Welcome to The Game Shelf!

After getting into the board game hobby at the end of 2014, we've decided to share our thoughts on the games we're collecting on our shelves. The collection has certainly expanded over the last few years and we've been making up for lost time!

Sometimes our opinions differ, so Amy will be posting reviews every Tuesday and Fi will post on Thursdays. We hope you enjoy reading some of our opinions on board games - especially those for two players.

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Saturday, 29 February 2020

The Game Reviews:- Paris: La Cité de la Lumière

Game: Paris: La Cité de la Lumière

Publisher: Devir Games

Designer:  Jose Antonio Abascal Acebo

Year: 2019

Ahhhh Paris, the city of love lights. In the late 19th century, Paris was captured by the concept of public street lights during the World's Fair. Street lamps light the facades and those buildings that are most well illuminated capture the most attention.

In Paris: La Cité de la Lumière, two-players compete to be the owners of the most well-lit facades on the cobbled streets of Paris. It's a competitive tile-laying game of two phases - one where you lay out the multi-coloured cobbled street and select your tetromino shaped buildings, and a second where you add those buildings to the city streets. Additionally, postcards from Paris enable you to take extra actions, adding statues, more street lamps and other notable landmarks to the streets until, together you've built a map of a small zone of the city and you will assess who has captured the most light and the most attention.


Gameplay

Paris is a game of two halves, in the first half you will arrange the empty streets of Paris in a way that will, hopefully, be useful to you, while in the second phase you will build buildings to wow the world. In the first phase of the game each player will have a stack of face-down tiles. A pool of tetromino-style building tiles will be placed on the side. During their turn players will do one of two actions: either take one of these buildings and add it to their personal supply, or place the tile in their hand into the game box (which functions as a board) and then draw the next tile from the stack. Tiles may be rotated whichever way a player wishes. This phase will continue until both players have run out of tiles, the first player to place their final tile will be the first player in the second phase.


In the second phase players will also take turns taking one of two actions: either placing a building onto the board, or performing a special action. To place a building a player must have that building in their personal supply. They must also be able to fit it onto the board by covering only squares of their colour, or the purple neutral squares. You then place a chimney on it to mark it as your building. Alternatively you may perform one of the 8 available bonus actions. Each player has 4 tokens that allow them to perform one of these actions and each action can only be performed once. They do a wide variety of things such as giving a small additional building or an extension to an existing one to adding lamposts to the map for extra scoring.

Once both players have run out of buildings and actions then the game ends, at this point each player scores points for each building based on the number of lamp posts adjacent to it, for their largest cluster of buildings they own, lose points for every building that they claimed but could not play and lastly may gain bonus points from some of the actions that they may have claimed. The player with the most points wins.


Amy’s Final Thoughts

Paris: La Cité de la Lumière is a blisteringly fast, but rather mean, tile laying game which will have you trying to outmaneuver your opponent. In many ways it feels like an abstract in the way you have to outplay the person sitting opposite you. The two phases work well, each giving simple choices with meaningful consequences. Taking a building tile early in the first round prevents your opponent from getting it, but also gives them an obvious clue on what shapes to try and block. There is also the question of how many buildings to take, and what size? Big buildings have much larger scoring potential, but are easy to block. Take too many buildings and you'll be going second in the second phase which can be game changing.

The second phase of Paris: La Cité de la Lumière is, if anything, even more cut-throat! Using up those precious purple tiles before your opponent can gives you a huge increase in your playable area. But then the actions are powerful and you don't want to let your opponent get the one you are counting on. Every decision in this game feels like a tough one. At least that's what I'd like to say, the unfortunate fact is that the second phase often comes to an end with a bit of a whimper. The last few actions are likely set in stone, either you have already guaranteed that you can place the buildings you have left, or you are simply taking the last actions remaining. It's a strange game that crescendos just past half way through and then calms down.


The thick, dual layer building tiles and wooden chimney pieces, along with the gorgeous art-style all make Paris: La Cité de la Lumière stand out. There's no denying that it's a beautiful game, even if the action postcards are perhaps a little wasteful. They really could have written the rules on them, since there's a whole half of a postcard you are meant to write on you know! You are also struck with the fact that the thick building tiles aren't reverse-able, so some shapes simply aren't available in the game. Imagine Tetris, but with only one direction of L and S pieces. Overall the flaws are small and the gameplay is good, I do wish that that the real excitement of the game wasn't somewhere around the middle, but for a 15 minute game that's not the biggest issue. It's certainly worth playing, but I don't think Paris: La Cité de la Lumière will be remaining in our collection for a long while.


Fi’s Final Thoughts

Paris: La Cité de la Lumière isn't your typical tetromino tile laying game - hurray! This isn't about being the best at Tetris, it's more about creating the perfect landscape of little blue or orange squares to secure yourself the best spots in town for the building phase of the game. There's lots of tough decisions during the planning phase and deciding when to secure territory, vs. securing the building you need to later use that territory can be a risky judgement call. The game will likely be won or lost in that planning phase, with the ability to use the special postcard abilities in the second phase becoming only the icing on the cake in terms of points. It's a clever combination of quite unique elements that can be very strategic in quite a short space of time and a few moves.


Paris: La Cité de la Lumière also does something extremely satisfying with its box. I love how the box is the board in which you lay out your cobblestone tiles - it's only a shame that this means you really don't have a lot of space to squeeze the pieces back into the box! Placing all of the building tiles out onto the board and seeing the edge of the box as the city skyline is a really nice touch that makes the game stand out.

Paris: La Cité de la Lumière looks good, plays in a really satisfying way and yet the idea of playing it really doesn't get me excited. I should really want to. We play a lot of two-player games, and this one is more on the puzzly, rather than the conflict end of the spectrum, which is just right for me. I think the biggest drawback for me is that in this game of two halves, only the first half seems to matter. If you create a good layout in the first half of the game and secure some areas that only you are able to build on, then you're set for the rest of the game. You can take all of the best postcard powers because you're not stressed about building on precious wildcard spaces. Since the postcards vary so wildly in their point scoring opportunity, this is a huge factor and one i've been making the most of. I have enjoyed Paris: La Cité de la Lumière, but I'm quite probably done with it. I would, however, recommend trying it if you're looking for low conflict two player games.


You Might Like...
  • The game has a great look to it, especially through using the box as the board and having a 3D element to the tiles.
  • Blocking is about the only mean thing you can do in the game - it's nowhere near as cut-throat as many two-player only games.
  • There's definitely more to learn and ways to do better in the game after you play multiple times.
You Might Not Like...
  • Some of the postcard powers feels a lot more powerful than others. Getting first pick is extremely important.
  • Usability could've been improved by having the postcards as better player aids.

The Verdict
7.5/10 Paris: La Cité de la Lumière feels like a very unique two-player game. It's very compact (perhaps too compact) and is a quick game to play. It has a very puzzly feel to it and really plays as a game of two halves, where the firs half is critically important. It's perhaps all over a little fast, and once you've mixed up the postcard cards, there's not a huge amount more to discover, but if you play two-player games this is certainly one that might stand out from others on the shelf for it's more unique gameplay, as well as its looks.


Paris: La Cité de la Lumière was a review copy kindly provided to us by Kosmos UK.

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