This past Saturday was National Board Game Day. My friends and I took the initiative to go out to our local gaming bar. We got some coffee, some board games and played throughout the better half of the afternoon. After a game of Dixit two of my friends had to leave. The remaining three of us decided we would continue our fun with a game my casual gaming friend picked out. A nifty looking box with a picturesque medieval woman on the front. At first I wasn’t sold the theme being Medieval Italy; it just wasnt something i’m usually interested in. That being said my mood shifted once I started playing.
In Patrician you are a contractor building towers for affluent members of society. The objective being you are trying to earn the most favor from the wealthy members of Italian society and reap the rewards. The game plays up to five people (though we only played with three) in the 8 cities of Italy… of which I cant remember the names of. Each City has two building locations where towers can be constructed. On top of that each city has a card attached to it that can be claimed whenever a tower piece is built (obviously being replaced by another card from the deck). It is in this way that players draw additional cards throughout the game. Each city also has a specific color coat of arms which are used to identify the different areas.
At start each player is dealt three starting cards. These cards act as deeds determining where you can build your towers. For example a card might have a purple coat of arms on it so you have to build it in the purple city; simple enough. From there the mechanics deepen in where you can only have so many total tower levels in any one town. For example in blue city a max of seven tower pieces may be built. Once a building max is reached that town cannot be further profited off of. Once a City is claimed the player with the most layers in the tallest building gets the higher point value of the two available for each city. So on the player with the most pieces on the smaller of the two towers gets the lesser value. In the instance of a tie the player with a piece on top of the tower take it.
Each card can also have a portrait of one of three social figures or one of two special abilities. The figure portraits actually only influence late game scoring where you get 6 points for ever three of a kind you have. The first of the two special abilities is a move a tower piece action. You get to take a tower top from a town you haven’t built in on you turn and move it to the top of the other tower in that city. The other ability allows you to when building in a city to instead draw a card from another city on the board. So this can be quite useful when looking to amass higher influence in certain areas. The end game is reached when every city has been capped out and everyone is out of cards.
It plays to the maximum of about an hour. It flies by though, once you get into the swing of things the turns just pop off with hardly any thought from any party. My only complaint is that the rules where a little difficult to understand at first, and after finishing a game I felt like it was underwhelmingly easy. We found that we each thought that there was something we were missing because there was no way the game was meant to play that quickly. We finished in about thirty minutes with brain power to spare. Ultimately I really enjoyed this game. I thought it was very fun for a casual afternoon of gaming just swapping pieces on a board. Its incredibly cheap to only twenty six dollars on Amazon. I will definitely be picking it up to have it ready to introduce someone to the thematic side of hobby gaming.