Play Time: 30 minutes
Age Recommendation: 8+
Difficulty to Learn: 2/10
Mastery Curve: 5/10
Luck Variance: 4/10
Publisher: Lookout Games
Theme and Overview
In Patchwork, players take turns assemble a quilt one piece at a time onto a 9X9 grid. Each piece is a uniquely shaped tile that comes in a variety of sizes. Once a piece is selected, it is added to an empty space on the grid. Hopefully, you can cover your entire grid with quilt tiles before the end of the game so that you don’t take a point penalty for an unfinished quilt.
Patchwork, however, is not merely a race to complete one’s quilt but a contest in acquiring the most points (represented by buttons). It just so happens that leaving vacant spaces at the end of the game means that you’ll suffer a 2 point penalty for each empty square. This can add up quickly so it’s in your best interest to try and fill up as many spaces as possible. To do so, you’ll have to use puzzle solving skills to fit the unusually shaped pieces into the remaining spaces.
Besides being worth points at the end of the game, buttons also serve as the game’s currency and each player starts with five. At the start of the game, all of the quilt tiles are arranged in a circle around the time track. Each player begins their turn by either purchasing a new quilt tile for a button cost (indicated on that tile) and placing it in their grid or performing a “rest” action, a way to earn buttons.
Quilting can be time consuming, however! Each quilt tile also includes an indication of how much time it takes to complete. When a tile is added to a player’s board, that player must advance their player token along a time track the indicated number of spaces. When a player’s token reaches the end of the time track, they have run out of time and can no longer take any actions.
As player tokens move along the time track, they will pass button checkpoints (indicated by the button symbol in-between spaces). When this happens, a player will score a button for each button symbol on each of their quilt tiles. Additionally, the first player to pass each of the 1X1 quilt patches placed along the time track will receive those patches to include in their quilt as a way of filling those difficult spots left between larger tiles. This makes it easier for players to avoid penalty points at the end of the game.
Corey: I had a lot of fun playing one of Uwe Rosenberg’s other titles, New York Zoo during SPEIL.digital 2020. I can see tons of similarities in Patchwork and it’s apparent that this title inspired a lot of those ideas. I got that impression going into this one but thought that it might have quite a bit less substance to it based on its more affordable price point and availability at major retailers. In fact, there’s an awful lot to Patchwork. I am very impressed! It’s simple enough to play with younger family members but has enough depth to enjoy some competitive matches with your very cutthroat peers.
COREY POINTS: 8/10
Nikki: Patchwork is equal parts competitive strategy and puzzle solving. I have really enjoyed trying to strategically save up enough buttons, and maximize my “time” quilting all while puzzling through how best to fill up all of my player board. While I’ve never been able to get my 9×9 player board perfectly filled, I have had ‘sew’ much fun manipulating all of the quilt tiles. I can only image how amazing it will feel when I finally finish a game with a completed quilt!
NIKKI POINTS: 8/10
Corey: Anything that is this easy to set up and this quick to play through is deserving of some replay-ability points. Beyond that, I’m looking for some variety to each play through added by the game mechanics. There’s not a lot of that in Patchwork. I’d expect that after a while you might be able to figure out which tiles are the most worthwhile investments based on their costs, payoff, and time commitments and ignore the ones that aren’t.
COREY POINTS: 7/10
Nikki: The combination of strategy, puzzle, and easy rules will make this a game I’d be happy to play again and again. While the mechanics are simple, the fact that in each game players will end up with different quilt tiles which will always result in different challenges, and push players to be creative with their tile placements.
NIKKI POINTS: 7/10
Corey: Once you get past the fact that quilt squares tend to look more like Tetris pieces rather than, well…squares, it does feel like this game delivers on its theme. The problem is that the theme is really not that interesting. I had more fun with the aforementioned New York Zoo (another Uwe Rosenberg game) which seems to be the spiritual sequel to Patchwork but if you’re looking for a lighter board game experience with some rather approachable thematic content, this seems like a good include in your collection.
COREY POINTS: 7.5/10
Nikki: We have the Americana Edition of the game and I think the designs on all the tile pieces and the colors of the game do well to visually evoke traditional Americana style quilts. The game mechanics of buttons for currency and victory points and “time” quilting as a measure of the progression of the game do well to stay within the theme. Ultimately, this simple theme does well for such a simple and well thought out game.
NIKKI POINTS: 7.5/10
Quality of Components
Corey: I can’t complain about the components for this $18 game. Almost everything is made of cardboard save for the wooden player tokens used on the time track.
COREY POINTS: 7.5/10
Nikki: All of the pieces are made of pretty thick cardboard (player boards, buttons, quilting tiles), and the player tokens and neutral token are made out of wood. The quilting tiles are very nice and feature double sided artwork to make it easier to place the tiles.
NIKKI POINTS: 7.75/10
Corey: While the art is nothing to write home about, it’s colorful and detailed enough to be interesting. I do like the look of the game when it’s all set up. There’s something aesthetically pleasing about seeing all of the quilt tiles set out around the time track. It’s simple but nice.
COREY POINTS: 7.5/10
Nikki: The art for this game is solidly on theme for the Americana Edition. All the tile patterns are unique, showcasing stars and stripes in blues, reds, yellows and white. When pieced all together the tiles look good and may evoke feelings of American Patriotism (even for those players who are not Americans).
NIKKI POINTS: 7.5/10
Our overall score based on the responses of both reviewers in five different categories (10 points possible for each).