The Patrician. (computer simulation game) (Software Review) (Evaluation)
by Rick Broida
If you've ever aspired to trade your way through medevial Germany in the time of the Hanseatic League (and who among us hasn't?, check out The Patrician, a historically accurate trade simulation game for one to four players.
For those of you who slept through Hanseatic League day in history class, a patrician is any person of high rank or nobility--and the title you're striving for. Starting as a lowly trader with one ship and a few thousand drachmas, you must establish yourself as a reputable businessperson (your character may be male or female) by successfully trading 18 types of goods among 16 towns. As your fortunes grow, so do your opportunities. You'll share the wealth with townspeople, councilmen, and clergy, throwing lavish feasts and spreading bribes; you'll use your ships to fend off pirates; and, if all goes well, you'll be elected mayor.
Once you're mayor and in the League, you'll continue trading and building your fortune. If you're lucky, the other members will acknowledge your business acumen by electing you Patrician of the League.
Getting started is simple; winning is another matter. The Patrician installs easily from two compressed disks, taking just 4MB of hard drive space. Copy protection requires you to find the proper coat of arms from an included map of cities and trade routers.
Setup aside, The Patrician is like a movie: It has interesting characters, a unique plot, gorgeous scenery and an exciting musical score. Unfortunately, the script is muddled. Just learning to navigate through a town's various districts requires careful study of the manual, and discovering what to do in these parts is harder still. Making money seems impossible: You buy goods in one town and then can't find anyplace that will buy them at a higher price. There are fees levied with every port visited, so just searching for a profitable deal will run you into the red. Worst of all is the manual, which is poorly organized and lacking in vital gameplay information, it offers little recourse for the confused gamer.
Still, strategists love a challenge, and The Patrician is a humdinger. If complexity is the ingredient you've constantly found lacking in strategy games, The Patrician won't disappoint you.