What is Patriot?
*Note* Copy of the game provided by the publisher for review purposes.
Patriot is a board game of social deduction, politics, and assassination. Player’s take on the role of the President of Karmonia and his inner circle. What the president doesn’t know is that someone at the table has betrayed him. One morning a letter arrives detailing how the President will be killed and what he must do to avoid that lethal bullet. Relying on his most trusted advisers and family members the President brings together the group to follow the demands while at the same time buying time in order to root out the traitor. By performing special tasks, deploying the military, expanding the government’s drone program, and rushing dangerous science experiments to completion maybe they can discover the identity of the assassin and save the President.
How is it Done
Patriot runs over the course of seven days. Each day begins with a letter from the assassin detailing their demands and the consequences of failing to meet them. Players then use a number of action points to perform actions that will allow them to circumvent the tasks at hand. Players have four different government buildings to visit during their turn. Each building has its own function. The Treasury allows the player to effect taxes, gather funds for other projects, or look at market trends to influence future problems. The Surveillance Center allows players to deploy beacons or drones to spy one the populace or perform powerful actions. Players can also attempt to have one of the other player assassinated. At the Research Laboratory players can perform scientific research, attempt to use science to quell public outrage, and put dangerous experiments into the field. Finally, the War room allows players to deploy and move troops around the board. It also allows players to have rioters executed. As the board of tourism says, Karmonia welcomes (and pardons) citizens who wish to execute rioters!
The major crux of the game is that while players are all performing these actions in order to get to the save the president; the assassin is using these actions to subtly influence the board to bring the President closer to death. This is helped at the end of each player’s turn when they must deal with the business of running the government. The last thing a player does on their turn is to draw and deal with a brief card. Briefs are votes or policy decisions that force the players to make hard decisions. There are two types of briefs; influence briefs and choice briefs. Both have different problems. Choice briefs force players to choose between two options. Both options typically feature a good and bad part. While either decision will accomplish something good, it will also put something bad into play. The problem becomes the cost vs the benefit. It’s not always an easy decision. The second brief is the influence variety. Influence briefs require a secret vote to be cast. Players use cards from their hand that represent their pull in the various sections of government. After the players have voted the public gets to weigh in by adding two cards from a blind stack that had been set up at the beginning of the game. The cards are shuffled and votes tallied. Success can usually result in some impressive gains while failure at the wrong moment can be disastrous.
What do I think?
I like Patriot. The back and forth nature of how the pieces and systems work balanced against the tension of who is the assassin works well. The game was a little long, but I think that will fix itself with experience. Still being new to the rules we had to keep looking things up. Other than that the game plays nicely. We always felt like we had something to do and the job both finding and being the assassin was decently challenging without over balancing the game one way or another.
Thematically the game is amazing. We felt like a third world dictatorship. Even options that seem odd felt perfectly in character. You use science to make the population happy. Which we read as drugging the water. You quell riots through execution. This is one of those weird instances where the assassin was sort of the hero. The options you have cause a lot of really great moments. Putting science cards into play can cause reject cards to come up. When you draw a reject card you have to play them, and they can cause anything to go wrong. In one game the president flipped a card that caused him to become the instant target of an assassination vote. I don’t know what we made but it went right for the president.
The stories that came out of this game are amazing and we’re still telling them. I had fun with this game and am looking forward to playing again. I can’t wait to see the final version. Right now everything has a layer of fun to it.
Are there and negatives?
There are one or two. The game feels a little like Battlestar Galactica. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing. It will bother some people but I was perfectly okay with the small overlap with the other game. The only reason I mention it here is because it did come up during play. Another problem is that the rules need to be tweaked a little. However, it’s a Kickstarter and that’s a part of it. It’s better to get the rules in the hands of people now so those changes can be made before the game goes into print. If this were a finished product I would call this a major drawback but since we’re rolling in a Kickstarter it’s something that is easily fixed.
It’s good. I absolutely think it’s worth backing and imagine people will have one hell of a good time with it when they get their hands on it. I know it’s coming to Kickstarter in July and I encourage everyone to check out the campaign when it gets here. It’s fun, funny, and entertaining game with a great theme that take’s itself just serious enough to be a thoughtful experience. Take a look, it’s worth your time.