Head-to-Head: Second Chance vs. Patchwork Doodle

Disclaimer: Second Chance was provided to Open Seat Gaming as a review copy, but opinions are our own based on several plays of the games. Patchwork Doodle was not a review copy; it was purchased. 

Disclaimer 2: Pictures for Second Chance are from the 2019 (1st edition) of the game. There will be a second edition printed in 2020 with different art, but the gameplay remains the same. 

Uwe Rosenberg is known for his worker placement games, like Agricola and Caverna. But, in the past few years, he’s gotten into the realm of working with polyominos – Tetris-style pieces – and has used them in a lot of different contexts. It all started with his hit 2 player game, Patchwork, and has gone from there.

In today’s post, we’re going to put his two “flip and fill” (roll and write with cards) titles head-to-head so that you can determine which is right for your game group, family, and/or collection.

Game 1: Second Chance
Publisher: Stronghold Games 
Design: Uwe Rosenberg
Number of Players: 1 to 6
Game Time: 10 to 15 minutes

Description: Players are given a grid sheet and dealt a random starting tile card. They draw this shape anywhere on their sheet as long as at least 1 square of the shape covers the center space.

Each round, 2 cards are revealed from the puzzle tile deck, and players must choose 1 of those shapes to draw on their sheet. Shapes must always be drawn within the confines of the grid, and cannot overlap other shapes.

If you are unable to legally draw either of the shapes, after all other players have finished drawing, you will get a “second chance,” where you can draw another puzzle tile card. If you can draw that, you keep going; if not, you are eliminated.

The game ends when all players have been eliminated, the deck of puzzle tile cards run out, or someone completely fills their grid. If someone filled their grid, they win! Otherwise, the winner is the player with the fewest empty squares in their grid.

Game 2: Patchwork Doodle
Lookout Games
Design: Uwe Rosenberg

Number of Players:
 1 to 6
Game Time: 
20 minutes

Description: Players are given a grid sheet and dealt a random start card. The shape from the start card must be drawn, but can be drawn anywhere in the grid. 8 patch cards are then dealt in a circle, with a token randomly placed between 2 of them.

Each turn, the turn player rolls the die and moves the token that many cards. The card landed on is the shape all players must draw. Shapes must always be drawn within the confines of the grid, and cannot overlap other shapes.

Players have 3 special actions they can use once each per game to modify the shape so that it can be drawn more easily or in a better place. There is also a 4th action that lets a player duplicate any of the other 3 actions once per game.

After the 6th turn of each round, there is a scoring round, then the remaining 2 cards are placed adjacent and 6 more cards are dealt, starting the next round. After 3 rounds, players total up their scores and the player with the most points wins!

Head-to-Head Review: 

First off, these are very simple roll and writes – you’re not looking at the next Cartographers or Welcome To. But, just because they’re simple, doesn’t mean they aren’t 100% worth your time. In fact, I’d argue that their simplicity is what makes these lovely games something that many gamers will want to add to their repertoire.

Like the series of polyomino games that came before it (Cottage Garden, Indian Summer, Spring Meadow), Second Chance’s first printing has a pretty little nature theme that connects it to this series of games (as previously mentioned, the 2nd edition updates the art, and it looks more like the other roll and writes from Stronghold). Every card has little flowers and other art that is reminiscent of the outdoors. I think it’s quite lovely.

Patchwork Doodle’s art is very similar to what you see in the original Patchwork games – it’s got more color to it, and it’s got that quilting theme. The bright colors are fun, and the buttons and such are cute additions to it.

Second Chance feels like it was the baseline idea of what Uwe had in mind for a polyomino roll and write. I don’t know which one of them was first, but I’d be willing to bet that he started with Second Chance. You learn it almost instantly – you get a card to start with, you start flipping cards and work from there. I truly think anyone could get the hang of Second Chance in a few minutes.

And Patchwork falls in line, while adding a couple elements. Instead of flipping cards, you’re rolling a die and moving a pawn around cards, then landing on one that you draw. I also really like the addition of the powers in Patchwork Doodle, though. It adds a bit more decision making to the game than what you have with Second Chance.

The “luck of the draw” (or die roll) is at the center of what you’re doing in both of these games, which is pretty typical in roll and writes of all sorts. There is skill involved – both involve a lot of spacial reasoning, where you have to consider how you’re drawing the polyominos and where they go. But it’s more about “working with what you have available” rather than planning out a number of moves.

You know, that’s what we enjoy about roll and writes, though. There’s something inherently fun about the tactical nature of them. And both Second Chance and Patchwork Doodle really have something about them that allows you to sit back and enjoy them. This is especially true during the COVID-19 pandemic (which is going on while I’m writing this, if you’re reading this in the future); sometimes, we just need games that help us sit back and relax.

The fact is, we really like Patchwork Doodle and Second Chance. Second Chance is beautifully simple and relaxing; it really puts you into a zen-like trance while you’re playing (at least, while you’re not panicking about fitting one last piece in your grid). Patchwork Doodle adds a bit of a theme to the mix, while also providing you with some unique player powers and choices, which makes it a bit crunchier to play. We have both in our collections –

Game On!

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