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Patchistory

Reviewed by: Chris Kovac

(Deinko Games, 2-4 players, ages 12 and up, 120 minutes, $60)

patchistory1Patchistory is a 2-4 player tile laying civilization building game played over three eras. The object is to have the most culture points by the end of the game. The game is designed by two new Korean game designers: Jun Hyap Kim and Yeon-Min Jung. My review covers the second edition and a four player game.

To start, each player gets a player’s screen, a starting capital tile, a resource board and eight colored status markers used on that board to keep track of your eight resources (food, money, general resources, votes, attack, defense, culture points, movement), eight workers (you start with three and can get the others over the course of the game), four food, three points of coins, four single building tiles and, finally, three prosperity cards (more on these later). You also set up one general trade route between each player so each player has two routes (one route starts with a player and one that ends at a player).

Before beginning, you have to decide which side of your starting capital tile you wish to play. You can play either Equality (every one starts with the same basic resources – good for inexperienced players) or Liberty (players start with different amounts of resources – for experienced players). The Liberty side of the capital tile is different for all four capital tiles. Once everyone has decided which side to use, you mark these starting resources on your resource board using your status markers. Both the resource board and your tiles are visible to all players. The left side of the board is used to record levels of attack, defense, movement and political points while the right side is used to record physical resources (food, coin, culture, general resources) which you will get during the resource phase. If you played Equality, you take one worker from your resource board and put it on any of the six resource spaces of your capital tile; if you played the Liberty side, you get two workers to place on the capital tile. You can now start the game.

Patchistory is played over three eras of five turns per era. You play four turns with five basic phases and the fifth which ends the era with three extra phases. The phases are:

Terrain tile auction phase – In this phase, you lay out a number of terrain tiles equal to the number of players in the game. Each terrain tile has a white (general buildings) and a dark side (heroes, wonders, special buildings and possibly some general buildings). Each terrain tile is composed of up to four resource buildings (Heroes, Wonders and special buildings can be more than one space on a tile). If manned by a worker, Heroes and Wonders (along with some general buildings) can give you special abilities and/or resources. Two of the laid out tiles must show their white side and two their black side.

Beginning with the start player, each player puts a coin bid on a terrain tile of his choice. If a player does not have any money, he must give up three culture points to get one coin. A player cannot move his bid unless he is outbid by a player later in the auction round which means he must then leave the tile and move to another tile (unless he has enough extra coin to outbid the “attacking” player) where he can bump another player. This continues until each tile has one player on it. The players then take the tile they have bought (all bid money goes to the bank) and “patch” it into their existing terrain tiles. Patching means laying a portion of the bought tile over or under your current tiles (with some restrictions on seas and buildings as well as Heroes or Wonders which cover more than one space). If you cannot patch the tile you have bought (or do not wish to), you have to discard it. Also, you are restricted to a patching limit (how large your civilization can be) which is a 5 x 5 square in the first era, a 6 x 6 square in the second era and a 7×7 square in the third era. After you have patched the new terrain tile onto your existing civilization, you adjust your resource markers on your resource board to reflect any changes resulting from terrain patching.

2068(1)Diplomacy and Management Phase – This phase has two sub phases: Diplomacy (done in player turn order) and Management (done simultaneously by all players). All actions and their costs are shown on the player screen. All actions in both phases cost political points to perform and each player only has as many points as he has political symbols (books) showing on his terrain tiles

Diplomacy actions can only be performed against other players with which you have a trade route. There are three diplomacy actions costing between one and three political points: Offering Aid (consisting of a combination of three basic resources – money, food [yellow cubes] or general resources [black cubes]. The offering player gets varying amounts of culture points depending if the receiving player accepts or refuses to take the resources), Threaten (if you have more military strength [swords] than an opponent [swords plus shields (defense)] you can demand a fixed number of either coins or culture points. If you are stronger than five points than your opponent, you get a larger number of each) and Break Alliance (if you convert all your political points into votes at the start of the Diplomacy phase and perform no further actions, you can break any alliance you have with another player by discarding an alliance trade route. How you get them is covered in a later phase. If you have an alliance you cannot threaten or go to0 war with that player.)

After all players have either performed or declined to do diplomacy actions they can then perform General, Construction, Honor or Campaign actions. I will summarize each set of actions briefly:

General Actions – Trade (give a set amount of food cubes to the bank {increases between each era] to move a worker from a tile space to the start space of a trade you have), Exchange (change resources in a fixed ratio from one to another as many times as you have movement [wheel] symbols), Birth (Give a set amount of food cubes to the bank [increases between each era] to get a new worker from your descendant track and place it on one of your civilization terrain squares).

Construction Actions – Trade Route (Give a set amount of resource cubes to the bank [increases between each era] to build a new general trade route between you and another player, Reclamation (You can take one of your one square building tiles, turn it over to its back wasteland side, and spend one resource cube to cover any existing building space in your civilization including seas. You replace the tile from one of those face down in the general stock.), Building (you pay either two or three resource cubes {depending on the building type] to place one of your one terrain space building tiles over any existing single terrain space on your civilization. These building tiles provide a single resource of culture, politics, economy, transport or industry or two of military. You replace the tile from one of those face down in general stock.)

Honor Actions – Both honor actions (honor Heroes and honor Wonders) are very similar. You pay a certain number of resources (wheat for heroes action, black resource cubes for the wonders action) and get a culture point for each of that type you currently have showing on your civilization. The cost for doing this increases between each era.

Campaign Action – This action allows you to convert any remaining political points you have not used on other actions to votes (you can only do this once per turn).

The next phase is Movement. Now, any player can move all of his workers on either his landscaped tiles (horizontally or vertically only) or along his trade routes (if has any men on them) a number of spaces equal to the number of wheels (movement) you have on your civilization. You move your men to get bonus resources from either the landscape tiles (some space provide special abilities or extra resources if manned) or from the trade space where your worker ends its movement during the resource phase.

Negotiation and War follow. This phase only occurs if a player has a worker who has reached the end of a general trade route. At this point, both players take one negotiation marker and decide in secret which side to use. The blue side is peace and the red side is war. If both players choose peace they can build an allied trade route between them (as long as they are allied they cannot threaten or go to war with one another). This allied trade route allows both allied players to use the route (regular routes can only be used by one player at a time) If either player chooses war, war is resolved in the next turn of this phase. Military strength of the attacker is compared to that of the defender. The defender gets to include any defence in his strength if he had chosen peace in the conflict. Also, players can secretly add black resource cubes to bolster their strength. The winner gets a certain amount of culture points from the general stock and a bonus amount of culture points if he beats the other player by five or more strength points. The amount of victory points needed for a win increases with each era.

The next phase is Production and Worker Maintenance. Players each get all the resources shown on the right hand side of their resource board (food cubes, general resource cubes, money and culture points). Any bonus resource points gotten from manned landscape spaces, Heroes, Wonders and trade routes are also added. All players must show the resources gotten before putting them behind their player screens. Now you look at your worker chart and the current food number showing (the more workers the higher the cost). That is what you have to pay to maintain your workers (if you are short you have to pay three culture for each food lacking).

You then move the turn order down and pass the first player marker to the next player clockwise before starting another auction phase. You do this for five turns. In the fifth turn there are two extra phases.

The first extra phase involves Heroes and Wonders maintenance where each player has to pay two wheat for each Hero and one resource for each Wonder currently showing in their civilization. The final extra phase is voting. Here, each player will first choose one of their three prosperity cards to be voted on in this era and put them in the middle face down. Each prosperity card displays one “aspect” such as a particular resource, Heroes, Wonders, etc. which players look to have the most of. These cards are shuffled randomly and dealt face up in a row. The players then take there white vote cubes and, from left to right, vote on each card (by putting the amount of cubes they wish to cast for the particular card in their fist and then revealing them simultaneously). With all cards voted on, the one with the least amount of votes is discarded (all are discarded if two cards receive the same amount of votes). Then the scoring in culture points for each of the remaining prosperity cards takes place.

In a four player game, the player with the most of the particular aspect shown gets culture points equal to the number of votes on the prosperity card, the second place half the amount of votes, third no culture points and the player in fourth place loses culture points equal to half the number of votes on the prosperity card. If two people tie, they drop down one place (I.e. if two people tie for first place they will drop down to second place for scoring). The era then ends and all unused era terrain cards and votes are set aside and you have another five turns using the next era cards. After playing through three eras (fifteen turns) the person with the most culture wins (there are no tie breakers)

Even though the rules are better than the first edition, there are still points where the rules are not very clear or awkwardly written (translating from Korean to English can be tricky). I also felt that, since resources are not worth anything at the end, people just throw money into the final auctions regardless if they really need the landscape tile or not. I think some points for things like cash might help balance the game somewhat. One final concern is about the components, the landscape tiles especially. These tiles are very thin in order to allow you to patch them over one another but they warp very easily and moving your patched tiles to make more space can be difficult.

Patchistory at its core has the very innovative idea of using tiles and “patching” them together to create a civilization game. I also like the voting mechanism where the number of votes is the number of victory points to be shared by the winners of the tile. Although the game can be long (three hours on average), it keeps you fairly engaged throughout. Overall about a 7.5 out of ten.


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