The Taxman Cometh: Patrician IV

Screengrabbing the website = investigative journalism

Patrician II was one of the earliest game reviews I ever wrote (the first was something called Stunt GP), and the first one that anyone ever told me was any good. It was a game about old-world tax and trading, ambient and cheerful but definitely on the boring side – and it was the moment in which I thought “yes, I am a games journalist.” I distinctly remember that Bruges wanted to buy an awful lot of coats, but not a lot else. I don’t have a copy of that review anywhere, because I’m hopeless at filing and backups, but as I’m sure that nine-year-old piece of writing is probably awful in the harsh light of 2010, this is probably for the best. Now we have Patrician IV, and it sounds like the same deal – Elite in the middle ages, without any of the shooty-bang-bang. It is German. Oh boy, is it German.

It’s nominally coming from a different dev to the earlier Patricians – new studio Gaming Minds. Turns out many of their number hail from the late Ascaron, who disappeared in a stormcloud of financial turmoil not long after releasing Sacred 2. Publisher Kalypso snapped up their IPs and 15 of their staff, and so we have Patrician IV. Here’s the teaser trailer, which is absolutely laughable in how little it gives away. Oh, a boat. And a sunset. Sign me up for 14 pre-orders right away! Marketing.

The trailer may be lousy, but I shan’t be surprised if I find myself gravitating towards the game at some point. Sure, if it’s anything like its predecessors (which it surely will be), it’s going to be very heavy on the numbers, but that kind of no-pressure wandering around a pretty place is exactly the kind of thing I yearn for when I’m hungover or ill. A bit of a backhanded compliment, perhaps, but there’s certainly something to be said for games which relax rather than adrenalise our fragile human minds.

Here are the official descriptofacts:

In Patrician IV the player takes on the role of a young merchant in the area of the Baltic and North Sea during the late Middle Age, the zenith of the Hanseatic League and its naval trading empire.

Starting from meagre beginnings as a small stall trader, players must use every skill at their disposal to rise through the merchant ranks and become the most powerful merchant in Europe. The authentic supply and demand-based trading system allows players to grow their business and head out to the high seas to form trading routes with other Hanseatic cities negotiating better prices for the buying and selling of goods.

I like the world ‘hanseatic.’

58 Comments

  1. Torgen says:

    Sometime one wishes to build instead of bash. I look forward to the RPS verdict, since I won’t be buying Settlers 7 due to Ubi DRM.

    • Wulf says:

      Same.

      Colour me cautiously optimistic about this, I could use a good city builder.

    • stahlwerk says:

      Having played Patrician 1 back in the day, I’d bet that, with the notable exception of ships, there is no building anything involved.

      Bath houses, corruption and blackmail… oh how german indeed.

    • Hmm says:

      Ignoring a good game because of the necessity to be online is bizzare in my opinion, considering DRM can be removed.
      That’s like boycotting Valve games because they force you to activate the copy and create a Steam account. I don’t like Steam personally – because I can’t EVER count on a patch removing Steam DRM – but I’m not going to behave like a spoiled child yelling “BOYCOTT!!! DRM!!! DRM!!! EVIL!!! HULK SMASH!!!”.

    • Torgen says:

      @Hmm:

      Overreact much?

      Also, Steam is in no way as onerous as the Ubi DRM. EA is using the same style DRM on C&C4 and have their own online PR spokesman saying it’s unbearable.

    • Hmm says:

      I wasn’t talking about you, just the general attitude here. I meant no offence. Ubi’s DRM is completely invisible compared to Steam and no, EA’s DRM is not the same.
      EA’s system kicks you out of the game back to main menu the moment a disconnection occurs, Ubi’s system allows you to play, tries to re-connect for like 10-15 seconds in the background without you knowing, if it fails – then displays an error message, which disappears the moment you’re back online, allowing you to continue playing from the exact same point, as if nothing happened.

      The necessity to be online is a downside, I admit, but even with my crappy connection which tends to disconnect for like second or two every couple of hours, I almost forget DRM is there. And it can be removed with a patch, which is something I can’t say about Steam. I am forced to rely on Valve’s servers even during the installation process – Ubi’s DRM allows me to at least install offline.

    • the wiseass says:

      Hmm says: “Ubi’s system allows you to play, tries to re-connect for like 10-15 seconds in the background without you knowing, if it fails – then displays an error message, which disappears the moment you’re back online…”
      ——————
      Yeah, that sure is “completely invisible”…

    • bill says:

      Hmmm’s efforts to derail every thread and make them all about his hatred of steam continue.
      As usual i’m confused. By “patch to remove the DRM” do you mean official or unofficial? Because i’m pretty sure there are plenty of unofficial ones to remove the MUCH LESS RESTRICTIVE and MUCH LESS INTRUSIVE drm on steam.

    • Kryopsis says:

      @Hmm,
      Yes, sure, let’s forcefully impose our opinions on other people and throw in a few ad hominem arguments. I am sure this will greatly help us to get our point across…
      How the hell not buying something is comparable to acting like a spoiled child, that’s what I’d like to know.

  2. Mr Gray says:

    Stunt GP

    “Doctor, your 3.30 is here – shall I have him wait on the far side of the ravine, or will you see him as you dangle from a helicopter to check out young Tom’s tonsils?”
    “There’s no time for that now, nurse! I have to take Mrs Smith to hospital in the ambulance – but the quickest route is via the local skate park, and she’s about to give birth at any moment!”

    • AndrewC says:

      “Doctor, would you mind awfully not attempting the pogoing world record while inspecting my colon?”

    • Eoin says:

      That sounds like a fantastic game…

      Performing an appendectomy while skiing down a black slope. Extra points for all jumps.

    • Bhazor says:

      If it had a playable Ben Goldacre I would preorder it right now.

    • MWoody says:

      For us Americans: GP = General Practitioner = Family Doctor

  3. GibletHead2000 says:

    I enjoyed the earlier Settlers, so I’ll be taking a look a this. I have a soft spot for German economic games. (Settlers 2 and X3 are two of my faves, and both very much enjoyed when feeling under the weather in some way.)

  4. Ragnar says:

    The earlier Patrician-games never really hooked me, even though they have concept that I like. I’ll definitely look out for this one.

  5. Mr Labbes says:

    I played the demo of Stunt GP for ages, and only recently I got the full game, which is not as good as one would expect from the demo. Or maybe it’s nostalgia.

    Also, hurray for more Patrician. Didn’t know there was a third one, but I played the second one for quite some time, although I totally sucked because I was ten when I played it and I always bought too many cannons. Good times.

  6. Hppo says:

    The Patrician is actually quite splendid. It’s one of my favourite games from the Amiga era, and it’s wonderfully deep while also quite easy to play. And it’s really good fun in multiplayer (hotseat style).

    I’m looking forward to this one, though I’m worried by the fact that they aren’t mentioning multiplayer at all.

  7. Snall says:

    I still have Pac 2 or 3 from a pirate/trading pack I bought a while ago, still have it installed and play it now and then.

  8. Skinlo says:

    What did you think of Stunt GP?

    I personally quite enjoyed it when I was 13, despite it being a bad game.

  9. HexagonalBolts says:

    I really hope ‘Stunt GP’ wasn’t ‘Stunt General Practitioner’ – I can’t imagine anything more gruesome

  10. CogDissident says:

    I bought settlers 7, and honestly wish I hadn’t the moment the DRM nonsense came up and started annoying me with its always-on-ness. Also, unlocking items through achievement points you get from playing assassin’s creed 2 is a really stupid system.

  11. Bhazor says:

    So its not a Lord Vetinari sim then?
    Blast!

    • riadsala says:

      “So its not a Lord Vetinari sim then?”

      Oooh. I’d play that :) Surely it’s about time for another game set on the Discworld? With the right voice acting, it would make a great change from usual fantasy settings.

    • bill says:

      Have you tried The Guild? It’s on GOG.
      It’s not quite a vetinari sim, but it can get close.

      More discworld games are definitely needed.

  12. Sobric says:

    @riadsala

    Open world, adventure-RPG set on the Disc! That’s one of my dream games for someone else to create for me!

    • riadsala says:

      :) It would be amazing wouldn’t it. Journeying from the stench of Ankh-Morpork all the way to the rim….

      Just as long as Bethesda don’t make it (I enjoyed Oblivion, but it lacks the charm needed for a Discworld game)

  13. Torgen says:

    Just a note: Good Old Games has Patrician 1 & 2 bundled for a pittance, with no DRM and updated to run on modern machines: link to gog.com

    • Malibu Stacey says:

      Oh I hate you. I played Patrician 1 on the Amiga until I passed out from being too tired. Which was fine when I was 12 but 18 years on life is a little bit more demanding of my time.

      Must resist GoG. Repeat “it’s not on Steam so I’m not buying it”, that will make everything OK.

      Oh bugger I just noticed I can get Commandos 1, 2, 3, Tropico 1 & 2 & Patrician 1 & 2 for $22 or $25 with 3 other games. And they have Gobliiins. And Another World. And Cannon Fodder. And Simon the Sorceror.

    • Ozzie says:

      Patrician III (or Patrician II + Addon, however you want to see it…) is one of my favorite games of all times. Ironically, this is one of the reasons why I so rarely play it. I alway fear I become addicted for weeks again.
      Before I played it the first time I didn’t thought I could’ve fun with it. The whole genre of economic simulations didn’t seem appealing to me. But Patrician II and later III showed me that it can be very fun when done right!
      It’s much more straightforward and accessible than you might suspect. The game offers good tutorials and a great beginner campaign. It’s a good example of how to make a game accessible without dumbing it down.
      Sadly, Ascaron couldn’t resist the temptation of dumbing down, and in an effort to pronounce the action they simplified the trading in the Portal Royal series. Additionally, the quest design was very bad, making the first part a sub-par game. Never played the second.

      I hope Patrician IV will be good and worth its title. It’s a series that deserves a worthy followup. Well, with Tropico 3 Kalypso showed that it’s able to continue a franchise in a proper way, let’s hope it happens again with Patrician IV!

  14. Hmm says:

    Please be great! Here’s hoping the old-new team delivers.

  15. Vinraith says:

    I still have Patrician 3 on disc somewhere around here, and I’ve still barely played it. I can’t figure out whether I don’t like it (which would be odd, I generally love economic sims) or whether I’ve just never tried to play it in the right mood or something. Series veterans: I note that Patrician 2 is cheap on GOG this weekend, is there any reason to look at the earlier iterations if I have 3? Is there something “wrong” with 3 that I could pin my malaise on?

    • Oak says:

      I can’t speak for the original, but Patrician 3 is just Patrician 2 re-released with its expansion.

      If you can find the disc (or are willing to spend the money) it’s definitely worth another crack, so long as you give it a healthy amount of time to get rolling.

    • Vinraith says:

      @Oak

      Thanks, I’ll take another shot at it.

  16. Pijama says:

    German citybuilders are just an educational tool to form administrators, or prepare you into learning mechanical engineering. =D

    • K. says:

      It is always nice to have a common chat theme at the tax office.

  17. westyfield says:

    “I like the world ‘hanseatic.’ ”

    I totally learnt that word from ‘The Saga of Seven Suns’. It is a nice word indeed.

    • Tiktaalik says:

      I’ve only read the first volume of that series. Truly some of the worst writing I have ever had the misfortune to read. Does it get better?

    • snv says:

      The story gets rather interesting

  18. Severian says:

    Question: any significant differences between Patrician series and Anno? I am currently playing Dawn of Discovery (and enjoying it, even if it is one of the biggest time-sinks ever), and am wondering whether these respective series basically compete over the same niche.

    • Chris D says:

      Having played Patrician 3 and Anno 17whatever from what I can tell Patrician is mostly trading with some building and Anno is mostly building with some trading, so go for whichever interests you most I guess.

    • Vinraith says:

      @Severian

      Essentially what Chris said. Patrician is focused on economics and trading, with a little city building in support of that. Anno (as you’ve seen) is all about city building, with some light economics/trading in support of that. It may sound subtle, but it’s a pretty dramatic difference in practice. The various Patricians (and their western hemisphere cousins, the Port Royale series) have demos floating around the internet, still. Have a look at one and I think it’ll make the point more clearly than anyone can on a message board.

  19. Rikard Peterson says:

    Hanseatic cities? If that includes Visby, that’d almost be enough to get me interested. (I think that’d make it the first game that includes my old home town.)

    • Chris D says:

      Visby is definitely in Patrician 3, I guess it’ll probably be in 4 too.

    • Hippo says:

      Visby has been in all the Patrician-games so far. And it’s a great city to be based in, because it’s in such a central location. No, seriously. Whoever controls Visby controls the Baltic Sea. Kind of.

      Luebeck is still the best, though.

  20. Redd says:

    How does Patrician compare to the ‘The Guild’ series? The last couple of instalments of those were excellent imo (Pirates/Venice)… and this sounds very similar, although more limited in the paths you can take.

    • sinister agent says:

      The Guild is more about the people you hire and “be”, and making small numbers of specific things in one place. The Patrician is more macro, for lack of a better word. You don’t have to hire or fire anyone (aside from generic boat captains and crew), and it’s not about people so much as finding bargains and making effective trade routes between cities/continents. There’s enough of a difference to make them both worth playing, I think, especially given how cheap they are now, but also enough of a crossover to make it likely that fans of one will at least somewhat enjoy the other.

  21. Heliocentric says:

    I played #1 of this series on my 1mb amiga! It was rubbish. This is all.

  22. Oak says:

    Well, I’m excited.

  23. Jakkar says:

    For those who find the lazy pace appealing – consider Tropico 3. Same feel, but achieved very intentionally, with good style, beautiful visuals and humour.

  24. Flimgoblin says:

    Managed to lose a good few days of my life to Patrician 3… may stay away from this one just incase it drags me in :)

  25. Railick says:

    Stalwerk, If you played Patrician 3 you’d know there is a lot of building. You can build all sorts of buildings from wells to lumber camps ect trying to produce goods to sell and improve the status of the cities you trade in. I still have a copy of Patrician 3 installed in my PC with a huge number of saves that I play every day :P

  26. Railick says:

    I’ve had Patricia 3 since it came out and play it a hell of a lot. This kind of excites me but I don’t know if it will replace the game I know and love. To answer some peoples questions it is a lot like the Guild but not so much like Anno. It is like the guild on a grander scale and yes it does involve a lot of building.

    It allows you to start from the scale of a single ship trading other peoples goods to totally controlling the production of several goods, being the leader of the entire leauge, and being tasked with defending your cities from pirate and crazy armies run by errant Princes from the main land. Those who say there is no pew pew would also be wrong as Patrician 3 contains naval combat on par with the Pirates series. You can become a pirate yourself or you can fund other people to be pirates (if you get caught it looks very bad lol, worse if you’re the pirate yourself) Also you can allow people to join your large warships with lots of guns to protect them and get paid for it (or join other peoples trade convoys.

    ontop of that there is also an exploration aspect that allows you to trade with other areas like the new world and parts of the med sea but you have to actually discover these areas to trade with them. If this is as good as 3 I will be very excited but if it doesn’t offer anything new then I don’t see any reason to stop playing 3 (pretty graphics don’t generally convince me to play something)

  27. Xitax says:

    Imagine that! A game that you buy “allowing” us to do things! Oh, the novelty.

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  29. Senuseret says:

    I think im gonna need to buy Patrician Iv to play it …
    about Patrician III the best town is definitly Cologne for the year 1300

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