While I was writing about my thoughts on Patrician III, Patrician IV and Crusader Kings‘ Republic expansion, I also started one of the Patrician (III, of course, if you’ve read what I wrote) campaigns. This was a 10 year game running from 1305 to 1315 with the goal of simply building up a profitable business.
It’s been more than a year, but I’ve finally completed my game. Thanks to playing it on Steam, I also know that I’ve put in 187 hours of actual game time (although that includes some time spent on a short intro campaign). Amazingly enough, it was still very compelling up until the end and still just as mystifyingly so. Throughout the spring of 1315, I was trying to gather up enough building materials to start a new trading center in Edinburgh, a goal that was taking the better part of a year to come to fruition. Once I decided to build, I first had to make it through the winter shortages. By February or March, I finally could start sending building materials off to Scotland but I had misjudged what would be easy to obtain on the market and what would be tough. It turns out it was wood that was in a short supply, not bricks as I had expected.
One discovery I made about halfway through my adventures was that the game was more enjoyable if I ran an mp3 player application in the background after shutting off the Patrician III game music. I was surprised to find that a few of my favorite songs were enhanced by the clucking of chickens and the barking of dogs.
Also, in the entire 10 years, I fought only 3 battles with pirates. The first time, I was rapidly destroyed. From then on, I auto-resolved all naval battles. Well into the game (maybe a month or so back), a large ship of mine was attacked. It had a couple of cannons and so I bit, fighting a second battle manually. In this case I gave as good as I got, essentially a draw. But when that same ship got attacked again, I lost miserably when I was boarded.
My comments from a year ago on the naval warfare portion of this game remain the same; it is by far the weakest part of this game. However, in the strategic interface, you have the option to not fight, in which case your ship takes some damage and loses some portion of its cargo. Most of the time the loss is not too bad and is well worth the savings in time a wrist fatigue. It also seemed that the more I played, ignoring the battles, the less frequently the battles happened. I don’t know if this is because the “opponents” in my game were actually clearing the seas of piracy without me or if there is something in the game that adapts to player preferences. Either way, I was much happier once the pirates were no longer a factor.
One more comment, either for anyone out there thinking of playing this game or for a future me who comes back to it after a long break. Early on, I decided that I really did need to fight those pirates because I was losing critical cargoes. I had purchased some weaponry and tried to outfit my ships, but I just couldn’t manage to do it. After investing way too much time in trying to figure it out (going to a PDF manual can’t be done while also playing the game and, once I’d given up for the night, it just didn’t seem worth going back to look it up), I moved to the method of just always auto-resolving the encounters (and losing). Finally, a month or two ago, I stumbled across the answer. As I stated in my first article, the ships, once built, can also be upgraded. One of those upgrades is reinforcing the decks to allow for weapons platforms. Doing so is a prerequisite to carrying cannons or catapults for the ships defense.
The more you know.