Patchwork The Game for iOS is yet another popular board game brought lovingly to iOS. I don't use that word lightly, by the way. Patchwork The Game positively reeks with folksy charm and craftyness (not to be confused with craftiness), is surprisingly easy to learn, features a robust multiplayer component, and has ridiculously deep strategic depth. If you're wondering why they call it: Patchwork The Game instead of just Patchwork, try searching for that single word on the App Store. While I sympathize with developers trying to work within the App Store's abysmal discovery algorithms, I can't seem to keep my mind from wandering to Spaceballs the Movie! or Spaceballs the Flame Thrower! Whenever I see the name.
Gameplay consists of placing Tetris-like fabric pieces onto your quilt, and advancing your token around the game board. Buttons are needed to purchase the fabric pieces, and these pieces also moves your token various amounts. If you don't have enough buttons to purchase a piece, you can pass, which will award you buttons and move your token exactly one space in front of your opponent. This is almost never a good choice, by the way, because you miss out on placing a piece of fabric, and the first move of each round always goes to whoever is behind. Players can also receive an extra move by landing directly on top of their opponent's token. The game is over when a player moves his/her token to the final position. Victory goes to the player with the fewest "holes" in their quilt. I learned the hard way that the game considers holes to be any uncovered space. This means that you do NOT want to waste time fastidiously filling every space as your craft your quilt. Instead, grab the largest fabric pieces you can to cover the maximum amount of space possible. Of course, if you don't make some effort to fit these pieces together as well as possible (all pieces can be rotated and flipped as you like) you will quickly run out of usable board space (hint: it's possible to look ahead to see what shapes are forthcoming. Use this to your advantage). That isn't the only consideration, however, because some pieces have buttons on them, and these buttons will award you bonus buttons as you play. Also, as I mentioned earlier, each piece comes with a movement allowance. Sometimes it's best to take a less advantageous piece in order to either stay behind your opponent, or even better, land directly on top of him/her. Yes, there's a lot going on here. Multiplayer is asynchronous, however, if both players are online during the match, it can feel almost like real time. I found it to be rock-solid.
The graphics of Patchwork are beautiful without being sappy, and the game has a wonderful gender-neutral vibe to it in spite (or maybe because) of it being a cutthroat quilting game. I just really found myself appreciating the folksy hand-sewn appearance, and never stopped to consider its manliness quotent. There are different themes, however, in case you want to mix the visuals up a bit. Patchwork comes with two, and there are an additional three available for purchase for $0.99 each. As I've said time and again, IAPs don't raise my hackles if your purchases are persistent (e.g. non-consumable), and the price of these themes seems reasonable, and the purchases entirely optional. Lastly, the music and sound are also first-rate, although I found myself turning the music down quite a bit to keep my wife from hurling things at me as I played. Like most in-game music, its catchy and not particularly varied so it can quickly result in an angry spouse absent-mindedly humming it while she Facebooks. Amusingly, she was still humming it the next morning, which resulted in another object being thrown in my direction as we rushed the kids off to school.
If you're looking for another boardgame to add to your collection (I have an entire screen on my iPad dedicated to my top 20) I can easily recommend Patchwork. It's one of the easiest to learn, yet there's enough going on here that I defy you to find a formula for winning. I finally won my first game against Quilty The Owl (not his real name) last night, and I was euphoric.
Ratings (scale of 1 to 5):
Graphics: - 5 - Beautiful, charming, full of personality. Sound: - 4 - The sound effects are perfectly subtle, and the music is infectious. Controls: - 5 - You will never wonder how to do something, or make a mistake you can't undo. Gameplay: - 5 - Multi-layers of strategy, yet all are easily grasped. Multiplayer works perfectly.
Playing Hints and Tips:
Take the largest fabric pieces you can afford. As long as it fits reasonably well onto your quilt. Unless it doesn't have buttons and you need buttons. Or will move your token in front of your opponent. If you're married, turn the music down.