It is always good to have a patron. That is, why you should think about the future and support somebody. Or are you good at something? Then, you will certainly appreciate a good patron saint, when good times become worse. Support is simply a way to satisfaction.
We too can become such esteemed patron. That is, why a new card game Patronize by Hisashi Hayashi came into the world. Its author got famous for his former card game Love Letter. His new creation comes again under flag of Alderac Entertainment Group, and was first published by AEG in 2014.
Already red seal on the lid tells us, that game belongs to world of city-state Tempest, like other games Dominare or Mercante. Box itself is small, and is thus becomse immediately obvious, that it is a card game. We start in the spirit of art on the lid and we see one of those skilful painters in front of his canvas.
Inside, we will have a little booklet with rules, that (just as the aforementioned Love Letter) has a surprising amount of pages. It is because of the small size, but also chosen font size can be blamed. On the inside, players expect only a deck of cards. In addition, wooden cubes of different colors will also fall out on the table.
But back to the cards, on which can be found either characters or fame. In the case of the first option, each artist has printed numerical representation of his fame, but also power, specialization (religion, exploration, science, art) and cube, that he provides. And there is some text with specific skill. Fame cards are reigned by large seal with a digit, but also equipped with two smaller symbols for things, that are currently in fashion (a choice of four specializations mentioned before). There are also briefing cards and then a package of bonus cards for other games set in the world of Tempest.
At the beginning of the game, players create two decks of cards with number in each pile dependent on number of players in the game (based on rules in a table). While celebrities cards are split among players and taken into hand, fame cards remain on the table as a face down pile.
Game itself is then divided into rounds. At the beginning of each turn, players reveal a new fame card, so they find out, what will be they playing for this time. And which skill is in fashion now. After that, players take turns to play one personality card and place it on the table with picture side up. But they also may pass current phase and wait for the next.
Once everyone played one card or surrendered this option, round ends and players need to determine winner. This will usually be the one, who played artist with highest power (printed in the upper left corner of the card). However, a much greater chance of winning is having character, whose skill is printed on fame card as desired specialization in fashion. This automatically trumps all others and winner is decided between representatives of this trump suit.
All players, who played a card, now get their reward in the form of cubes printed on played personality card. Only winner gets an additional reward in form of card itself, for which they were playing the whole time. Played artists then become proteges of their owners and will give them benefit written in text on the card in the subsequent rounds.
However, this peaceful conduct can be disrupted by those, who have not played any card. Anyone, who passed his playing turn can now steal one of his opponents cards and get it for himself. Players can defend agains this through black cube, which they received at the beginning of the game. They have only one and must use it wisely, placing it on one character after round. Such a personality is protected from stealing. Instead of stealing, players who have passed may also select any cube, if they are unwilling or unable to be thieves.
Game then continues by revealing more cards until the moment, when the supply of fame cards is exhausted. At this point, it is time to determine the winner. Every single player can calculate not only victory points gained for fame cards, but also gained cubes, including bonuses under protege and highest number of one particular suit (skill). Only one player, who has the highest gain in total, is the winner and best patron of all.
Patronize is an interesting game and you would probably not tell at first sight, that this is a trick-taking game. But really it is. This time, players do not determine trumps themselves, but luck of the shuffled deck decides for them. All participants must adapt to it even though they have unsuitable cards in their hand (due to bad luck). They can adapt and pass a round, gaining other privileges from it.
Entire game is extremely fast. Each round is only about playing one card, then you only have to evaluate the highest figure in the trump suit (or beyond) and split cubes. Some theft is done. Due to the fact, that game always lasts five to seven rounds, everything remains fast and new until the end. So the game ends after less than ten minutes! Great to hear, right?
But here at the same time builds momentum, that will spoil the joy of speed. It is counting points, which is not as simple as it might look at first glance. We are talking about the final scoring, after the game has ended. You can make it a little easier using scoring sheet, that can be downloaded from AEG website.
Game is not difficult, therefore we somehow do not understood its recommendations set to fourteen years and up. In fact, it is readily playable since ten. Good news is that the collecting cubes works well in all numbers from three to five.
Rules themselves are very simple. The only specifics arise from personality cards themselves. The characters are always a bit different, whether in power, fame or provided cube, so it’s always hard to decide, which exactly should you play. And if any at all. This possibility makes players the greatest possible wrinkles.
For a trick-taking game with such a small number of cards (all this will be accomplished with 29 cards), it is surprisingly tactical and players have a solid chance to influence their chances of winning. And they will certainly appreciate it. Despite the fact, that the game can stand out especially after several matches, when you are familiar with skills of different characters and you can concentrate only on tactics.
Patronize is a natural success. It’s because of quick playing time and tactical nature. Such simple card game with basic rules can immediately please you, when playing. This one is not perfect, but it does not really matter. Much more important is fact, that you will be having fun with Patronize.
Patronize is another game, that is riding on the wave of microgames. Twenty-nine cards are this time used, so you can play a trick-taking game. But all with one common deck, which will determine trumps for each round. Players also have option to skip the round, so they do not join in playing cards, if they do not have suitable card. And even this choice will provide them some options at the end of the round. Points can be obtained for various things, but this spoils impression of being otherwise really fast game. Actual scoring in the end is too long. This game works better after more matches, when you get familiar with card offer. Patronize is still a pleasant microgame and interesting way to try to win some tricks.