Sunday, May 21, 2017

Patchistory weaves together unique and enjoyable Civ mechanics

About two years ago, I bought this Civ game called Patchistory from Deinko Games.

It's been sitting on my shelf all this time, but the recent Civ games I've been playing has reawakened my enjoyment of Civ, so I convinced my friends Jim and Pix to try it out recently.

Patchistory, one "h" by the way, is an abstract Civ game that encompasses 3 ages, Ancient, Medieval & Renaissance, and Industrial/Modern. This is a typical Civ thing which you see. What you don't see and this seems to be unique, is the tiling system. The heart of the game is the quilting of these "patches" that represent not just land (with its resources) but Wonders (another Civ trope) and heroes (also a Civ Trope) all in one.

Over the course of the game, each player quilts their empire (and just as in real life history and historical accidents) your empire/country becomes a hodge-podge of resources, heroes and wonders patched together over the centuries.

When you acquire these patches through a round-robin auction method, you must patch them in on at least one other of your tiles. Each of your tiles is typically separated by 4 1x1 rooms or 2 1x1 rooms with a 2 room extension. Each of these rooms can give you various resources provided they are visible when you tile them. To tile them, you can place them over or under an existing tile for the most part, like you would with a cloth patch on your jeans.

The catch is though that you are limited by 5x5 room size in the Ancient era, 6x6 for Medieval and 7x7 for the Modern world. You thus are increasingly getting squeezed in and have to make sacrifices as you can't use everything. You are forced to patch over old resources, or patch under new resources all the time.

In this example, I had 1 brown wasteland, 1 military room symbolized by 2 swords and a shield, and an airport room that would give me 3 more transportation functionality. However, I was limited by 7x7 space limits, so I patched the airport underneath, losing it's benefits.

Very unique mechanic I have not seen before.

As you patch here and there, you move your workers around to different rooms to maximize resources that you need. When they move off/ on to patches, your resource capacity changes accordingly. This has the effect of not making you complacent in what you got and you're always needing to adjust and plan accordingly.

You also are forced to think short term as you have "prosperity cards" that make you plan for secret goals at the end of every era, accomplished through player voting. The winner of a vote gets everyone's votes which ultimately get translated into victory points. The 3rd place guy in a 3 player game gets nothing.  If one of your prosperity cards was to maximize food for example, you would try and buy patches that had agriculture rooms. This way, when your prosperity card is up for voting, you would put all your votes on it. If you indeed had the most food for the end of that era, you would get everyone who voted for food's votes and thus victory points.

In a memorable event during the game, I was going for the most trade routes and saved up 10 votes for that. I had two trade routes, while Jim and Pixie only had 1 each. However, at the last round before voting, Pixie and Jim voted on peace unexpectedly between each other (Pixie had Napoleon but didn't use him on Jim!!), and thus opened up a two-way trade route. We thus each had  then two trade routes each. I could not fulfill my "most trade routes" objective and squandered all those votes.

Interaction with other players is usually by giving aid, threatening (which is basically a shakedown) or war.

I used this Bismark hero patch to threaten Pixie for 3 turns in a row, acquiring something like 20 victory points between her and the bank and it cost me nothing.

And that is not even war.

You can see either peace or war slowly coming toward you when a player has a trade route to you. The player collects goodies on the way, but when they finally reach you, you have to decide for peace or war in a secret method where you both reveal your intentions simultaneously.  If both decide on peace, then a two way trade route gets established. If one decides on war, then its a comparison of military strength with hidden resources thrown in. Of course, you'll only know who won the war in the next turn, giving both sides time to build up resources to use against the other.

Even if you lose, you can never get exterminated in this game, hence it's a 3X game. Still, war is no picnic as the winner gets oodles of victory points.

The auction as I said is for the patches, and bidding can get hot and heavy. Given the space constraints or the demand for a certain resource you desperately need, you sometimes have to throw good money over bad to get that patch. I've seen Jim and Pixie bidding and re-bidding a certain patch they both needed.

Production values are okay, as there is a nice points tracker and reference screen..

However, I found the patches a bit flimsy, but they were double-sided. Indeed, most most cards we did not use in the game and there is thus lots of replayability in Patchistory.

The game overall is very enjoyable and I would encourage all Civ players to give it a try.

Thumbs up! I am keeping this game.

1 comment:

  1. Looking forward to the variant set in the golden age of piracy. How soon will they be producing "Eyepatchistory" anyway?