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PARIS: La Cité de la Lumière
A 2-Player Game from José Antonio Abascal for Devir

PARIS is a tile-laying area control game where the insert is a fixed frame into which the city tiles are laid, one at a time by the players.

Above is a fish-eye view of the game setup ready for play

Players have a set of 8 cobblestone tiles, each of which are quartered and feature a combination of all three colours, but mainly their chosen ID, Blue or Orange. Eight of the twelve Postcards are positioned, face-down, around the board with any Special pieces assigned and placed on them.

Players also have 7 Chimneys in their ID colour and 4 Action Tokens. The Chimneys are used to claim City Buildings, the Tokens to claim and activate the effects of the Postcards. There are 12 Buildings in various shapes and sizes - from 3 squares to 6 squares - which can be claimed by players and built in the game's second phase. Selecting Buildings is directly linked with positioning your Cobblestone tiles, you must, where possible, place tiles for your buildings to fit.

The Postcards are not just beautiful representations of early Parisienne scenes, though indeed they are, they have also been very nicely designed to be part of the game as each has a specific one-time, single effect, on the game. They come into play during the second phase of the game. 

Apart from the coloured buildings some tiles contain streetlights. These can be the most important spaces on the board as players generally may not build over them (there is an exception) and more importantly they provide light for the buildings they are adjacent to - lighted buildings score VPs. Streetlights in Paris have a peculiar directional glow, they only brighten the building spaces (and buildings) in the North, East, West, South positions, their light never glows diagonally. Buildings in the light score one point per square the building is comprised of; multiply the size of the building by the number of streetlights adjacent to it.

The next three photos show a game in progression.

Read the parts of each Phase carefully; there are two parts per phase.
Phase One: Placing Tiles and Adding Buildings to your Reserve: 
First take the top tile from your personal stack and look at it to decide whether you want to place it on the board immediately, use commonsense as to what to do with the tile if you don't place it, the rules don't actually cover this. In the very light text it says "choose one of these two options"; Place your tile/Add a Building piece to your supply. Phase One ends when all 16 player tiles are on the board.

Phase Two: Buildings and Actions.
Either place one of the Building pieces you claimed in Phase One onto the board OR activate an Action on a Postcard - only one player may activate each Postcard; claim the card by placing one of your Action Tokens on it - some activate immediately others on one of your turns, flip the card to its picture side once it has been used.
Building pieces are placed only over your own colour cobblestone or/and the 'mixed' cobblestones. The player colours are Orange and Blue the 'mixed' are Purple. It would have been so much easier to have just said 'Purple' than the confusing 'mixed'. Our guess is that the author's original colours were Red & Blue which when mixed make Purple, but the publishers decided on Orange rather than Red. It doesn't affect the play but it is a mite confusing when read out for the first time.

Note: You may claim a Postcard and not activate it. This costs you nothing and may prevent a good move by your opponent.
When you place a building you also claim it with a Chimney. Each building tile is cleverly created on its own base so that it appears to be framed in 3D, very inventive.

Careful selection of buildings is as important as positioning of Cobblestone tiles. Being stuck with Building pieces at the end of the game costs you 3 VPs, but erecting buildings adjacent to each other to form a large contiguous constructions gain you 1VP per space on your largest grouping.

PARIS is a delightfully enjoyable game of thought, skill, care and balance. You must remember to position buildings so that at least one streetlight shines on them (I like the streetlight mechanic, first seen by me (not necessarily the first time it was used) in MR JACK). Streetlights and cobblestones give a definitive ancient Paris atmosphere to the game, but I should point out that if you speak with an "ello! ello!" accent while playing, especially against your Femme, you are likely to end up wearing the Eiffel Tower in a very dark, deep and painful place.

In almost every instance the rules are clear and the mechanics simple, though you should take a moment to think before making any decisions. Tiles can be played anywhere within the marked areas on the board but do not have to be placed against previously placed tiles, though this will occur very quickly as there are only 16 spaces. Obviously each game is similar but because player tiles are randomly drawn, from a shuffled deck, it is unlikely the map will look the same.

PARIS is a highly rated 2-player challenging and thoughtful game. You should be able to purchase it for around £16.00 - £20.00. Be careful when ordering PARIS online as there is another game simply called PARIS from Wolfgang Kramer & Michael Riesling which costs around £36.00 and although it is a game involving buildings is definitely not the same game.


© Chris Baylis 2011-2015