GAME ON: City-builder ‘Patron’ adds complexity to base model ‘Banished’

Veterans of city-building games have probably played “Banished,” and gamers of that game will immediately find “Boss,” created by Croatian developer Overseer Games, extremely similar.

City-builders have been around for a long time. I started with “SimCity” in the 90s, and now there are hundreds of games in the genre. Survival city builders are a slightly different breed, where the goal is more than just building a city to maximize population; there is an initial and main objective of not letting all your people die.

The early years of the Survival Builder are usually the toughest, as your villagers may run out of firewood to stay warm, starve, and become too weak to work properly. Lack of food can lead to poor health; then people get sick; it spreads, and suddenly you have a map with zero resident – forever.

The basics of the survival builder are pretty basic. First, secure housing for your handful of residents. Then have them chop down trees and gather food, taking care of the two biggest immediate concerns. After that, start working on production, such as mining coal and iron, making tools and clothes, and expanding city services. These initial stages in “Patron” are pretty much a clone of “Banished”.

It doesn’t take too long, however, for “Patron” to differentiate itself from its larger influence (although it does so by taking influence from other games, such as “Anno” and “Civilization”).

You will soon notice that you live in a monarchy, and there is a king who occasionally sends you edicts, raising trade charges on various goods, raising or lowering taxes, or sometimes just sending you money or additional resources to do good. work.

There is also a tech tree that must be unlocked, allowing access to production buildings, a more advanced town hall, and new policies that can be enacted. These policies, which cost influence (and often money or resources), will help direct your community as desired, such as increasing the production of certain industries.

The other major component of “Patron” is its happiness system. Once your people – all initially peasants – have met their basic needs, they, like most humans, will start to want more, and the game shows you different gauges to determine their overall satisfaction. Rather than just a “happiness” statistic, villagers care about health, safety, immigration, loyalty, education, religion, and luxuries. For example, peasants like to experience luxuries such as candles. (Candles! What opulence!)

As the game progresses, class stratification suddenly appears, as the largesse of a prosperous society created by the peasants begets the working class, and if production and luxury continue to expand, the merchant class and finally the gentry – the unofficial nobles and financiers. the elite.

Each of these classes have different wants and needs, and not just what luxuries will make them happy, but different opinions on immigration, loyalty to the king, and religion, for example, and it’s your job to decide. trying to appease everyone.

“Boss” is one of those survival games where the first winter might be tactile, but after that it’s probably smooth sailing, although it does have “challenge maps” (such as archipelagos or cold environments ) that will make game-playing ever more difficult than building in temperate, fertile areas with large open plains and abundant forests.

My suggestion is to play an easier map to learn the mechanics, then increase the difficulty as much as possible to always tip over to the brink of disaster.

“Patron” is not the first city-builder to copy “Banished”. Maybe we should create a new genre category, similar to rogue-like and souls-like. Like an outcast. The early stages of the game are pretty much a 1:1 clone, though it builds on the base game and then offers plenty of unique content.

Overall, I think the game is significantly more complex than “Banished”, though probably about the same difficulty as far as survival goes. I like that “Boss” continues to throw curve balls as the game progresses, in that you have to start catering to the needs of a new class of resident, which will require design tweaks and politics to keep everyone happy – maybe not perfectly happy, but happy enough – just like real life, I guess.

Sharon D. Cole