The Patrician logo

Here's a brief history résumé for those of you who are not au fait with 14th century Europe. The Patrician is set in said period and you play the part of a struggling merchant. It was so different in those days - the continent was in constant state of change. The Hanseatic League - a sort of equivalent to the common market - governed European trading and its aim was to promote free trade between all the main cities. What a long way we've come in 600 years, eh?

The League's council was made up of all the mayors of the major parts in Europe and was led by the Alderman. Although you start the game as a minor League merchant, your ultimate aim is to rise to the heady height of Alderman.

To achieve this you have to trade first and make stacks of cash, which you can then spend on furthering your political career - money buys power - unlike today's democracies, Asil Nadir is living proof of that. Not only do you have to be loaded but you have to be happily married, otherwise people don't vote for you (as David Mellor will no doubt agree come 1994).

Enough politics - on with the gameplay. At the start you own just one ship and a couple of hundred Thala (currency). The way to increasing your readies is by trading which involves buying and selling (at a profit) the many types of goods available.

This presents your first obstacle - trading is not easy initially and can often result in you drifting aimlessly from port to port unable to find a favourable price for a commodity you've got on your ship. If you get stuck with goods it is possible to store them in a warehouse for later resale. Of course, if you're very clever you could buy corn in the summer when it's plentiful and cheap and make a killing in a winter market place.

Loan shark
So the main problem during the early stages of your trading life is money, or lack of it. It can be incredibly frustating to see a commodity such as wine or pepper at comparatively low prices and not being able to afford them. But this can be alleviated by judicious use of your limited funds and by trading cheaper items.

Or alternatively, you can acquire a healthy cash flow by doing a deal with the Money Lender. This guy will organise loans, usually at exorbitant rates of interest, which can be repaid as and when you get enough money. But if you go over the repayment deadline, creditors, will come snapping at your heels like a pack of voracious pitbulls. And if you haven't got the money they want, then it's bon voyage to one of your ships, which can be catastrophic if you only have a single vessel.

Fortunately, new ships can be built for you at any port of call. The ships available range from the small but speedy pinnace, to the heavy and wallowing galleons. Which one you choose will depend on how big your load is and how quickly you need to shift it. Constant use of your ships obviously takes its toll and ships get damaged, and your journeys take longer to complete. Repairs are easy if you have enough Thala, but if you neglect them then your vessels will flounder ina storm, or sink with a full cargo and crew aboard, which as well as being terribly sad, is economically unsound.

Boozing boss
Hiring and firing crew and helpers is done in the local watering hole, and this is done by clicking on the various people inside. Click on the drunks being dragged out of the pub to press-gang a crew at one Thala per employee, or if you want to maintain business at home click on the guys sitting quietly at the back and these will act as helpers at your warehouses.

The hard looking blokes at the frong are your ordinary everyday dodgy arms dealers, whose services you need, because of the danger that lurks on many trade routes. The high seas are not a safe place to be - pirates, storms and even sea monsters can obstruct your route to fortune and fame.

Even bad weather, the captain getting seasick, or even green toadstools growing in the galley can change your plotted course, or force the ship to find land, or worse turn about. When such incidents strike they can really screw up your planned trade route, dumping you somewhere you don't want to be. If you're particularly unlucky pirates attack your ship and you have to fight them off with weapons onboard. This fighting sequence is optional with the computer working out the outcome if you do not participate. If you lose, then another ship vanishes from your fleet at a time when your fleet should be growing.

Slide into the tub
Once you've amassed your fortune though, it's time to put the money to use on self advancement in the political arena, and hopefully becoming Alderman of the Hanseatic League. To achieve high political status you have to become popular enough to gain the confidence of the rest of the Hanseatic Council.

You can gain popularity in your home town in several ways. The first and easiest way is to throw a massive party for all the plebs. The only downer is the cost, but political popularity doesn't come cheap. It is vital to provide enough food and drink, otherwise the townsfolk go home hungry and distinctly sober; get them absolutely inebriated and they'll think you'll make a great politician!

So what exactly do you have to do if you need to regain vital votes? Well you can always bribe your peers. This is done at the local bathing house. Just slide into the tub next to them, and if you have enough money then they will arrange for you to get a few extra votes in the next election.

But it's not as simple as that, bribery can lead to you being blackmailed and you either have to have a regular direct debit to your blackmailer, or you will be reported to the appropriate authorities. This will result in a trial where you can be fined or if you're lucky and not found guilty, you will be compensated.

Control of the game is easy. It is entirely mouse based and involves no icons. You just use the left button to select something on screen and the right button for returning to the previous screen. This makes for a totally intuitive system so that all of your concentration can be directed at actually playing the game and not struggling with studying the instructions in the manual.

The Patrician will absorb your attention until the wee small hours as you become engrossed in the intricacies of the game's wheeling and dealing and you will find keeping your political head above water almost as difficult as keeping dry in Mississippi.

Playing it will keep even the most die-hard platform freaks among us glued to their machine, yelling out loudly with frustration at the high price of corn in medieval Hamburg! Just like you do!

The Patrician: Office
  1. The piece of paper on the wall to the left of the map lists your debts and which town your creditors are based in.
  2. The Window: clicking on this takes you back outside to the seafront.
  3. The Little Book you all your personal details. Marital status, amount of money in your office and on board your ships. Tells you which ports your ships aer docked at, number of people employed by you and property owned.
  4. The Big Book: where you do all your buying and selling of goods. It is the baic trading mechanism.
  5. The Big Map brings up the map screen where you decide on the direction of your ships.
  6. The Quill Holder: this brings up a page giving game options. These include save, quit and the choice to play the arcade sequence.
  7. The Telescope tells you about the town you are currently gracing with your presence. Things like population and name of the present mayor aer shown.

Der Patrizier logo Amiga Joker Hit

Es ist nicht so lange her, da war Holger Flöttmann noch Geschäftsführer bei Thalion, dann gründete er Ascon, seine eigene Spielefabrik. Und gleich die erste Eigenproduktion ist ein Hammer - so und nicht anders muß eine Handelssimulation aussehen!

Angesiedelt ist das Game zur Blütezeit der Hanse, in jenen Tage also, als der Kaufmann noch ein echter Abenteurer war: Berührungsängste mit Piraten waren da fehl am Platz, alle Welt war bestechlich, und nur wer etwas wagte, konnte den Weg nach oben schaffen! Der Weg des Testers beginnt ganz bescheiden mit dem grundsätzlichen Konzept...

Bis zu vier Mitspieler übernehmen die Rolle von Kaufleuten, deren oberstes Ziel darin besteht, es eines Tages zum "Ältermann" der Hanse (quasi der Vereinszvorsitzende) zu bringen. Bis dahin vertreiben sie sich die Zeit mit Handel & Wandel sowie dem Streben nach dem Bürgermeisterposten ihres Städtchens.

Insgesamt gibt es 17 Ortschaften, stramme acht davon zählen zum erlauchten Kreis der Hansestädte, und (nur) in diesen darf man sein Domizil errichten. In den größeren bzw. reicheren wie Hamburg und Bremen bekommt man es mit mehr menschlicher und/oder digitaler Konkurrenz zu tun, daher sind die Startbedingungen hier anders als in den kleineren wie Riga oder Visby. Sobald der Niederlassungsort, das Familienwappen, Name, Geschlecht etc. feststehen, geht's fein säuberlich nach Runden geordnet ans dicke Geldscheffeln, entweder im Übungsmodus oder gleich richtig.

Wer ab jetzt immer bloß nach der Gewinnspanne lugt, mach bald mit den recht gewieften Programmroutine Bekanntschaft: So läßt sich zwar mit Luxusgütern wie etwa feinen Tuchwaren sehr viel Geld verdienen, aber irgendwann ist der Markt gesättigt, die Lager sind voll - und der Handelsherr geht pleite. Das Spiel berücksichtigt also die unerbittlichen Gesetze der freien Marktwirtschaft, und der Spieler sollte das ebenfalls tun.

Außerdem werden die (wahlberechtigten!) Bürger sauer, wenn man sie mit Samt und Seide zuschüttet, aber Getreide- und Salzhandel darniederliegen. Hohes Ansehen hat aber noch keinem geschadet, und wer öfters mal eine Spende abdrückt oder Straßenfeten schmeißt, muß einfach ein guter Mensch sein! Dabei wird sogar zwischen christlichen Festen unterschieden, die eher der Obrigkeit gefallen, und richtig wilden, bei denen der "Pöbel" tobt.

Auch darf man bei der Organisation nicht vergessen, die nötigen Eß- und Trinkwaren in ausreichender Menge zu beschaffen, sonst wird die Geschichte ein Flop!

Dasselbe gilt für alle anderen Bereiche, etwa den Schiffsbau: Sämtliche Materialien müssen besorgt werden, später darf man sich dann um Mannschaft, Aufträge und Reparaturen kümmern.

Aber bevor wir uns jetzt in lauter Einzelheiten verzetteln, lieber noch ein paar Worte zum prinzipiellen Aufbau: Das Hauptmenü in den Ortschaften (gereist wird auf einer scrollenden Karte) besteht aus einer Stadtsilhouette mit anklickbaren Gebäuden.

So stellt die Werft logischerweise die Werft dar, das Kontor enthält die Geschäftsbücher, im darüberliegenden Lager findet man seine Warenbestände aufgelistet, und in der Kneipe lungern arbeitslose Seeleute und Piraten herum. Die Freibeuter lassen sich auch prima für die eigenen Zwecke einspannen, sollte die Öffentlichkeit davon jedoch Wind bekommen, ist das nicht gerade zuträglich für das politische Image.

Desweiteren gibt es das Gilde-Haus (Schiffchen verkaufen, Handel treiben etc. etc.), Waffenschmieden, die mit fortschreitender Spieldauer immer modernere Kriegsgeräte feilbieten, und den Geldverleiher, der einem je nach Ansehen unterschiedliche Zinssätze auf Auge drückt - aber vielleicht wollt Ihr Euch auch mal selbst in diesem einträglichen Job versuchen?

Soweit zum rein wirtschaftlichen Teil; wenn man durch einen kleinen Durchgang zum Marktplatz schreitet, betritt man damit gewissermaßen die Bühne des gesellschaftlichen und politischen Lebens. Volksbefragungen über die eigene Popularität, Besuche im Badehose (heute würde man wohl eher Bordell sagen...) zum Ratsherrn-Bestechen, all das und noch viel mehr findet hier statt.

Nichtzuletzt das Rathaus wird man wohl des öfteren aufsuchen, denn das ist der Ort, wo Politik gemach wird - vor allem der Flottenaufbau und die Bekämpfung von Feinden, wie Piraten oder Waldemar den Dänenkönig sind hier die ganz heißen Eisen.

Was gibt's noch? Unheimlich viel! Man darf heiraten, bekommt es mit der Pest und Feuersbrünsten zu tun, kann an Versteigerungen und muß gelegentlich an Gerichtsverhandlungen teilnehmen. Ja, wird eins der eigenen Schiffe angegriffen, darf man sogar in einer kleinen Action-Sequenz selbst die Kanonen bedienen. Hin und wieder begegnet man auch Madonna und Didi Hallervorden.

Nein, das war kein Witz, einige der auftretenden Personen haben tatsächlich eine verblüffende Ähnlichkeit mit bekannten Medienstars.

Abgesehen von derlei komischen Einlagen beeindruckt Der Patrizier durch seine liebevolle Hingabe zu historisch verbürgten Details und die Komplexität des Gameplays; wir haben es hier tatsächlich mit einer ausgefuchsten Mischung aus Handels-, Polit- und Sozio-Simulation zu tun. Nicht zu vergessen die absolut neuzeitliche Präsentation mit stimmungsvoller Musik, Möwengekreish, Stimmengemurmel und den prachtvoll gezeichneten und zum Teil animierten Grafiken.

Beispielsweise sieht jede einzelne der 17 Städte ein bißchen anders aus, und die Datenblätter der diversen Schiffsmodelle sind wirklich ein optischer Genuß. Über die Maussteuerung läßt sich nicht viel sagen, sie klappt halt problemlos. Kurz und gut, hier stimmen nicht nur Konto und Kontore - diese Scheibe ist ein Hit! (C. Borgmeier)

The Patrician logo

You don't have to be German to enjoy this trade sim. Do you?

The Hanseatic League was a merchants' co-operative covering northern Europe, Scandinavia and the Slavonic nations during the 13th and 14th Centuries, providing a monopoly for German traders on the transport of goods between east and west. As well as makings its members very rich, it provided the framework for a new style of European politics, ending the dominance of the Church and the monarchy, shifting the emphasis to democracy and equality, and indirectly triggering the Renaissance and a new revolutionary era.

In return for their subscriptions, members of the League could take advantage of complex trade agreements between many nations. They received protection for the ships, often through the organising of convoys to counter the threat from piracy. And, in addition, they had the opportunity to take political office, offering both power and prestige.

I know all this, not through choice, but because The Patrician's 120-page manual carries a hair-raisingly detailed history of the Hanseatic League by way of background information. You see, YOU ARE a budding member of the League, trying to make a splash in the cut-throat world of medieval trading. (No , really - you are).

By controlling a fleet of merchant ships, sailing them from port to port, loading and unloading their cargoes, keeping them 'shipshape', and fighting off pirates, you've got to amass as much dosh as possible. And by manipulating popular opinion, getting in with the right company, marrying into money, and helping out your home town when it's in trouble, you've got to try to rise to the heady office of Mayor, and then, ultimately, Alderman of the League.

To put it kindly, it's a specialised taste

By now you've probably reached one of two conclusions: either: (a) I really am the least engaging reviewer you've ever had the displeasure of reading, and I'm jolly lucky you're still here, or (b) The Patrician is, to put it kindly, a 'specialised taste'.

In the case of the former I'd plead extenuating circumstances, but of the latter there can be no argument. The Patrician is a game aimed exclusively at those with an interest, or a potential interest, in 14th Century European politics. Anyone else can go boil their heads as far as it's concerned.

The graphics might be quite attractive, and those pictures do feature some quite intricate animation - little people dancing about, smoke coming out of chimneys, that kind of thing. But they're pictures of the annoying 'click on the little man standing next to the ship to give you a damage report' variety, and quickly become a tiresome way of navigating around the game, particularly when you consider that it's 14th Century history you're ostensibly interested in, not pretty graphics.

You could view it as a straightforward strategy trading game, with the added 'bonus' of a detailed historical background - a bit like Elite without the flying-around bits (or that infuriating rolling-through-90-degrees-just-to-turn-a-tiny-bit-to-one-side business).

But the actual guts of the game seem a little thin if you look beneath the surface, and the rewards don't really justify all the mucking about with numbers and things. I remember having much more fun with a game called Pirates by Microprose. Just like The Patrician, it had you sailing around the high seas trading goods, fighting off pirates and getting married. But, while it lacked authentic detail, you actually got to see your ships sailing about, and it all seemed much more exciting.

No, this is a game for the two, maybe three, AMIGA POWER readers with a fondness for medieval European politics. They'll love it. I didn't.

The Patrician logo CU Amiga Screen Star

A life on the ocean waves, buying low, selling high and climbing the ranks of power. It's all in a day's work for Tony Dillon.

The Patrician has to be the Europe-wide surprise hit of 1993. This game has dominated the German charts for longer than anyone can remember, and judging by the response Daze Marketing have received after last month's exclusive playable demo (featured on CU Amiga Coverdisk 61, July 1993), it's set to repeat that same success in the UK. Who would have thought that a strategic trading game would have done so well?

Just in case you aren't familiar with this particular phase of history, The Patrician is set at a time of great change in Europe. The Renaissance is on its way, and all over this great continent traders are calling for some kind of agreement - a union almost - to ensure the safety and livelihood of those who carry cargo from port to port. It's at times such as this that great ideas are born, and in this period the Hanseatic league was created. In essence it worked as the predecessor to the European community. Mayors from the main towns would oversee the running of their ports and would answer in turn to the Alderman of the league, otherwise known as The Patrician.

If you didn't play the demo, you might be wondering what your role in all of this is. In short, you are a simple trader with designs on fame and fortune - well, fortune anyway.

Starting the game with a single boat and 200 Thaler to your name, you have to complete a number of tasks. Firstly, you have to become incredibly wealthy through shrewd and cunning dealing. Secondly, you need to get married. Thirdly, you must rise in public opinion to the point where you are elected Mayor of your home town. Finally you must rise even further and become The Patrician him/herself. And once you've reached the top, you'll probably find that it isn't too easy to stay there.

The first thing you'll need to come to grips with, however, is money. Thaler, the currency of the league, isn't the easiest thing to get your hands on. The safest way to get it is to trade, and with around 40 commodities to barter with, some solid logic is needed. The position of the port and the time of year both play strong parts in the pricing of goods. Corn in summertime is plentiful in most ports, and therefore very cheap indeed. So, buying a large amount and then waiting until winter, when supplies are low, will guarantee you a good return on your investment.

People will always pay high prices for spices and pepper, so when the spice ship arrives, you'd better get down to its port of call as quick as you can. Get there first and you're guaranteed a small fortune.

What if you can't get the money together to make the investment? Then it's time to borrow. At the time, though, the banks were run by the church, and borrowing money was seen to be a great sin.

So, the only way that you can possibly borrow any cash is to seek a private investor who, at the start anyway, will only offer you small amounts of money over very short periods of time and at over 40 percent interest. Don't worry, though. Things do get better.

This is the part of the game where you begin to learn about power. There are two types to wield, and to get anywhere in this game you'll need to have both. There's political power and there's people power.

People power is that small factor that counts the number of people who will vote for you in elections. Gain the trust of the people, and you can start to attain political power. Once you have both, things get a little easier for a while. For a start, wealthier businessmen will want to deal with you, offering you larger and larger sums of money, over much longer periods for much less interest. Now you'll begin to see the whole game intertwines with itself to create one of the most realistic and thought provoking strategy titles yet seen on the Amiga.

Of course, all that power does have its downside and, Like I said, borrowing money is illegal. So is bribing a council official to give you a leg up the ladder, or leak important information to you. In fact, this game lets you do a hell of a lot that isn't actually allowed. This is purely to drop you in it later in the game. Picture the scene. There you are. Mayor of your own town and adored by your citizens.

All of a sudden you receive a letter from a trader who has never reached your lofty heights, threatening to expose all concerning you and certain borrowings that happened early on in your career unless you pay a lump sum each month into a Swiss bank account. Do you try to call their bluff or do you pay? The tension ups yet another notch.

You can no doubt tell what a superbly designed game this is, and so it should be after 18 months of hard work. What's really nice is that the same attention to detail and perfection has been carried over into the presentation. You can see from the screenshots on these pages what a gorgeous looking game it is, but they can't tell you how well it plays. Controlled entirely from the mouse, The Patrician uses a combination of static screens and control panels to handle everything from having a bath to borrowing beyond your means. If you want to go to your office from the town square, you click on the window to enter. If you want to leave again, you click with the right mouse button.

And that's really all there is to it - there are no messy menus, no masses of key control. This is a game that leaves your concentration alone. You can focus on your next move without reading through the manual to find out which key to do it with.

This has to be the single most involving strategy game since Elite. There's just so much to do that you could never play the same game twice, and seeing it pay off merits the purchase by itself. Unbelievably good stuff.


At the moment, The Patrician is compatible with all Amigas. In the near future, however, an A1200 only version will appear with all the 256-colour images of the stunning looking PC version. The game will remain exactly the same in all other respects.


It might seem like a small thing, but marriage is something taken very seriously by the people in Europe. Basically, there's no way that they will elect a mayor who has never married, so one of the things you should keep a constant look out for is a companion for life. The way to find one is, when the time feels right for you, to hire a marriage broker.
Generally they will offer you two types of partner./ The first will always be a Marilyn Monroe/Clark Gable lookalike, with little money but bags of appeal. Or, you can wait for an aging widow with pots of cash and little life left. Which should you choose? I don't know, just how mercenary are you feeling?


It's not all thinking, you know. Pirates were rife at the time, and that's not too surprising when you consider how much cargo was passing between the towns. As a result, one of the first things you'll need to spend money on are some decent armor for your ship. After all, you never know when a pirate is likely to strike, but when they do, it's bloody. What you have is a full arcade sequence, controlled by the mouse, in which you have to load, aim and fire cannons at the approaching ship before they can do the same to you.
Thankfully it doesn't happen too often. You can switch off the arcade sequences and leave the end result for the computer to work out, but it can be a nice break from all that thinking!