We at Diary of a Lincoln Geek have been lucky enough to get a chance to play a preview copy of this great new game Patriot having been shared the Workshop File on Tabletop Simulator, which is now available for you to be able to try for yourselves!
Read our review below and find out what we thought of the game. Is it a new classic or just a failed coup?
Players: 1 - 6
Game Time: 30 minutes per player
Patriot is a hidden loyalty game for 1-6 players from Wild Robot Games and takes place in a not-too-distant future where military might is required to stop the rioting as the government tries its best to manage to manage a failing economy. The players act as the president and key advisors in the government. However, as with any political dealing everyone has their own agenda and at least one of you will be looking to kill the president! The 1-2 player variant is a campaign mode where you play one of several scenario racing to complete your task in time. Coming to Kickstarter on 5th October, be sure to check out the early bird discounts where the first 100 backers can get an impressive discount of $40 off the deluxe edition. Make sure to check out the Kickstarter Campaign to secure your copy.
Anyone even vaguely familiar with the Diary of a Lincoln Geek team will know we love social deduction games, and we all took to this hidden loyalty game very easily. The game is played over a series of five rounds where each player gets their turn to collect new skill cards that are used to complete skill checks for actions and to complete briefs, events which occur at the end of each players turn. During each round, the government will have been sent a demand letter which forms a collective event that the players should try and resolve together or face severe penalties. The objective of the game depends of course on your allegiance and personal objective cards, but generally require you to survive to the end of round five without the president getting assassinated or the threat level getting too high.
On their turn, each player will draw cards to gain their resources based on their appropriate skills shown on their character board. They may then take actions up to their action point limit. Actions are based on the various spaces around the game board, which is separated into four main areas: the treasury where the coins are earned, the spy centre where special actions are carried out including assassination attempts, the science sector where you can gain powerful bonuses and seek to improve life for the people and lastly the war council where you can spread your military might to quell riots.
At the end of each player turn, you will draw a brief card which represents a challenge or opportunity that may require a skill check that all players can contribute towards.
I could go into more detail listing individual actions, but it would seem rather lengthy here given the vast choice of options available on the board. This is a good sign really that you can expect this game can and will be played many different ways and has loads of replayability.
From our playthroughs it was clear there is a lot of variance in the game and we came across some unbalanced situations that present an interesting learning curve to the game. While you may be clearly excelling one area you can't leave all your eggs in one basket as eventually the traitor will get their opportunity to strike!
The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants - Thomas Jefferson
One key aspect of the game is keeping the public opinion reasonable to prevent riots occurring, which is a very bad thing for the players as it will prevent action space being used and increase threat levels for the players, and a riot that is not dealt with promptly will grow each round and can quickly spiral out of control!
Whilst we've not tested the 1-2 player campaign mode, the game play is very similar except that you play against an automated opponent. A very common method of resolving lower player counts in such games and not something I usually enjoy but can be a great puzzle for those that like such things. Given the similarities of gameplay it didn't really feel necessary to spoil the surprise of the campaigns by going into it much further here.
Whilst I can't comment on component quality as we only had a digital copy to preview the quality of the Workshop File on Tabletop Simulator speak volumes as to the company's design ethics. The artwork is absolutely stunning throughout and all the component ooze with theme which is clearly baked into the whole design from the ground up. Even sometimes if that is not actually the best decision... case in point for us was the rule book which often has text at unusual angles which makes it challenging to read and understand. I could see that this was style choice but made it a little inaccessible.
So let's break it down for you in our key areas:
Given the number of different player characters and the combination of loyalties and objective this game has great levels of replayability.
From our experience it's difficult to comment, as we only played the digital edition.
I love the theme personally as I have always enjoyed dystopian sci-fi genres so this appealed to me greatly. They have made a huge effort to make sure that a consistent theme has been applied throughout and it really helps make the game more of an experience.
It's a mid-heavy weight game that feels reminiscent of classics like Dead of Winter and Battlestar Galactica.
The rules were relatively simple to pick up given our experience, however given some of the choice for theme the rulebook is not ergonomically friendly and a new player to the genre might struggle with some of the concepts.
There are plenty of games that use similar themes and mechanics like the ones listed earlier that we drew comparison from.
It's not cheap but then a big-box Kickstarter with lots of minis isn't going to be either... It might be a little pricy potentially compared to other games on the market.
Overall, there was plenty to really enjoy with the game, it's a genre we love in a setting that appeals to me and it embodies the mechanics and playstyles of previous favourite games. It's not without fault though as I would baulk slightly at the price, and it is not as finely honed in terms of game balance which is a slight draw-back for me.
That being said however, I loved playing this and would happily play it again, so if the price is right for you, I'd recommend backing this great project.
Your friendly DoaLG rules lawyer
George E Ohh
I really enjoyed playing a four-player game of Patriot with fellow DOALG members Dan, George and Pete, in which I played as President. All four of us are well versed in social deduction/traitor mechanic games so picked up the rules and gameplay quickly. Our playthrough perhaps went a little too swimmingly as we were barely affected by riots at all, but I can see how we probably just got lucky and that they could be pretty devastating. So, you may have vastly different playthrough experiences each time with varying degrees of satisfaction thus. It felt that it was a more chilled experience playing as president and not having to worry about turning traitor, so lesser experienced players in the genre could opt for this to get used to the game.
Your resident Word-Nerd Sueyzanne
Generally speaking, I enjoyed the game. The theming is fun and I like the mechanics, though I do agree with others who feel the balance may be a little wonky. I’ll also add that playing as the assassin was an interesting experience. I had both the “fake an assassination” and the actual “assassinate the president” objectives in my hand, which George rightly pointed out is an unfortunate combination for the assassin (my unique luck strikes again). I will admit I made a Hail Mary play to successfully assassinate the president, but I was wracking my brains on how best to pull it off prior. I appreciate my viewpoint may be a little different when compared to the others I tested the game with due to me being the assassin, but my main criticism of the objective is how a failed assassination attempt leaves the player with a giant target painted on their back. I feel there may need to be at least one more way for the assassin to assassinate the president, perhaps one that is more subtle and won’t leave them exposed if it fails. Of course, my views are coming from someone who’s only played both the game and assassin loyalty once, so they may be subject to change as and when I play the game and loyalty more.
The one and only Ult.Pete