Patrician IV: Conquest By Trade Review

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When you think of conquest, the one thing that probably comes to mind is war, while things like trade and economy are probably somewhere at the bottom of that list. In Patrician IV: Conquest by Trade, knowing your way around the economy is the way to success and rise to power. Taking on the role of the nephew to an enormously successful trader, you embark on a quest following in his footsteps.

Patrician IV's foundation relies on the world's economy. The premise is always buy for a little, sell for a lot. In the early parts of the game, your single ship will scour settlements across the Mediterranean. Each of these settlements thrive on certain kinds of goods, but also lack others, which is where you come in. You relieve them of their excess goods by paying a small fee, and then roll in the gold as you find a settlement that will gladly pay triple for what the normal asking price is. As you’re supplying cities with goods, your overall popularity increases. Be aware however that completely draining a cities supply of a certain good will make them angry.

As you accumulate gold over time, you rise in ranks, opening up different opportunities for you to become even wealthier and more powerful. It’s a welcome system that thankfully makes the constant monotony of buying and selling less annoying. For instance as you grow your ship count, you can send these ships on trade routes determined by you and they handle the rest.

Reaching higher ranks means gaining popularity both amongst people, but most of all pirates. Once you are able to turn some of your ships into Warships, you’re able to fight back and defend your goods. Unfortunately the battle system, or lack thereof, is completely lackluster. Once a battle commences, all you can do is watch your ships circle around on screen in hopes of winning. Certain modifiers such as type of ship and how many sailors currently occupy it help your odds of winning, but having no input makes it a grossly unsatisfying part of the game.

Eventually you may run for mayor of a city, depending on your popularity. Becoming mayor opens up a myriad of options, but expect to be quite overwhelmed at first if you’re not careful. You’ll be able to influence your city by building certain structures as well as do research in the university. The major problem with becoming mayor is the fact that you’re constantly under scrutiny by lords and more often than not have your city attacked.

If becoming mayor isn’t your thing, perhaps becoming an alderman of the Hanseatic League sounds more intriguing. As an alderman, you act more as an overseer to the sea, indirectly affecting outcomes through others doing the work for you. Like the Mayor, it’s also not an easy title to keep, as frequent donations to Hanseatic towns become more important, as well as making sure the missions you give out are satisfied.

Patrician IV is a solid game of trade that loses its momentum quite early on due to heavy repetition. The game does get slightly more interesting once you attain higher ranks and become mayor or an alderman, but the unfair AI makes losing these statuses turn into frustration. If attaining power by trade is something you dream of, Patrician IV just might be the game for you.

Above Average

Charmander
Mike Splechta GameZone's Editor-in-Chief, retro game enthusiast, savior of kittens. Follow me @Michael_GZ
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