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12 Patrols - A Solo PnP Game

Review
12 Patrols is a PnP puzzle game created by Scott Allen Czysz with artwork by ArtistIlya Baranovsky. The light 12 cards needs dice and cubes added for the complete game. You will need three different colors for each set of 3 six sided dice and 3 cubes. In my photo I used white, gray, and black.

The light theme places the player as the constable of a kingdom that sends out 12 patrols of knights (dice) and footmen (cubes) to protect all 9 regions. The knights and footman are placed in between cards (there are 12 of these in a 3x3 grid) based on simple rules. Each patrol can have any combination of pieces. If you can satisfy the rules and protect the kingdom - you win the game.

Players start by removing 3 cards from the deck leaving the 9 as a draw deck that will eventually create the kingdom. Roll all 9 dice to set up your knights for the game. Draw three cards from the draw pile and lay them out face up. These are the regions that players can use to begin building their kingdom. Place one card in the kingdom and replenish the face up cards back up to three. At any time a player can place either knight/dice or footman/cubes in between cards to satisfy the rules.

The rules are very simple, but take a bit to wrap your head around. Each card can have one type of three icons on its edge. There is a sheild representing number of colors; There is a bust of a person representing number of pieces; and there is a boxed number representing the dice pips. If the icon is on the left - everything going left must satisfy that icon. This is true of top, right and bottom icons as well. If the edge has no icon - that is a freebie. Outside edges (they are eventually defined by the 3x3 cards) that have icons - those icons get ignored. This rule is part of the stragedy as three cards are excluded for each game and some icons are difficult to satisfy. 

So, if the left icon is a sheild with three colors. This would mean all items to the left must include all the three colors - either in one gap between cards or combined both gaps. If there is a boxed 6 on the left edge - all dice going left must add up to six. If the icon of the bust has 2 icons - then there must be two and only two pieces to the left of that icon. Players have one "out." At any time a die can be rerolled by discading one cube.

It becomes clear very quickly that icons can start to conflict creating unsolvable situations. Players need to watch out for these problems while choosing cards. Since all but three cards are blind at the beginning - early plays must allow for options moving forward. I suspect that while it may always be solveable, early plays do allow players to create unsolvable puzzles once cards are committed. 

The theme of this game makes for pretty cards that frame the game nicely. After that framing - the theme disappears. In fact, I'd say the theme made learning the game a bit confusing. The icon of a bust vs a sheild? It really is number versus color. Once I returned to play a few times - none of that mattered and the colorful cards were very enjoyable. I suspect that the look of the cards could help expert players set up a win more easily.

This game is much like a typical playing card solitare in that early choices can put the player in a no win situation. Place a two bust going up and only have a three bust going up as the only card option to place above it and - YOU LOSE. Interestingly, I did not find this frustrating. I just reset the game and went at it once again. In fact, because a loss is so easy, I tended to play this quickly and enjoy the puzzle along the way. In short, Analysis Paralysis is not very rewarding because of the luck of the draw. I think this is a good attribute of a solitaire game. It encourages many playthroughs.

12 Patrols card files can be found easily and I recommend this game. Twelve cards is easy to make for such a fun little puzzle. The only problem might be that you do need to have dice and cubes that match the needs of the game.

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