays. We hope you enjoy reading some of our opinions on board games - especially those for two players.

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Tuesday 5 January 2016

Not a patch on Tetris:- Patchwork

Game Title: Patchwork

Designer: Uwe Rosenberg

Manufacturer: Mayfair

Year: 2014

“Barbara thinks she has the best quilt this side of Happy-Oaks retirement home, but I’ll show her, I’LL SHOW THEM ALL!”

Patchwork is a 2-player quilting-themed game in which you make a quilt... no, wait, come back its actually fun! In patchwork you take turns deciding which piece of fabric-pattern you want to add to your quilt, the patterns are all in different sizes so you have a Tetris-like situation while you try and make unusual shapes fit in your square play area without leaving gaps.

Each turn you have a choice of the three patterns that are past the wooden marker, you pick one, paying the cost in buttons and then place it on your quilt board. After this you move your token ahead on the central track by the amount of time printed on the pattern you took and move the wooden marker to the empty spot from where you took the pattern. As the game goes on the marker will rotate around a circle of patterns, skipping over the ones people don’t want/can’t afford. Often putting the marker in a good spot (one where your opponent has limited/bad choices) is as important as taking a good pattern for yourself. 

The track has buttons which give you profit when you pass them, and squares which you add to your board for free. The player at the rear is always the next player, but once you reach the central orange zone your quilt-making time.
One of the core elements of patchwork is the time mechanic. Every pattern takes a set amount of time to stitch into your quilt, which moves your tile around the central track. The player furthest behind on the track is the player who’s turn it is, so you may find yourself able to take several goes by placing quick patterns after the other player took a slow one. The track also has a few other bonuses on it, there are several spots with 1x1 patterns on them. When a player’s marker moves over one of these they can immediately pick it up and place it on their board, useful for filling holes in your quilt! There are also buttons marked on the track, every time you pass a button you claim 1 button from the supply for each button printed on patterns you’ve added to your quilt. If you ever can’t afford any of the three choices then you can skip your counter forward on the time track to the space in front of your opponent and get buttons equal to the number of spaces you moved forward.

The game set up ready to go, the wooden pawn (center-right) stands before the three tiles you can buy and then moves to the empty space left by a bought tile, thereby rotating around the map.
Buttons are the currency in patchwork, and also the victory condition, at the end of the game the player with the most buttons wins. Securing a good income of buttons by picking patterns with buttons on them is important, but the pieces are well balanced, large tiles with buttons on them often take a long time and cost a lot of buttons to buy in the first place. Small pieces without buttons tend to be cheaper yet remain useful for filling holes. The problem with holes in your quilt is twofold, you have a 9x9 grid, but for every gap left at the end of the game you have to pay 2 buttons back to the bank. Also the first player to make a complete 7x7 square is given a bonus 7 buttons at the end of the game, so you need to fill those holes quickly if you want to earn the bonus.

Patchwork is relatively light and quick 2-player game but has plenty of tactical depth; you have to strike a balance between getting the best tiles for your board, foiling your rival’s quilt-making plans and earning a good profit. I have to say the theming, while well done, isn’t exactly fascinating, and the developers have missed an opportunity in that while they made the time track double sided, both sides are identical in function, I know the length of the track is vital to game balance, but I think a B side would let you play around a little with button/square placement. Nevertheless the game is fun and I would encourage people who find themselves with 1 regular gaming buddy to pick it up



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