Ah Paris... A city that tourists flock to to see the sights and soak up the ambiance. Players represent business owners attempting to lure in the tourists that ride the tour busses that crisscross the city. Another quick, light connection game from Michael Schacht.
Paris Paris is another quick, light, yet challenging game from Michael Schacht, (designer of Web of Power (Kardinal & Koenig)). Players attempt to place business along five tour bus routes, scoring points, (in a somewhat convoluted manner), when the busses stop near those businesses.
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The board of Paris Paris shows the city of Paris, with five colored bus routes overlaid on it. At the start of the game, each player secretly takes a chip representing one of the five routes and looks at it, keeping this information hidden for their opponents. This color route will score at the end of the game. Tiles representing the stops and intersections are shuffled into piles containing one more tile than the number of players. Now along each route there are bus stops and intersections, (where two routes cross). Each turn, a pile of tiles is turned up, each tile the name of a stop or intersection on them, along with a color, (either the color the stop is on or one of the two colors involved at intersections), and each player chooses a tile, and places one of their businesses on that spot.
Stops can only hold one business, and intersections can hold two businesses. The majority of the stops and all of the intersections have more tiles than the one or two allowed, so if the stop or intersection is "full", the placing player removes one of the existing businesses and places it into an opaque bag.
After each player has taken a tile, there will be one left over. This stop or intersection then gets a small scoring, (described below), and the tile is placed off to the side of the board in a special area. The start player moves to the left, and the process is repeated. If at any time, there are two tiles of the same color in this area, that route has a "grand tour" scoring, (also described below), and then those two tiles are removed from the special area. After all of the tile piles have been placed, the players turn up their hidden color chits, and each color shown has a grand tour scoring. Finally, the removed businesses are dumped out of the bag, and if any player has a majority of their businesses in the bag, (ties don't count), that player gets the number of businesses they have in the bag as victory points. The player with the most points wins.
As in Web of Power, Paris Paris has multiple scoring methods. Small scorings, which occur every turn, consist of looking at the left over tile and seeing if there is a business or businesses there. If there is, each player with a business there scores one point for each business they have at that stop. If, however, that stop or intersection is empty, then the nearest stop(s) or intersection(s) to the scoring location, that have a business on them must be found. Players with businesses at these locations score one point for each business they have there.
Grand tour scorings, which occur whenever two tiles of a matching color have been left over and at the end of the game, are a bit more complex. In grand tour scorings, the bus starts at the beginning of the route of the color, and drives to each intersection along that route. If a player has a business there, they will score one point for each business there, as well as a point for each business they have at all of the locations that are adjacent to the intersection. The bus moves from intersection to intersection along the tour route until it reaches the end of the tour. this is where the majority of the points will come in the game.
Paris Paris is a great game because it is simple and fast, yet retains a lot of decisions to be made by the players. Deciding which tiles to take, (especially when you are near the end of the round), can be agonizing, as you need to decide whether it's worth more to get a location you want, or to prevent someone else from getting points via the small scorings. After a few turns, it is important to not leave tiles that can trigger grand tours on routes where you have few businesses. Intersections are clearly better than stops, but if you get into them too early, you may well find all of your businesses removed from them as the game goes on. There are five intersections in the center of the board which are crucial point-makers, as they have intersections adjacent to them, which can score huge points, as on any grand tour two of these will score, and if you have two businesses on each, you will get four points at each one, (plus any other point for businesses you have adjacent to those). The bag scoring tends to lessen the "bash the leader syndrome" that can occur, as picking on one player too much will hand them a bunch of points at the end of the game.
Web of Power has often been called a great game because it packs interesting gameplay into a quick light package. I really dislike Web of Power, although I like the idea of a quick game with interesting decisions. I think Paris Paris does a better job at filling this niche, as the scoring is far less fiddly, (just watch people's eyes glaze over as you explain the rules for advisor placement/scoring in Web of Power), and there's not the irritating "when you make the first play in a country you can only play one piece that turn" rule that ruins Web of Power for me.
All in all, Paris Paris is a game I'm always willing to play. Others seem to agree that it's a pretty good game, as it received a nomination for the Spiel des Jahres, (although it didn't make the short list).
Some have complained that Paris Paris is too dry, and others that all of the decisions are obvious. I agree to a degree with the former, as the theme is pretty thin, but I don't agree that the decisions are obvious. I think that those who think the decisions are obvious haven't played enough!
Buy/Read about Paris Paris now at Funagain
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