We review and compare Uwe Rosenberg’s two new roll and write games, Patchwork Doodle and Second Chance.

At first glance, you wouldn’t be faulted for thinking that Patchwork Doodle and Second Chance are the same game, albeit with slightly different appearances. They are roll and write games, that came out around the same time, and both designed by Uwe Rosenberg. They also both have players drawing “Tetris shapes” on a 9×9 grid. They are also both listed as 1-6 players. However, they are different games. So which one of these 2019 releases are worth picking up? Is there a better one? Let’s take a look.

Patchwork Doodle Gameplay Summary: Players are drawing quilt shapes (read: polyomino shapes) dictated by cards on a 9×9 grid. There are 3 scoring rounds and at the end of the game, you add the scores up and subtract points for any empty spaces. Highest scores win. In a round, someone will place out 8 cards (each showing one shape) in a circle and a die is rolled. You move a pawn that many spaces and everyone has the option to draw that shape. Then the shape is taken out of the circle. When 2 cards are left a scoring round is triggered. Players find their biggest rectangle, and then find the biggest square in that – then score the area of the square plus 1 point for any row/column left over. (For example, if you had a 4×5 rectangle, you score the 4×4 square or 16 points, plus 1 point for a column left over for 17 points).

Patchwork Doodle also has a one-time ability to make things a little easier on the player. These are: (1) place a single square (patch), (2) cut a shape in two and use one of two cut pieces, (3) instead of drawing the current shape choose to draw the shape either right or left of the current card and finally (4) repeat a power. 

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Second Chance Gameplay Summary: Players are drawing polyomino shapes from cards on a 9×9 grid. Two cards are flipped over each turn and all players MUST place one of the two shapes (their choice). If you cannot place a shape, the player gets a second chance (hence the title of the game). A second chance is a card that just that player gets. If they can place this shape, they stay in the game, if they cannot, they are eliminated. Players can have any number of second chance opportunities. The game ends when everyone has been eliminated, if someone filled in their 9×9 grid completely or all the cards in the draw pile run out (not enough for round or second chances). The winner is whoever has the most of their grid filled in. Also note, just because your get eliminated, doesn’t mean you won’t win the game. 

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As mentioned at the start, they both are a draw and write polyomino game, that takes places on a 9×9 grid. (Also, as I should note that both pads have double-sided sheets).They are both designed by the same designer, but they are different. Here are some of the differences: 

  • Patchwork Doodle comes with color pencils in the box, Second Chance doesn’t come with any writing implements. That said, Second Chance does come with an Easter Bunny expansion (at least the Stronghold Games version does), to Rosenberg’s Cottage Garden, another polyomino game he designed.
  • Second Chance uses mini-cards, while Patchwork Doodle uses full-size cards. Patchwork Doodle cards also give you a little more info on the cards like the number of spaces the shape takes up and a few even have the mirror image of the shape in the corner. 
  • Second Chance, as a few advance shapes (read: harder to place) that Patchwork Doodle doesn’t. 
  • In Second Chance, players will not know what is coming around the corner exactly. There are three reference cards that come with the game that tells players what shapes are on the cards, so you can kinda know. That said players cannot plan out as well as Patchwork Doodle, where you can see the 8 possible choices for the round. And the final round, you have an option out of 3 cards (what’s left) as to what to draw for your final shape. 
  • Which brings up the next difference. Patchwork Doodle as 3 scoring rounds, with Second Chance having no rounds, just scoring at the end. 
  • In Patchwork Doodle, players have 4 one time use powers (well 3 and a repeat), not so with Second Chance, no powers. 
  • Both games, players each start with a unique starting shape (an example of starting shapes for both games can be found in the pictures above. Look at the cards at the bottom right). At the start of Second Chance, players must place their starting shape to cover a marked square at the center of the 9×9 grid. There is no such restriction in Patchwork Doodle, you can place anywhere. 
  • Speaking of placing shapes. In Patchwork Doodle, you don’t have to place a shape if you don’t want to. However, in Second Chance you are eliminated if you cannot place a shape (or rather the second chance shape). There is no player elimination in Patchwork Doodle.

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So which is better? 

If you want to introduce one of these games to non-gamers, you may want to go to Second Chance. Why? It’s due to faster play (no round setup, no round scoring, etc) and easier to understand scoring.

That said, the 3 people in my house that have played both games a couple of times – all agree that we like Patchwork Doodle slightly bit more. Though it may also depend on our mood or not, which will choose to play at any given time. My wife did mention she could see herself playing Second Chance over Patchwork Doodle if she was tired out from the day’s work, due to its straightforwardness (again no round setup, no round scoring, etc). So why did we choose Patchwork Doodle (even if just by a little bit)? It could be it was one we first played. However, I think its more to do with the one time powers,  knowing what is coming up (at least for this round), no elimination and not having to place if you don’t want to.

I will say the scoring can be a negative in Patchwork Doodle. I have to find the rectangle and THEN the square in that?  Unless, of course, you have a square, because a square counts as a rectangle. In fact, our kids have us score the rounds for them because they cannot wrap their heads around it yet. That said, the positives outweigh the negative, enough to etch out this one as our favorite among the two, even if it’s a little non-gamer friendly. 

That said BOTH games are worth owning. They may even feel the tiniest bit different in play – in Second Chance, the middle starting shape may be harder to place shapes later one. In Patchwork Doodle, you want to keep the shapes together to form a rectangle for the scoring of the rounds. However, in Second Chance, placing things together may not be the best option, you may want to spread them out. Also, some may actually like not being able to somewhat plan ahead. In Patchwork Doodle, you somewhat know what shapes can happen. In Second Chance, you can look at the reference cards, but unless it’s near the final rounds you really don’t know what the next two flipped over cards will be. 

In the end, I don’t think you can go wrong with either game (or like us go for both) if you take your time to color/make designs it can be quite relaxing to play. These game get high recommendations from our family. However, keep in mind as you pick one or both of them up, just make sure to also pick up some colored pencils or pens – you are gonna want to have fun making works of art.