Lookee what he can do! He wants a job!
(image by ArtEmiSa64)
The Middle Ages was an interesting time in Italy. If you had wealth and influence, chances are you would need to prove that you were actually important. The Patricians had wealth and influence. Who are the Patricians? According to Wikipedia, "in modern English, the word patrician is generally used to denote a member of the upper class, often with connotations of inherited wealth, elitism, and a sense of noblesse oblige." Therefore, they had to prove they were important. How? Why by building tall, magnificent towers in the cities of the land, of course. And somebody has to build these towers (because they sure as heck weren't going to build their own towers). That's where the master builders come in.
That is the theme of Patrician. The players are the master builders, each one trying to have built the most floors of the towers. The Game board has a number of cities, each of which has areas to build two towers. There is a card face up next to each city showing some combination of one of the cities, a special action, or a portrait of a Patrician.
(image by edroz)
Players also have a hand of three cards. The players place one of their cards on the table, and the city shown on the card is where they build. Building involves putting one level of a tower in one of the two building areas and then taking the card that is showing, which then gets replaced from the deck. Each city has a number showing the total number of tower pieces which may be placed in that city. Points are scored by the player who has the most number of tower pieces in each building after the allowed number of tower pieces have been placed. Each city has two "prestige tokens" which are point values. The player who claimed the taller of the two towers gets the higher value token, and the palyer who claimed the shorter tower gets the lower value token. At the end of the game players look through the cards that they have played and score an additional six points for every matching set of three Patrician Portraits they have.
(image by Ceryon)
Patrician is a fairly simple game to learn and plays quickly. I liked the way it plays; you need to think about where you want to place a piece so you can claim a tower as well as getting a card that will help you on a later turn. However, there isn't a great deal of strategy involved, as the card placement is completely random. And just because you have what looks to be the majority of pieces in a building, it may not stay that way. One of the special actions that can be done is the ability to move the top floor of one building to the other tower in a city. This is not a game to play if you are not willing to try to win, because it is all about having the most levels in the tower. There are plenty of opportunities to "screw" the other player(s). Being the nice guy will not get you the win here.
(image by kilroy_locke)
I thought the game was fun to play, but it isn't a very heavy game. I would say that it is more than a filler game, but not a lot more. I would certainly play it again, though I am glad that I got it on sale.