Patchwork Board Game Review

From the legendary board game designer Uwe Rosenberg comes another classic game – Patchwork! Instead of raising an army and waging wars, you’ll compete to create the best-looking patchwork quilt. If you’re looking for a short, relaxing two-player game, Patchwork might interest you. Find out more in our Patchwork board game review.

Patchwork
  • For 2 players
  • 15 minute playing time
  • Abstract, strategy game

Brief Overview of Patchwork

Patchwork Board Game Box and Components

Patchwork is an abstract casual game that takes about 15 to 30 minutes per session. Players tend to label it as a family game, but since it’s only a two-player game, I wouldn’t fully agree. Although, it’s a lot of fun to play with a significant other.

The game mechanics are similar to Tetris, with some elements of economic management. Patchwork is a very simple game, getting a rating of 1.62 out of 5 on BoardGameGeek’s “weight” scale. 

This may lead you to believe that you can get a couple of sessions out before the game turns boring, but on the contrary, Patchwork is a highly replayable game. The rating is only there to give you a sense of how easy it is to learn and get the hang of it.

Versions & Expansions

Patchwork Express

Patchwork Express gives you the same experience as the classic Patchwork but scaled down to a smaller playing area with larger, simplified game pieces. It’s a great way to introduce the youngest audience to the hobby, suitable for children ages 5 and up. 

Patchwork: Americana Edition

Americana Edition is a visual overhaul of the game inspired by the American theme. A lot of stars-shaped patterns and soft rustic colors provide a nice alternative to the standard quilt design. 

Patchwork: Americana Edition
  • SPECIAL AMERICANA EDITION: All the fun of the original Patchwork...
  • QUILT MAKING PUZZLE GAME: Patchwork is a wonderful two-player...
  • STRATEGY GAME: Working with the patches they receive, players...

Patchwork: Christmas Edition

The Christmas edition is a perfect holiday gift for a family member or a friend. Apart from the theme, the game remains the same, so you can easily transition between the original to the Christmas edition.

Patchwork Doodle

Patchwork Doodle is a spinoff roll-and-write version of Patchwork. On a piece of paper with a 9×9 grid, you’ll draw shapes based on the cards drawn. If you’re familiar with the board game Cartographers, Patchwork Doodle will be a very familiar experience.

Patchwork Doodle
  • A FUN NEW TWIST ON THE CLASSIC PATCHWORK GAME: Centered around a...
  • QUILT MAKING PUZZLE GAME: Patchwork is a wonderful game that...
  • STRATEGY GAME: Players roll a dice to determine which puzzle...

Unboxing of Patchwork

Inside the box you’ll find the following components:

  • 1 Neutral Token
  • 2 Time Tokens
  • 2 Quilt Boards
  • 1 Double-Sided Central Time Board
  • 33 Patches
  • 50 Button Tiles
  • 5 Special ‘leather’ Patches
  • 1 Special Tile
  • 1 Rulebook

Let us start with the rulebook – a simple double-folded pamphlet with full-color illustrations and rules that are well structured. There’s not a lot of text, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing, as the rules are kept short and to the point.

The double-sided game board is made out of rigid cardboard with eye-catching, colorful tiles. Beneath it are five punch-out cardboard panels with various tokens and tiles. 

Some game owners reported a problem with the punch-out pieces, where the cutout wasn’t perfect and would tear the top layer of the piece. I would advise using a scalper or an Exacto knife around the pieces before popping them out. It’s going to be a tedious job, but it beats gluing torn pieces back on. 

Two-player boards seem to be made out of the same material as the game board, sectioned into 9×9 grids, one painted into a greenish tint, the other brown. The last of the pieces are three wooden tokens, an unpainted chess pawn, and two cylinders in green and yellow.

And that’s all there is! Patchwork is a component-light game, consisting primarily of punch-out tiles. The tearing problem is concerning, and while I didn’t experience the issue myself, it’s worth paying attention to.

How to Play Patchwork

Patchwork Board Game Board Setup

Usually, I’d give you a quick rundown of the rules to get an idea of how it plays out. However, Patchwork is so simple that I can take you through the whole rulebook in a few sections.

Game Setup

Take a quilt board, a time token, and 5 buttons to use as coins, then give the same to the other player. The rest of the buttons should be nearby as you’ll need them throughout the game.

Set the game (time) board with the spiral facing up in the middle of the table, then place time tokens at the starting position. Place the standard patches around the board so they’re all visible. Find the smallest patch (1×2) and place the neutral token between it and the patch on the right. 

Put the special patches on designated spaces on the time board. Set the special tiles on the side of the board, and with that, you’re ready to start the game!

Taking Turns

Patchwork has an unusual approach to taking turns. As players perform actions, they will move their time token further along the track. Whoever falls behind gets to play until they overtake the other player. It’s possible for one player to take several turns before the other player gets to play again.

When both tokens land on the same space, the token on top is the first to carry on playing. In Patchwork, there are only two actions: Advance and Receive Buttons, or Take and Place a Patch.

Advance and Receive Buttons 

The first step is to advance your time token in front of the opponents. Then, collect buttons (currency) in the number of spaces moved, including the one you’ve landed on. 

Take and Place a Patch

The position of the neutral token determines what patches are available. Only the three patches to the right of the token can be bought, and once you’ve made your selection, move the neutral token above that patch. 

Pay for the patch in the amount displayed on the patch. Then, place the patch on your quilt board without overlapping with any other tiles. You can rotate the patch however you like before placing it.

The last step is to move the time token by the amount specified on the patch bought. If your token ends up behind your opponents, or on top of theirs, you get to play again. 

Special Rules

Whenever you take an action, you will move your time token around the board. Landing on top of or moving ahead of a marked space triggers an event. 

Crossing the Special Patch field gives you a 1×1 patch to immediately place on your board. If you cross a Button Income field, count the number of blue buttons on your patches to determine how much you’ll earn. Completely filling a 7×7 square on your quilt board will give you a special tile worth 7 points.

Game End & Scoring

The game continues until both player’s time tokens reach the end of the track. You don’t have to manage the last move to land exactly at the end – any excess moves are simply ignored. 

To determine the winner, count up all remaining buttons in your possession and add the value of special tiles you’ve collected. From this number, subtract 2 for every empty tile on your quilt board. The player with the highest score wins, and in case of a tie, the player who first reached the end of the space board is declared the winner. 

Your First Game of Patchwork

Patchwork Board Game Box and Board

Usually, in this section, I would share some useful tips and tricks to get an upper hand in your first few games, but this time I’m not going to give you any. 

The competition is important, but in a game like Patchwork, it’s much more important than both players have fun. You wouldn’t want to dominate the game and have nobody to play it with. 

Learn how to play with your opponent, discover interesting moves and share ideas to have a great time with the game for a very long time. 

Pros & Cons

Pros:

Patchwork is a game for players of all ages. Understanding the main concepts takes only a few minutes, and with some patience, even pre-school kids can grasp the gameplay. 

This isn’t to say the game is boring to play, far from it. The theme is interesting and the unique take on turn-taking adds up to a highly replayable game. Patchwork will not blow you away, but it has a flavor that can make it a game you’ll always pick up when you have half an hour to spare.

Cons:

  • Not for Everyone
  • Randomizing Gets in the Way

Uwe has designed Patchwork to be a simple and casual game from the ground up, so it’s unfair to criticize it for its lack of depth. However, that doesn’t mean it’s for everyone.

If you’re the type of player that likes a good competition, even if you have a like-minded opponent, you won’t be satisfied with Patchwork. The randomization elements are present throughout the gameplay, and no matter how skilled of a player you are, there are situations where it won’t change the outcome. 

The very low chances of filling up the board can be frustrating. Even though it’s intended to work that way, I’d still like to get that sense of satisfaction from a completed board more often.

Patchwork Review (TL;DR)

Patchwork is a casual two-player game best enjoyed in a few sessions with a family member. It’s far from a complicated game but still manages to retain high replay value. If you’re a highly competitive person, I suggest you skip Patchwork, but for anyone else, it’s going to be a fun little game. 

Conclusion: Verdict?

I was very excited to try out Patchwork, as I’m always looking for new two-player games to play with my wife. She’s more of a casual player while I enjoy the really heavy stuff, but Patchwork ended up being something we could both enjoy. 

For her, the biggest strength of Patchwork is the accessibility and simplicity of rules. Although she’s quite capable of competing in heavier games like Terraforming Mars, the initial information overload is what deters her from most games.

Despite how simple Patchwork is, I’ve had a lot of fun with it. All of my experience with board games didn’t help me in any way with Patchwork. I might have had an edge in the first few games as I understood the tile-laying concept, but within a few games she caught up with me.

Who you’re playing with has a lot to do with how much you’ll enjoy it. We quite enjoyed playing Patchwork, but over time both of us felt a need to try out something more complex. That’s where Cartographers came in, a game where you draw the tiles on a piece of paper, rather than lay down physical tiles. 

While I haven’t played Patchwork Doodle from the description it sounds a lot like Cartographers. If the theme of Patchwork has enticed you but the gameplay seems a bit too simplistic, picking up Patchwork Doodle is not a bad idea.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this Patchwork review! It’s certainly a game that wins you over with its charm and easy-to-approach gameplay rather than intriguing and mind-wrenching mechanics. Don’t hesitate to pick it up for a few fun sessions every now and then, you won’t regret it!

Patchwork
  • For 2 players
  • 15 minute playing time
  • Abstract, strategy game

Have you tried Patchwork or any of its other versions or expansions? What about other Eurogames? We’d love to hear your thoughts and favorites. Drop a comment below!

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Stats at a glance

Players: 2

Ages: 8 +

Easy

15-30 Mins

Publisher: Lookout Games

Published: 2014