Publisher: Lookout Games
Designer: Uwe Rosenberg
Artist: Klemenz Franz
Release date: 2019
1 – 6+ Players
Age 8+ (5+)
Favouritefoe #favouritefoefunlearning score: 8/10
As I mentioned in my NMBR9 review, we are passionate about polyominoes. Turning them, flipping them, fitting them together…..that’s our jam.
But sometimes, Mini-meeple is in a more creative mood. He isn’t often quick to suggest drawing or colouring as an activity because he loves to build. Our house is full of cardboard tubes, empty boxes, tape, glue sticks, staplers……everything an almost 6 year old needs to build a robot, a spaceship, or even an Ocado van (the more subtle effects of the Pandemic persist!). The practical hands-on experience turns his brain on in ways that simply blow me away.
And so, when he grabs his pencil case and asks to play Patchwork Doodle, it’s an automatic yes. With my mummy hat on, I am always happy to encourage and indulge his calmer, colouring side. Don’t get me wrong. I absolutely LOVE the fact that he wants to get stuck into so many 3D building projects. But as a parent, I also like to know that he is getting to experience different aspects of creativity, particularly when they are at his own instigation.
But does it pass the #favouritefoefunlearning series mark? Let’s find out!
As the title suggests, Patchwork Doodle is a fast, multiplayer reimplementation of Uwe Rosenberg’s storming 2 player puzzle game, Patchwork. And that quilt constructing gem is one of my longest owned games. In fact, I have two copies (original and Christmas themed) because it is so darn good!
[Fear not for I will be including Patchwork in the #favouritefoefunlearning series at some point. But for now, let’s focus on this variant.]
So how has Uwe repurposed Patchwork into a more sociable, speedy experience? Well, by turning it into a roll and write of course. And a sweet little, relaxing one at that!
Scribbling Set Up!
Like most roll and write games, set up is breeze. You get your own 9 x 9 sheet and the use of a selection of basic colouring pencil (or your own supply – trust me, you’ll want to use your own!).
Having each selected a starting shape card at random, you then draw that 6 square polyomino onto your own sheet. All of the starting cards are then returned to the box.
Finally, 8 patch cards are drawn at random from the deck of 30 and placed face up in a circle. The remaining cards are kept face down in a pile in the middle of the circle. The meeple (anyone who has played Agricola or All Creatures Big and Small will recognise the little farmeeple shape!) is then placed between two of them, ready to roam.
Played over three rounds, you will be drawing 6 shapes during each one (18 shapes in total). The shape you draw on every turn, however, is determined by where the little farmeeple lands after the dice is rolled. And whilst some patches can be mirror flipped, this doesn’t apply to all of them.
When there are only two cards left in the circle, the round ends, and you calculate your score for that round before setting up 8 new patch cards for the next one.
Although play happens simultaneously, and everybody draws the same patch each turn, there are 4 one-time use special actions available. And it is down to you as to when (and if) you use them. For example, you can choose to draw the patch adjacent to the patch the meeple landed on. Or, you can cut a patch into two, and use only one part of it. These are fun and add a little extra colour to the…..well, colouring!
The rounds continue until there are only 3 patches left in the 3rd round. Then, instead of rolling the dice, all players get a free choice on their last turn. And whoever has the most points overall is crowned the Patch-Daddy of the Doodles!
Unlike the original game, in Patchwork Doodle, scoring happens immediately after the end of each round. And the way it scores is a little different.
Once a round is over, you will look at your board and score one completely filled rectangle. But not just by counting the squares inside it. First, you find the largest square within it and score 1 point per square. Then you score an additional 1 point for every extra row or column within the rectangle that hasn’t already been counted as part of the square. The rule book has handy diagrams and an example which are really easy to follow.
It goes without saying that Mini-Meeple loves the artistic and puzzle elements of this game. He describes it as designing his own colourful jigsaw puzzle and solving it at the same time – and he is right.
Essentially, the most points come from interlocking as many drawn patches across your 9×9 grid as possible. And that happens when gaps are avoided through exercising sharp spatial skills. But timing is important if you want to win overall. Because you need to focus on building your largest rectangle and square ready to score at the end of each round, not just the end of the game.
And, whilst Mini-meeple doesn’t seem overly fussed about forming squares inside rectangles at the start, that quickly changes. As soon as someone scores more points than him in round one, his head is suddenly in the game! I would say that most of our games so far have been decided by what happens in round one. Not all of them – unlucky rolls and too-hasty use of bonuses can offer others a chance to sneak past. But a high score at the start can often set the scene for the rest of the game.
Like all the games we play together, Mini-meeple likes to add up the scores for each player. And with scoring happening after each round, that’s three opportunities to practice multiplication, addition, and pattern recognition skills inside 20 minutes. Parental Point Bonus!
I love seeing our son selecting shapes and drawing them in. Mini-meeple’s finished sheets are always a beautiful explosion of colours and creativity (although he does use his own pencils as the included ones are not very good). For us maxi-meeples, Patchwork Doodle is a fun, light, simple, relaxing filler game. And relaxation is not something that comes naturally to me. As such, this game (in both solo and multiplayer solitaire mode) represents a brief insight into a world where I have time to sit with my son and draw – a multicolour meditation with mummy and Mini-meeple.
For the joy and interest it inspires in Mini-Meeple (as well as providing me with a brief circuit-breaker!), Patchwork Doodle is a great addition to the #favouritefoefunlearning library!