27/07/2021

Paris: La Cité de La Lumière, c’est charmant! [Review]

Multiple times I have visited Paris, but before I played this game, I took the beauty of the city light at night for granted. There’s actually a long history dating back to 1889, the year when Exposition Universelle took place, in which public electricity was the sought-after topic. The title of this game, Paris: La Cité de la Lumière, the city of light, depicts the romantic story in this very capital city of France. In addition, the game is designed solely for two players, a niche segment in board games I’ve not been playing for a long time. We have reviewed several duelling games, you can find them in the personalized category in this blog.

Disclaimer: I am an avid euro gamer and a hardcore Legend of the Five Rings LCG player. I am not a fan of solo game/variant. This statement will give you an overview of what kind of bias I might have while writing.

Undoubtedly, Jose Antonio Abascal Acebo’s Paris: La Cité de la Lumière is an abstract game to the core. With that being said, the game can absolutely go on with any theme popped out on his mind. Even so, he and Devir Games were on the same ground when taking the late 1800s Paris’ setting to spice up the game. How many games have been taking place in this city anyway? Of course, we have known about the one from Kickstarter in La Belle Époque which belongs to another segment in terms of mechanic and complexity. Perhaps, you may have heard about the post-apocalyptic version of Paris released in 2019 as well. What makes this game so attractive beside the romantic nuance surrounding the box from Oriol Hernández’ hands? Indeed, His illustration (I dare to say, it looks more like a painting) is a work of art.

MORE FIRST IMPRESSION ON PARIS: LA CITÉ DE LA LUMIÈRE

Small box, and with its square shape, Paris: La Cité de la Lumière will fit nicely on my shelf. Once again it is worth mentioning that the artwork is extraordinary if not out of the world. What’s more impressing comes from the postcards packed within the package. I thought it was mere extra, some unnecessary bonuses that contribute none other than flavouring the already flamboyant piece. I was dead wrong because they are a part of this game’s components. As a postcard fan, it does make my heart jumpy out of happiness. A bit OOT, but yes, you can request for postcards. Shoot me a message, and I’ll send you one, although it may not be from Paris.

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I played with the blue one. The artwork is beautiful, even for the tile back.

A two-player game with tile placement mechanic sounds like Patchwork, a game that has been sitting for a long time gathering dust on my shelf. With a similar approach, how will Paris: La Cité de la Lumière fare then? I found many interesting things in this compact game after reading the rulebook. The game shines because it is a tile-placing game with tricky multi layers. It brings a clever mechanic, and with it, we need to place the first layers to make space for the second set of tiles. The latter ones are the part that racks up points. The question remains (and will be answered later below), will it work, though?

GREAT EXPERIENCE IN PARIS

The mechanic in this game is well-designed, especially with the two-layer on tile placements I have mentioned above. It is indeed a clever way to convene both placements in Paris: La Cité de la Lumière. This game is more about devising a long-term plan, playing with strategy in the first phase. We placed the cobblestones to lay the empty lot for our buildings to later erect. While doing that, we already planned what kind of building quarters would stand in the next phase.

Decision-making process was involved during placing cobblestones and taking the building structures. I had a clear image in my head of how I would shape this town later. There was this one structure that fit would perfectly on the lot, but I needed to place one last tile from my hand on the board. Should I take the structure or place the…

…square tile first? If I put it now, maybe my opponent would take it. But if I took the building first, perhaps he/she would have placed the tile already.

In the second phase, things got more relaxed. With the plan devised already in the first phase, we just had to place the building on the right spot. While this is true, that does not mean the building placement necessarily happen without any possible nudge and annoyance. I still sometimes groaned during our session with Paris: La Cité de la Lumière when my opponent successfully blocked my move with the actions from the post…

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The post cards are illustrated with several landmarks in Paris, including this one. This is my favourite place.

…cards. This is where the game gets a bit tricky. We can still change the city shape with the eight additional actions available.

In short, the game truly promotes a direct interaction between players. The interaction can be positive, where some moves can give advantage to both players, but mostly it will be a bit negative (although not invasive and aggressive), which I will explain more below. Regardless, the latter one is plainly inevitable. After all, Paris: La Cité de La Lumière is a competitive game.

Actions from the post cards

The eight actions come with the cost with the post cards facing a tragic fate. The sides with great illustrations from Oriol were stationed face-down for the rest of the game, leaving us in anguish because we couldn’t savour the grandiose paintings. Maybe the effect of each action is far too great it cost exorbitantly high. Anyway, they sure made things a bit problematic (in a good way) in the second phase.

With these postcards’ actions, I (and my opponent) could still alter the result. For example, the BOUQUINISTES SUR LA SEINE extended my building, so it could reach the next street lamp, and resulting in more multipliers during scoring. Or maybe when I got cock-blocked by my opponent when she used the CHARTIER, a purple cobblestone, on my building lot. It was rendering my square obstructed for the building I planned to construct. Not to mention, the game also penalized players with a three-point-deduction for each leftover building.

Paris: La Cité de la Lumière’s production quality

The box’s purpose is not solely for storage. It becomes Paris, the city of light, where players plan and construct…

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Yes, look at this. Your box is your gaming board, another way to spare spaces.

…buildings on it.

I could not say it is innovative because I have played another game with the same gimmick, but it’s definitely convenient. The cardboard components are thick enough to make it durable. In addition, all of them can be stored hassle-free inside the box.

The post cards (I may over promote this aspect in Paris: La Cité de La Lumière, but sorry not sorry) once again are magnificent. It’s a pity that the pictures on it will not appear during the gameplay, but I can always get enamoured…

…whenever I look at them during setup. Is it enough? Hell, no. I am pretty discontent about it, although it’s all cosmetic.

REPLAYABILITY

There are a bunch of varieties to find in this small box. First, shuffling the cobblestones certainly brings randomness into the equation. It makes each session in Paris: La Cité de La Lumière a different experience.

Second, the eight actions in the second phase are chosen out of 12 available postcards. These actions also contribute to the different game styles in each of your gaming session. I think most players will be willing to replay because it is a fun game.

TARGET MARKET

This tile-placement game has a higher degree of complexity than Patchwork, due to the two-layer of planning-and-building I mentioned above. However, I still think the game is simple for most casual gamers. Nevertheless, this game from Devir Games and Kosmos is still…

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With 12 post cards and 8 combinations each game, we can have different experiences.

…enjoyable for highly experienced players. It needs planning, adaptation to change, and good timing. Unlike Ratzzia (another game from Devir) which I suggested for more relaxed nature, I can recommend this for all walk of life.

FINAL THOUGHT ON PARIS: LA CITÉ DE LA LUMIÈRE

As a duelling game, this board game has topped my list (although still under Legend of the Five Rings, of course). The mechanic built in the game is as sophisticated as its name; it is smart and offers something more strategic rather tactical. Nevertheless, the whole game grasps the latter aspect, too. Jose congregated both cleverly and I really enjoyed every session with his game, so don’t bother asking whether I like this game or not. Will I recommend this game to others? Hell, yes. For Kosmos and Devir, give my wallet a break, will you?

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