A Month of Patrician

17527It’s been nearly a month now since I took Patrician out of the game cabinet and thought about giving the game another chance, and I’m very glad that I did. I bought the game back in 2008 and played one game of it in October of that year with my wife and a couple of non-gamer friends. Honestly, I bought it because it seemed simple and I thought it was pretty. After one game, I was pretty unimpressed and put the game back on the shelf. Nearly a year and a half later, my opinion of this game has improved by leaps and bounds.

You may want to review my original post regarding Patrician that includes a simple rules overview and a bit of background on the design and some initial thoughts I had.

As I said in that post, I had two reasons for choosing Patrician as Game of the Month. First, the last GotM, Kingsburg, was a dice game and I felt that with the exception of your initial hand of three cards, Patrician had no random elements, and second, I could play the game online and face-to-face. Well, I have changed my tune a little bit regarding the random elements, because you really are influenced by the random delivery of the new cards flipped up in the cities, more so than I had thought. I’m not saying it’s a bad thing. I’m just saying that luck can be a factor, at least in terms of your available choices for card drawing.

The ability to play Patrician online turned out to be a real treat. I was able to get in six games online with friends both here locally and down south in the Los Angeles area. I’m currently playing a game with the designer, Michael Schacht, which I think is pretty cool. I’m sure I will be crushed, but I will do my best. I was never able to get a five player game going. It isn’t an option online and I haven’t been to my game night in a while, but I will try to put one together before the end of the month if I can.

I hope that the majority of the discussion regarding Patrician will play itself in the comments of this post, but here are some I my thoughts after ten or so plays.

  • I think I like this best as a two player. I am happy to play it with three, four, or five (maybe), but I think I like it best with two. It plays very quickly, and there is a swell of strategy near the end. It’s like a good short story, where the major problem/issue comes to a climax near the end and then all of the loose ends are tied up. You get to a point in the endgame where you can see how things are going to pan out. The game is looser and more difficult to predict with three or four players. I still enjoy it, but I like it best with two.
  • I like playing the game face-to-face, because it’s easier to remember who has what card, and because I like the wooden tower pieces. (Okay, I do have a bit of a complaint with the color of the towers. They only give you enough towers to play a two-player game using black and white. The yellow, blue, and red colors can only be used if you are playing with more players. In fact, if you only have three players, you have to use white, black, and red. If you have four or five, you can use whatever you want. Would it have been so hard to include enough towers to allow for color choice? Even if it added a dollar or two to the price point, I think it would have been worth it.) However, I like playing online because the interface keeps track of the portraits, which you can’t do face-to-face.
  • The online game has an additional rule component called The Messengers, which is a free expansion you can download from the designer’s website or from boardgamegeek. (There’s another expansion called The Delegates which I printed out, but haven’t tried yet.) At first, I didn’t like the messenger expansion, but after a few plays, I began to understand why it was required for online play. The messenger is an optional token that may be played to increase scoring for a particular city visited by the messenger(s). It also changes the endgame a bit as well by limiting the final city scored to two points for each tower space, and punishes the player who played the least floors total in all cities visited by the messengers.

I’m going to stop there and leave the discussion open to the comment section. Please let me know what you thought of Patrician. I don’t want to put them on the spot, but I know Mark Johnson and John Snyder had some interesting opinions about the messenger. I really like the game now, and I imagine that I will play it more often now that I’ve had the chance to explore it a bit.

I appreciate your feedback, as always.

Disclaimer: I have received no review copies of this game. I have included links to funagain.com, an online retailer that I support by including affiliate links to games. If you purchase something from Funagain, and include my affiliate code, P2RX, then I get a few pennies of store credit so I can buy more games.

3 thoughts on “A Month of Patrician”

  1. Like you, I wasn’t initially very impressed with Patrician when I tried it. I first played it online, and in fact that’s almost exclusively how I’ve played the game. It wasn’t until I played it repeatedly as part of your Game of the Month that I gained an appreciation for it.

    Make no mistake, it’s still a pretty light game, with some portion of the ultimate outcome left to chance via the multiple card draw piles. But I have no problem with lighter games. I prefer them, actually, as long as they’re paired with an interesting/attractive theme or presentation (which this one has), and some real chance for strategy (again, this one has it).

    The key for me was the realization that this is a brinkmanship game–you do best by trying to hold out on the game-swinging plays as long as possible. Finally your hand is forced (the same is true of your opponents), and the game accelerates to a rapid finish when most of the points are handed out. Nice!

    It was good in person, too, but I agree that the limited color choices are a detraction. (That the 2-player game is limited to black & white is really disappointing.) I’ve even looked at http://www.spielmaterial.de to see if those special stacking pieces are available there, but no luck. Buying a second copy of Patrician just to fill out the color choices would be too expensive, but I wonder if you could order just the spares you need from Mayfair (or Amigo)? Looks to me like the same pieces are used in Carcassonne: The Tower, which is less espensive but only comes with 30 natural colored pieces.

  2. @Mark: I’ve considered making some tower pieces, but I think I may just keep my eye out for a used copy someday. If not, I can live with black and white. I always make you yellow when we play online.

    I still haven’t played a five player game. I wonder why that isn’t supported through the online version.

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