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Game Overview: Die Patin, or An Otter You Can’t Refuse

by W. Eric Martin

Die Patin is an open-ended fight for control of a city between different mob families, each controlled by a godmother of a different animal species. This is a Zoch Verlag title, after all, so animals must be present!

Each player starts by controlling a territory of only one area, and in each of the game’s five rounds, you take four actions: three with your henchmen and one with your godmother. By taking these actions, you collect loot from districts in which you have a presence, eliminate opposing rats from manholes and put your own rats in place, take control of businesses, establish back rooms (which I call “safe houses” throughout the video below), and expand your territory.

After one round in a three-player game

The godmother takes a more powerful action than each henchman, but you must lock in her action before the round begins, so once the action kicks off, you need to ensure that you use her power as effectively as possible.

At the end of each round, you have ideally achieved one or more majorities in five categories: largest territory, most rats in a manhole, most manholes with rats, most back rooms on the board, or most loot tokens in hand. If so, then you score points equal to the current round — but then that majority is off the table for you the remainder of the game. Progress in scored categories isn’t worthless, though, as you can ideally keep others from scoring them.

At the end of a four-player game

This 2-5 player design from Pim Thunborg feels old-school in its combination of rules simplicity, in-your-facedness, and the ability to fail by making dumb moves.

Through poor planning, you can accomplish little to nothing, leaving yourself a ripe target for takeovers and near elimination. Heck, even when you’re playing well, you have to be prepared for retaliation because the only way to score in this game is to take over new businesses (ideally specializing in a trade for maximum points), remove opposing back rooms, and win majorities — which means you can never rest on what you have, but must always look for weakness in others that you can exploit.

For details on how to play, what the actions are, and how the game feels, watch this video, in which I discuss my experience with a three-player and a four-player game on a review copy of Die Patin from Zoch Verlag:

Youtube Video

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