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Paris

Explore and invest in late 19th Century Paris in this tile placement and area control strategy game from celebrated designers Wolfgang Kramer and Michael Kiesling.

Gameplay

Paris is a 2-4 player game that puts players in the role of builders and investors in the storied world capital. The goal is to exert the most influence in one of six city districts while moving around the outer rim of the board collecting victory points, resources, and scoring bonuses.

Players begin with their own player board and screen, 3 francs, and a set number of keys, which they will use to decide which district to invest in. The key count varies by the number of players, so no matter the player count, it is wise to use them carefully. During the beginning phases of the game, players will draw a face-down tile from one of three shuffled piles. Each tile contains the name of the district in which it belongs, and when flipped over to show the building, will be placed in the spot that has the same number showing as on the tile. After completing this, the active player will decide to either place their key in that district and collect the associated income from doing so, or to place a key in the center on the Arc De Triomphe. Players may only have one key in a district or on the Arc De Triomphe at a time until they place the key onto a building. Placing on the Arc De Triomphe allows for freedom later when claiming buildings in any district.

Rather than placing a key in a district, players may play a key on an unclaimed building in a district where they have a key or place a key they have at the Arc De Triomphe onto a building. To claim a building, players must pay the cost shown in dollars and any corresponding resources (for higher-cost buildings). As districts build up and higher point buildings enter into a district, players may pay the difference between buildings (for example, if a player has already purchased a 3-point building for 3 francs and wants to move to a 5-point building, they will only pay two francs to do so along with any resource cost). 

As players claim buildings, they may also receive resources, prestige tokens, and are able to move around the bonus track. Resources are used to claim higher-cost buildings in districts and can also be sold for francs. Prestige tokens are used along with francs to purchase landmarks, which can be placed in any district and are worth points that may sway the point value of the said district. Prestige tokens can also be sold for francs. The bonus track is where bonus tiles reside. When a player elects to move around the bonus track, they may move any number of spaces forward to claim the tile they want (but may never move backward). Bonus tiles offer a wealth of opportunities, such as resources, prestige, or scoring opportunities to be used immediately or later in the game as a player wishes. 

Once the fourth building has been claimed in a district, the player who claimed the building will then choose one of the six available victory point (VP) tiles and place it in any district. VP tiles offer bonuses for having the most total points in a district, with descending point values for second and third respectively at the end of the game. When all available buildings have been drawn and placed (a set number will be removed from the game at the beginning so not all districts will be filled before the piles are depleted), players may elect to take one of the available end game tiles, which offer immediate or end game bonuses. Once the final end game tile has been placed, play continues until all players have had an equal amount of turns plus one full additional round of play. Building totals are summed in each district (including landmarks) and players will use the VP tile to determine the points each player has earned. The player who has claimed the francs bonus tile will receive one point per franc they still have. These points are added to any additional victory points earned during the game from other bonuses, with the highest point total being declared the winner.

Paris components

Review

Paris looks intimidating at first, and Game Brewer has gone out of their way to present this Kiesling and Kramer design as a medium-weight Euro, but this is incorrect. Aside from the first time playing the game, which will take the designated 90 minutes the game box describes, subsequent games of Paris go quickly. Two and three-player games are finished in under 45 minutes. It helps that the game is easy to teach and the rulebook is well written and formatted. 

The game has a lot of action, but few actions are involved. Understanding that only two of the three available actions per turn is available, and that one of them will always be playing a building tile or taking an end game tile until both piles are gone, takes a lot of the more difficult choices out of the hands of even the most heavy analyst at the table. The set number of keys is also important to keeping the gameplay streamlined and moving rapidly in most instances. 

The strategy in the game lies in when and where players decide to build up their presence in a given district, as well as the timing involved in claiming the fourth building in any district. Because VP tiles can be placed in any district that does not already have one, a player who may seem to be losing in one district may claim a high VP tile and place it in another district where they are in control. This can lead to kingmaking scenarios in more competitive gaming circles but usually defaults to people leveraging one district to their benefit in another. 

The one drawback of Paris is the setup time. The game board is modular, and there are so many tiles to shuffle, place on the bonus track, and keep track of. This is where the game most resembles the mid-weight Euro it claims to be. 

But at its heart, Paris is a beautiful, fidgety game that resembles its namesake. Despite being an intimidating experience when you first set your eyes on the components and gaming board, just a bit of exploration will have many gamers finding it to be a very accessible game that has much to love and discover.

Pros: Great area control mechanics, set actions dampens analysis paralysis, easy to teach and a great rulebook

Cons: Setup time is a bit long, the amount of game pieces may turn people off from even trying the game