Beep. You there. Yes you. Pick up your tablet, we’ve got important work to be taking care of. No, ignore those facebook messages and important looking emails, your friend Kevin wants to show you his awesome blanket. In the fast-paced world of competitive e-quilting, the world is your haberdashery. Patchwork, the fancy shmancy digital app takes all of the hassle out of playing a board game about needlework and digitises it for the tablet generation. Now you can answer that major burning question: which of your facebook friends is the dandiest needle and threader in town, while you continue geotagging selfies and tweeting your Beliebers.
Digidiced’s Patchwork is an Android, iOS and Windows app based on the Uwe Rosenberg’s two player board game of the same name.
Silence your push notifications, ignore your instagram updates and charge all of your devices, while we take a critical adventure into a Tron-like fabric world.
A Beginner’s Guide To Sewing
As every self respecting millennial knows, there’s a tutorial for everything if you know what to google. But wait, no need to rickroll your way over to the YouTubes, let me explain how Patchwork is played.
Patchwork is a game of spacial and financial planning. The game begins with two empty blanket boards, a time track, and a line of Tetris-looking puzzle pieces. In the real world, you’d place the patch pieces in a great big circle on the table, on the app you’ve got a scrollable row, so you can view the upcoming pieces ahead of time.
The idea is pretty straight forward. Spend buttons to buy patches, use patches to build your blanket, collect more buttons to buy more patches. Spaces = bad.
Each player starts out with a small stack of buttons, ready to be spent. At the beginning of your turn, any pieces available for purchase will sparkle like a Twilight Vampire. The rules for buying a piece are as follows:
- It’s one of the next three pieces. I know that Netflix has spoiled you, but you will have to wait for the other pieces.
- You have enough hard button cash to cover the cost.
- You have enough space for it on the board (doy).
Once you’ve figured out the financial logistics (your parents will be so proud), pay the fee and take that angular fabric swatch and choose where you want to place it. You can rotate it and flip it into any orientation your fickle taste dictates. Once you’ve selected your position and hit the go button, your selection will the sewn into place and cannot be removed, even with the most hardcore of stitch unpickers.
Once you’ve paid your fee and placed your piece, you’ll move along the time track, the same number of spaces displayed on your new piece’s price tag. If, during a turn, you cross a button icon on the time track, you take income equal to the number of buttons on your game board. If you’re the first player to pass a Leather Patch icon, you get a free teeny one-square patch to fill in any pesky space on your board. If you’re the player the furthest along the time track after moving, your turn ends. If not, you can continue you turn, buying more items or passing to get more buttons, until you are the leading player.
Passing your turn moves you to the space directly in front of the opposing player, and gives you buttons equal to the space moved.
Then it’s the next player’s turn! Player 2 is shown which tiles, if any, they can buy and play continues until both players have passed the finishing line on the time track.
If you are the first player to fill in a contiguous space of 7×7 squares, you are awarded a special bonus of 7 points, which will help you at the end of the game.
The winner is the player with the highest value patchwork blanket, which is calculated as 1 point for every button in your bank (not on your board), minus 2 points for every hole, or empty space in your wondrous creation. Bazinga! You’re competitive sewing’s Sheldon Cooper, which is apparently a person on a thing that you young people like.
I’m already a fan of the Patchwork game, I bought a Polish version when it was out of stock in the UK. You’ll know from my previous review that I’m open minded about theme, which, let’s face it, is a bit odd for a modern board game. But if you’re someone who is worried about losing bro points (eurgh), I can conceive of the theme being a little off-putting. But those people earn a SOLID SWIPE LEFT on the Tinder of life. It’s ‘girly’. Deal with it. Not much else is, just let the pink sparkly unicorns have this one.
The app is so super themey, I’m surprised it’s not embroidered onto a Victorian Sampler (oh yeah, I know the lingo). Every pixel oozes needle and thread. The art is really very very pretty and anything than can possibly be animated, is. Scrolling through the upcoming pieces? These little cloth cogs you hadn’t even noticed? Yeah, they spin around at the same time.
The default animation is a double edged sword. It looks great and makes it incredibly clear as to what is happening at any given time, but it also means that I find myself looking at the screen wishing it would speed up so I can get to my turn. Turns out that even though the internet has made me very impatient, I don’t have to worry. While I was taking screenshots for this here review, I noticed the game speed setting in the options! You can even turn the resolution and FX down. My battery life was very relieved to find this feature is is very grateful for the break.
With every piece of software, there are of course hiccups. On my first day of playing others online, I was plagued with network connectivity errors, despite having tanked WiFi and 4G coverage. A few days ago a disastrous bug hit the app, which claimed that users’ ‘Test Version’ of the game had expired. There was a workaround however, and it took less than a day for Digidiced to fix the issue. No app is totally bug free but the response from the developers was much better, and far quicker, than most of my experiences with software support.
The game itself is pretty great- it mixes spacial awareness with resource planning in a way that is light enough to be easy to learn, but also tactical enough to feel fulfilling as a 1v1 game. If you’d like thoughts on the board game’s mechanics and play style, check out our review of the cardboard version.
So how does it stack up against the actual board game and why should you consider it instead? Well, for one, it’s cheaper. Apps often serve as a good way to test whether you enjoy a game, particularly if it’s not already digitised on the likes of boardgamearena.com. Playing some local games will give you a good enough feel for how the tabletop version plays, and whether you want to buy it. Plus it saves on set up time, if you’re feeling lazy or don’t have much table space.
I’m thoroughly enjoying the Casual game option, where I can play against friends in unranked matches. The app is cross-platform so it doesn’t matter if you’re into Apple or Samsung, you can still battle each other in the most polite, artistic way possible. I’ve currently got about a dozen games active, all with people I know through social network board game groups. I’m less of a fan of the ranked matches but that’s just because I prefer to know my opponents and have never really been interested in points and achievements.
One big setback for me, when comparing it to the real alternative, is that the loss of the ‘big circle of Tetris pieces’ makes the perfect information a little… less perfect? You can still see all of the upcoming pieces, but not as quickly and accessibly as you’d see them laid out on a table. I’m finding that I’m not planning my purchases on the app nearly as much as I do when playing it on the table. I might occasionally check, to see if I can chain a couple of cheap purchases but I’m rarely planning ahead to identify which pieces my opponent might be waiting for. The information is still there, but due to its layout I’m less inclined to look at it, like I naturally would in its analogue alternative.
The tutorial is solid. If you’re unfamiliar with the game, the tutorial mode, with its bells and whistles animations should make it a cinch to learn. The app navigation isn’t quite as intuitive as I would like. Opening it for the first time was a little daunting and I still haven’t figured out whether it’s possible to see game stats between individual players (Shazza reckons she’s won 3 matches against me but I heard from Joe that she was a dirty liar so who do I believe??). It’s fine once you’ve figured out how to navigate the various screens, though there are LITERALLY (not literally) eight billion of them.
The push notifications are annoying when you’ve got as many active games as I have, since you get an update every time an opponent makes a move. I’d love to see those notifications amalgamated so instead of having 21 little lines of text to dredge through, I’d have one that reads ‘21 of your games require your undivided attention’. That would be far less invasive to my home screen. I won’t turn them off though, because one time I did that and lost four different games due to forgetting and timing out. I need the app to gently nudge me, but I could do without its incessant nagging.
So. I don’t think it would be fair to judge this app in the same way that I do board games. It would be like comparing GTA V with Agricola and expecting it to make any sense at all. I’m not giving it a rating, as it would only end up being more misleading than it would helpful. I will instead, give a recommendation to buy. If you like the cardboard game and wish you could play with a wider range of people, buy it. If you like the game but wish you could solo play, then there’s a handy AI with variable difficulty. If you’ve never played the original, still buy it because I said so. It’s not without its faults but it’s certainly in my top three board game apps.
iSlaytheDragon would like to thank Digidiced for providing a review code for the Patchwork Android app.