Build to win in this board game for up to five players set during the Middle Ages, where you compete to create bigger towers and earn more favor with powerful Italian families.
|Patrician: Towering Glory||Mayfair Games||Board Game|
In The Box
Patrician: Towering Glory is a game about building, so it shouldn’t be any surprise to find a bevy of stackable wooden pieces in the box. These are shaped like a flattish roof and come in five colors, one for each player around the table. On our first unboxing, the kids started immediately competing to see how high the wooden pieces would stack. Although it might seem like this is the point, you actually don’t end up with more than about 4-5 “floors” per tower due to some natural limitations factored into the game’s design.
Also inside the box are some handsome and initially rather cryptic cards that players use to direct their building strategies. The board is richly illustrated with maps of 10 Italian locations, showing a map of the city’s layout during the Middle Ages plus an artistic rendering of its skyline from that time period. You can flip the board to accommodate smaller or larger gaming groups, which is a handy design feature.
Finishing the package are cardboard tokens showing city emblems on one side and numbers on the other. There are 20 of these, or two per city, bearing the crest and color associated with each city on the game’s board and in the card deck. The numbers shown on these tokens end up being a big part of determining who is declared the winner.
How It Plays
Some games are a challenge to learn because of the large number of deep strategic decisions that happen each turn. Patrician is a breeze to learn, but reveals its deeper strategy slowly over a few sessions.
Players set up the board by placing two cardboard tokens in each city; there’s nothing random about this, so cities have the same “weight” from game to game based on strategic point values. Building cards are shuffled and distributed to players, from a subset of the deck marked as Start Cards. Each city then gets one building card before the remainder of the deck becomes available to draw from during each round.
Opponents take turns playing building cards into their personal discard piles, stacking wooden pieces in cities, and adding to tower floors already played. Each city can support only so many floors before it’s considered complete, at which point the players who contributed more floors to the towers will receive one or both of the city’s two cardboard tokens. Cards are marked with portraits of Italian nobles, and a second strategy is to collect groups of these cards in your discard pile, representing the favor of certain families. After building in a city, you have the chance to take and replace that city’s building card, which helps you obtain cards best suited to your building strategy.
The game ends when every city on the board is developed and all scoring tokens have been distributed. Players add up the value of their accumulated tokens, plus any points from their discard pile, to determine who will be crowned the most influential Italian builder.
Young players easily grasp the idea of scoring based on who builds the most floors in a given city, but the deeper strategy of obtaining cards and matching suits makes for the recommended 10+ age range. The concept of building in certain cities just to obtain cards is where Patrician gets interesting.
One thing I like about this game is that it’s almost always going to be close. One person could have control of more towers while another will have collected more family portraits, and they’ll both end up with decent scores. Finding the best of both worlds is the key to winning!