Introducing Pastiche

Mensa Select winner

The first release

It's been almost a full year since the wonderful family game Pastiche first appeared, after being released in early 2011. I posted a very positive review of the game at the time, suggesting that it had the right mix of ingredients to be a successful gateway game, and had potential to get nominated for gaming industry awards. The theme is appealing, the components are sensational, and the gameplay offers intriguing mechanics and interesting gameplay that make it ideal as a family game and accessible as a gateway for non-gamers. I still stand by that assessment, and since that time Pastiche has gone on to be one of the deserving winners of the 2011 Mensa Select award. This recognition can only be good news for the continued success of this game, and its reputation is going to be further bolstered now that it has been released in a new and improved international edition.


Comparing editions

The new International Edition

This international edition is a brand new release for 2012, and don't think that this just means that the game is appearing in a different language. The international edition promises much more than that! Since the game was released nearly a year ago, the publisher has continued to work hard on finding ways to further improve the quality of the game, with the benefit of suggestions from gamers around the world, taking on board ideas to make it the very best it could be. Not that there was anything wrong with the original edition per se, but in their commitment to continued excellence, Gryphon Games has pulled out all stops to produce an edition of the game that is truly beautiful and matched by quality in every respect possible. That edition is the international edition that is now available, so if you don't yet own the game there couldn't be a better time to find out whether Pastiche is right for you.

I'm not going to be covering all the nitty gritty about game play in this review, because I've covered that more than adequately in my earlier review of the game, and because the game-play itself is essentially unchanged. Head to that review if you want to learn more about the game-play. In today's review I'm just going to concentrate on showing you what the international edition looks like, and what changes have been made from the original edition of the game.


Sample spread of components from the International edition

Game box

The game box is even larger (15mm deeper) and more hefty than the original - and that can only be a sign of even better things in store inside! Don't miss the shiny and embossed "Mensa Select" winner stamp that's proudly displayed on the front cover!


The Pastiche box cover

The back of the box showcases the game and its components as well as introducing the theme.


Reverse of the game box

On the bottom left you'll see an indication of which rules are included. Depending on where you purchased the game, these will be English, Dutch, Italian, German, or French.


The English edition

Box insert

The box insert is as good as you'll ever see in a board game. It's customized for the components of this particular game, with well designed compartments. It's quite a bit deeper than the box insert from the original edition, and contains new storage spaces for the game tiles, and a protective plastic cover.


A solid component tray

Component list

So here’s what you’ll discover when you open up the box:

● 1 palette board
● 131 palette cards
● 54 palette hexes plus 1 three-hex starting piece
● 34 commission cards
● 8 wooden easels
● 4 reference cards
● 1 start player card
● 1 rules booklet

The immediate thing you'll notice is the addition of the wooden easels, which are designed to hold the commission cards. But let's walk you through all the components, so we can appreciate some of the other additions and improvements as well, and get an overall sense of everything you get inside the box.


All the game components fresh out of the box

Commission Cards

The commission cards are made of thick sturdy cardboard, and are the paintings that players are recreating by collecting the right mix of colours. The number of commission cards hasn't changed (34, featuring 17 different artists with two works each). But with the International edition, the game not only includes European artists, but features American ones as well. New artists included in the new edition are Georges Seurat, Mary Cassatt, Jan Vermeer, Winslow Homer, Auguste Renoir, Henri de and Toulouse-Lautrec, and making way for these were Cezanne, Rembrandt, Ter Borch, DaVinci, Bazille, and Degas. There's also a new Claude Monet painting (The Terrace at Sainte-Adresse) and a Vincent VanGogh painting (Bedroom), and Van der Weyden's Annunciation and Presentation in the Temple received a small adjustment to ensure that the point total matched the cumulative value of the paint components. It's a bit of a pity to see some of my personal favourites like DaVinci's Mona Lisa and Rembrandt omitted, but I'm told that the 14 commission cards that were replaced are going to be available separately as an expansion (check eaglegames.net for Expansion set #1, Expansion set #2, and Expansion set #3), and having different paintings does help give the International edition its own flavour. I am glad however to see Rembrandt's "Anatomy Lesson" removed, since my children shuddered every time they saw this picture of a bloody corpse; in my opinion the "Night Watch" in the optional expansion pack is a much better choice.


All 14 new commissions

The graphic design of the commission cards has also been improved. Not only is the artist's name clearer, but now the bonus points earned for collecting both paintings from the same artist is also listed on the card itself, which is a huge and extremely sensible improvement. The other information has been retained, such as the artist’s name, dates and nationality, as well as the date the work was created and its current gallery.


Comparing commission cards from original game and International edition

Easels

New for the international edition are eight miniature easels, made out of plain wood.


All eight easels

They're nothing fancy, but they are the perfect size for holding and displaying the commission cards, and really add a touch of thematic flair and aesthetic appeal. There's enough for each player to have two, although in a two player game you could consider using the four extra ones to display the current Gallery. The easels are a terrific addition - not only are they thematic, but given the amount of components players have to manage (commission cards, palette cards, palette tiles), they provide a very functional solution to displaying your commission cards while keeping them secret from your opponents, and leaving your hands free to hold the palette cards.


A work of art on display

Palette Cards

The palette cards feature the colours you'll need to complete the commission cards. These are unchanged with one exception: bisque now has a value of 5 instead of 4, to reflect the fact that it's made by mixing brown (worth 1) and yellow (worth 4). This is a small improvement but in my view a good one. Since the game is all about optimizing your mixing and collection of colours, commissions with bisque were less attractive because in effect players lost a point by mixing brown and yellow, and this change fixes this balance and probably should have been incorporated in the original game to begin with.


Some of the palette card colours

Palette Hexes

The palette hexes, which you'll use to mix your colours in order to get the palette cards, are unchanged from the original edition, and are very sturdy and durable tiles with a pleasing finish.


Different kinds of palette hexes

Game Board

The main game board represents a painter’s palette, and is the location for storing the "bank" of palette cards during the game. The quality matches that of the original edition, but the arrangement of the colours on the palette has been modified. The rows now reflect colours worth different similar amounts of points (e.g. primary colours are aligned, as are secondary colours). Furthermore and the overall arrangement from left to right on the palette board roughly moves through the primary colours, reflecting how the colours would be mixed. I consider this to be an aesthetic improvement, as well as a functional one, because now the location where you are looking for the card you need makes more logical sense.


The beautiful and reorganized palette board

Reference Cards

The player reference cards are made out of thick cardboard like the commission cards. These have also had a makeover, notably in the overview of the turn sequence, which has also been modified in the rules themselves. Player turns now consist of a Mixing phase, Painting phase, and Clean-Up phase. Not only does this make good thematic sense and help make the game easier to learn and the steps of a turn easier to remember for new plays, but it also allows for a rule change to be incorporated easily, namely that the trading with a gallery may be done any time (but only once) during the Painting phase, and not just in the rigid order as was the case previously.


Player reference cards

Start Player card

Another addition to this edition of the game is a card to denote who is the start player. The original game rules had one minor omission, namely that players are required to have an equal number of turns when the game end is triggered, and this is important to help keep the game balanced. Having a start player card helps players remember who the starting player was, for when the game end comes around. The card itself matches the size and quality of the palette cards.


Start player card

Rulebook

The rulebook now consists of 12 instead of just eight pages. You can download a copy of the new rules on BGG Official Pastiche International Edition Rules in English.


The new rulebook

The rules have had the benefit of a general cleanup, with improved formatting, as well as a complete overhaul and rewrite to make them more clear. Strategy tips are now noted in a different colour to distinguish them from the rules themselves. It's also worth noting that two small changes to the rules have been introduced, both of which reflect the author's original intention for how the game was to be played:
1. All players get an equal number of turns, so when the game end condition is triggered the current round is completed.
2. The elements of a turn are divided into three phases (mixing phase, painting phase, and clean-up phase), and the three parts of the painting phase can be done in any order.


Sample page spread in the rules

The rules have also been supplemented with an appendix explaining some of the principles behind colour theory, including a colour wheel. None of this is required reading to play the game, but it does enhance the educational value of the game for those eager to learn more, and highlights the fact that Pastiche offers more than just a gaming experience.


The Pastiche colour wheel

Flow of Play

The revised player aid cards do a good job of highlighting the clarified Turn Sequence, which now consists of three distinct phases:


The revised Turn Sequence player aid

Overview of Changes

So now that you've seen for yourself how everything looks, what exactly has changed? Here's a complete list of all the changes:

● larger box with better box insert
● addition of a start player card
● addition of 8 wooden mini-easels
● 14 commission cards replaced with alternative paintings, including American artists
● improved formatting of commission cards (highlighting artist name and artist bonuses)
● bisque value adjusted from 4 to 5, and commission card points adjusted accordingly
● correction to point value of Annunciation commission card
● improved player reference cards reflecting three phases of Turn Sequence
● modified arrangement of colours on main palette board to make it more functional and aesthetically pleasing
● rules rewritten with improved formatting and clarity, as well as strategy tips
● rules supplemented with educational section, including a colour wheel
● rules corrected to ensure 1. equal number of player turns; 2. greater flexibility about when trading with the gallery is possible; 3. three distinct turn phases

According to the publisher, the easels can be purchased separately (see this link), as can the 14 new commission cards and the 14 old commission cards (for people who have the original edition and want 14 new commissions to play with, and for people who have the International edition and want the 14 old commissions to play with - just search www.eaglegames.net for "Pastiche" to find the relevant expansion that you need). Now that's what I call commitment to keeping your customers happy!


Replacement Van Gogh and Monet commissions

What do other people think?

Pastiche hasn't quite been out for a year yet, but it's been around long enough for us to put our finger on the pulse of public opinion and try to get some idea about what people are thinking about this game. Obviously it's too early to get feedback from others about the international edition, but we can certainly share what people are saying about the game in general.

The criticism

Every game - even the best - has its haters, and Pastiche is no exception. Those who disliked the game cited the puzzle and dry feel as not their thing, or expressed concerns about potential for analysis paralysis. Others simply found it too straight forward and were looking for a more strategic challenge, or more interaction. I don't think any of these concerns are inherent problems with the game as such. The reality is that it's not intended to be a heavy or deep game, and the fact that it plays relatively easily without any real confrontation is arguably a strength when considering its suitability as a gateway type of game that is both easy to learn and pleasant to play. It should also be noted that the naysayers did acknowledge that the artwork and components were phenomenal.

The praise

As far as positive comments are concerned, the game has received praise for the beautiful artwork and components, and its suitability as an accessible and pleasant family type game, which offers a lot of fun in the right context. Here's what some people have to say about it:

"The new gateway game. Beautifully put together, fun mechanics, somewhat educational." - Luis Diaz
"This game has been well received by my gaming friends, even the ones who didn't think they would like it and by those who are not all that interested in art." - Dea Draper
"I was expecting a nice light game to play with family, and it is, but there is some real depth here." - Ramsay Jackson
"Very nice set collection game that shares more in common with Ticket to Ride than a cursory glance would have you believe. Can be very thinky at times, but can also be played simply tactically. Absolutely top notch production values." - johnweldy
"BEAUTIFUL game and AWESOME components." - BlackRainbow
"Enjoyable game - I like the colour mixing mechanic and the components are beautiful." - Purrceyz
"The solidity and beauty of Pastiche make it into a work of art itself. Abundant high-detail images of well-chosen artwork, super thick box, sturdy components, and beveled box edges = amazing "museum-quality" production throughout. It's also fun and challenging to play!" - Alf Seegert
"Truly a delightful and beautiful game. The game is mechanically simple, yet brings a wonderful tactical element into play. I would put this right next to Ticket to Ride as far as gateway games go." - Remy Gibson
"Amazing components. Love the subject matters. Gameplay is very simple to understand while not feeling dumbed down." - Paul Harmon
"This is a very clever tile-laying game that has an actually pleasant race element to it." Jason Leveille
"An elegant, beautiful game! The wonderful thing about Pastiche is that it crosses all boundaries. I wouldn't be surprised if it's nominated for the SDJ--it's that good!" - David Bailey
"In terms of fit and finish this is the best game I have ever seen." - Greg Bookman
"Shocked at how much fun this is." - Jill R
"Awesome paint-mixing mechanic in the game ... offers interesting decisions and was well received by new and experienced gamers alike." - Accession




Recommendation

If you want to figure out whether the game-play of Pastiche makes it a game that's right for you, start by checking my detailed review of the original version, which includes a complete explanation and review of the game-play as well:

mb A Comprehensive Pictorial Overview: A work of art in every respect, and the ideal family or gateway game

But is the international edition of Pastiche for you? If you already own a copy of the game, there's probably no real need to make the upgrade unless you're a stickler for perfection. You will likely find yourself hankering for the wooden easels, and perhaps even the expansion pack of additional commission cards - but fortunately these are available from the publisher so you may want to consider purchasing them separately. Existing owners of the game would also do well to take note of the clarifications and small changes to the rules from the first printing, which are easy enough to incorporate with the original game. And if you really can't stop yourself, you could always buy the new edition and give the original game to a friend or new gamer, who will probably love you to bits for it, and make you feel good about making someone else happy with a quality game. Certainly if you don't yet own the game, there's never been a better time to get hold of it, with the benefit of this great new edition that really takes this solid family game to the next level of aesthetic beauty and quality. Truly this is a case of making something beautiful even more beautiful, and I highly recommend it!


Paintings by American artist Mary Cassatt

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mb The complete list of Ender's pictorial reviews: http://www.boardgamegeek.com/geeklist/37596

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Andy Andersen
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Excellent. I own the original and have been waiting for your review to show me the distinctions between editions. I may look a the upgrades, but for now, I'll keep my edition.

Thank you.
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Nathan Morse
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The distilled version, answering The Big Question for early adopters:
EndersGame wrote:
According to the publisher, the easels can be purchased separately (see this link), as can the 14 new commission cards and the 14 old commission cards (for people who have the original edition and want 14 new commissions to play with, and for people who have the International edition and want the 14 old commissions to play with - just search www.eaglegames.net for "Pastiche" to find the relevant expansion that you need). Now that's what I call commitment to keeping your customers happy!
Yes, Eagle-Gryphon Games, and everyone associated therewith whom I have met or with whom I have interacted, are superb.
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Jay Levy
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Great review - I actually ordered the easels and International commission cards last night
 
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Peter Marchlewitz
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Superb job! This is on my list!!
 
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Dea Draper
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Thanks so much for the info about the expansions. This is the first I have known about them--not listed here on BGG.

Edit: Ordered Expansion & easils
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Curt Carpenter
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Is this or will this be available in USA? I assume that current copies available online are not the International version?
 
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Ron Z
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Great review! The 1st edition had been on my wishlist but after reading your review I pulled the trigger and bought the International edition and expansion set #1. Boards and Bits has the International edition, but I ended up buying direct from Eagle Games since they also had the Expansion set + free shipping.
 
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Jim Jamieson
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curtc wrote:
Is this or will this be available in USA? I assume that current copies available online are not the International version?
The publisher (eaglegames.net) has the international edition for sale and if you get the expansion cards you'll wind up with free shipping. Unless you are planning on making a $100 order at somewhere like Boards & Bits this is the best deal I think.
 
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Curt Carpenter
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Yes, I make $100+ orders to qualify for free shipping all the time. That's precisely the question. How/when can I order from one of the online retailers and get the international edition? I'm not interested in paying the price the publisher is asking ($50), but I'm interested enough to consider paying the current online price ($39) for an upgraded edition.
 
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Ben Boersma
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An excellent overview mate. I received my copy today and it is a work of art. Also picked up the extra commission card pack - a very nice touch and greatly appreciated that the commission packs were made available.
 
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Todd
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Most of the retailers should state thatbit is the internstional edition. Gamesurplus has it.
 
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Frederick Soued
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Hi Curt--

Yes Pastiche International Edition is available in the US. The cover is different and it also clearly says it is the International Edition. There might be both editions available from some vendors but I think the majority now available would be the new International Edition. It would of course be a good idea to ask to be certain.

Thanks for your interest--Rick for Gryphon Games
 
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Ron Z
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curtc wrote:
Yes, I make $100+ orders to qualify for free shipping all the time. That's precisely the question. How/when can I order from one of the online retailers and get the international edition? I'm not interested in paying the price the publisher is asking ($50), but I'm interested enough to consider paying the current online price ($39) for an upgraded edition.
Eagle Games has free shipping starting at $30.
 
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Curt Carpenter
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I know. $50 is still $11 greater than $39.

($37.40 with the loyalty discount).
 
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Ron Z
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Understood. But, as I noted, I also purchased the Expansion #1 - commission cards from the 1st edition. To my knowledge, these are only available from Eagle Games.
 
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Curt Carpenter
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Duly noted.
 
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Eric Foldenauer
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curtc wrote:
Is this or will this be available in USA? I assume that current copies available online are not the International version?
I just bought mine from Boards and Bits. It was the International Edition reviewed here. The desciption there specifically notes that they are selling this edition. CoolStuff is selling their's at about the same cost, but they do not say specifically that it is the International Edition. I would ask for clarification from CSI as I suspect they just didn't update their description to reflect the changes.
 
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