Michael Kiesling and Wolfgang Kramer are at it again. They have, once again, joined forces to give us a classic, but elegant game, all about expanding Paris right after the World’s Fair in 1889.
In Paris players take on the role of investors, trying to grab the most lucrative and decadent buildings in the streets of Paris. Anything from coffee shops and hotels to newsstands and theaters. If you become wealthy enough you even have the option of acquiring special landmarks.
At its core this is an area majority game. A genre of games I’m not normally a big fan of. But this is unlike any area majority game I’ve ever played! Let me try to explain.
You start out with a common board with no buildings at all, and no set value for how many points the 6 different districts will score. However, as the game progresses this will change. Each turn you draw a face down tile and place it in a district. This is now a building that players can acquire and it’s cost is also its value for determining the majority score at the end of the game. So higher value buildings are more expensive to buy, but better for the overall score.
But, here is where it gets interesting. After having drawn and placed a building, you have to place one of your keys on a bank in one of the districts (gaining you francs, the currency of the game), or you move one of your already placed keys from a bank (or other building) to a building in the same district, paying francs equal to the value or difference. The player that places the 4th key on a building, sets the value of the district by assigning one of the VP tiles to it. Will that district be worth a lot of points? Will it be worth it for the players there to fight for first place? All good questions that create a lot of lovely tension in Paris.
We all want a bonus don’t we?
All of the above would have made a fine game by itself, but Paris offers more, a simple thing actually, but a fantastic one. Bonuses!
Paris comes with 25 unique bonus tiles, all neatly encircling the main board. When players acquire the low value building they have the option of choosing one of these bonus tiles. Ranging from weaker bonuses like gaining a couple of coins to massive end game scoring for the most powerful. As a player you are free to choose any bonus you like, but there is a catch. You can only go forward, so if you skip to the end too fast you will miss out on some great things, but take too many baby steps and you might not get powerful enough effects.
Paris is fantastic. When a game takes a mechanism I don’t really enjoy, and makes a game out of it that I truly love, you know it’s something special! There are so many great choices to take all the time, where to invest your keys, what bonus tiles to take and if and when to invest in the big landmarks. Money is tight and there is so much interaction and wonderful tension.
To sum it up as briefly as I can: It’s easy to teach, it looks great, but most importantly it’s a blast to play.
If you want to know more about how the games plays, I recommend you check out Gaming Rules! excellent Tutorial and Playthrough video.
A prototype version of Paris was supplied by Game Brewer