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Subject: Roelovich's quick point-by-point review of Papà Paolo rss

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Roel Vaneerdeweg
Belgium
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In this point-by-point review, based on limited experience with the game, I try to give an overview of what I think are strengths and weaknesses of the game. I hope you find it helpful.

The Positive
(+) The game pops with beautiful box and board art full of lively colors and bustling with humoristic details. The components are cute and a lot of fun to play with (pizza boxes with italian stickers on them, delivery scooter pawns, ...).

(+) The theming of the game blends well with the mechanics: you try to deliver as many pizza's to as many houses as possible, improving your skills as you go. This makes the game accessible, easy to understand and fun to play.

(+) There are some neat mechanics implemented in this game, offering interesting choices all of the time. The game engine revolves around a 4x4 tile grid with streets and colored houses on the tiles. Players need those 'town districts' to build up the neighborhood around their pizzeria(s), in order to get their pizza's delivered. Having delivered pizza to each house on a tile gives the player a skill-upgrade: do you choose tiles with many houses so you can deliver many pizza's close to your pizzeria (ensuring many points), or tiles with few houses to increase skill-upgrading speed? It is also possible to neglect the chosen tile in the grid and perform one of the 2 base actions related to the selected grid spot (2 out of 4 possible actions: obtain cash, bake pizza's, express delivery or open a new pizzeria). What's more, at the edge of the grid there are gold coins blinking and there is a majority thing going on in the rows and columns of the grid, with the coins going to the player best represented in the corresponding row or column of the grid at the end of the round. You need money to bake pizza's, make express deliveries, open new pizzeria's and bid on means for regular delivery at the end of the round. Easy but varied mechanics (worker placement, tile placement and bidding) with only four base actions, but they invite players to think things through and to plan ahead.

(+) The game is quick to explain and quick to play. The five rounds are over in about 90 minutes in a 4-player game. The gameflow is smooth with little downtime (some limited downtime is possible when a player is thinking what spot to choose in the tiles grid - but this is totally acceptable).

(+) The game will be different from game to game depending on which city tiles come out early (many houses mean slower progress on the skill-tracks, different colored houses boost different type of skills, ...). This way, one game can see a lot of money getting into the game if lots of tiles with one yellow house come into play early and the next game can have very little. This increases replayability.

The Negative
(-) The colored houses on the tiles are not always very clear (especially some red and yellow houses). This is a minor annoyance, the game material is generally very good and the game is perfectly playable. Colorblind friends will get challenged, but for them each type of colored house also as a non-color related 'hint' (example: yellow houses have windows, green houses have satellite dishes, red houses have antenna's, ...).

(-) I admit I don't have enough experience with this game to put this point down as a real disadvantage, so let me put it as a 'concern' which may be elevated with more play-experience. My concern is that, when played right, scoring might always come down to more or less the same end score with turn order becoming very important in your chances for victory. Let me explain: you have 20 (maybe max 25)actions/tiles to use in this game and with only 4 base actions you will find yourself cycling through a logical sequence of actions (make sure you have money to pay actions and bid on delivery equipment, make sure you have pizza's, make sure you expand your neighbourhood with enough houses, deliver pizza's (express and/or standard delivery)). A major component in scoring is number of pizza's delivered, and honestly - chances are big that each player will take more or less the same number of tiles and obtain more or less the same number of houses to deliver to in the course of the game, unless they really screw up. Further points can be gained by boosting your skills, but those skill tracks also move up by delivering pizza's and each player gets the chance to boost one skill at the end of each round (so not a big difference to be made here either). If this concern proves to be valid, this might mean that the end scores with minimally skilled players will often be very close to each other and the final score can feel a little predetermined with a significant advantage for players who have often been early in turn order (statistically granting them the more interesting spots in the tile grid, allowing for superior action and tile optimalization). For this reason, I would advise to only play the variant in which turn order gets determined by bidding on delivery equipment (not simply the standard clock-wise gameplay!). If this problem gets confirmed, this might cause me to lose interest and reduce replayability.

Conclusion
Papà Paolo is a sweet, lively and playful game bursting of atmosphere. It is a medium-weight very accessible euro game revolving around a tile/action grid which ties together different type of mechanics to create an interesting gaming experience, striking a balance between strategic and tactical play. With a smooth gameflow and a very reasonable play time the game does not outstay its welcome. My only real concern with the game is that I can not (yet?) rule out the possibility that due to the way the game works an important part of the end score is 'predetermined', unless players really screw up for some reason. Significant extra skill in playing this game might only score you marginally more points, while the effect of turn order might cause more significant point differences, resulting in an undesired situation in which skillful play doesn't get sufficiently reflected in game scoring. Please note that this point of critisism is susceptible to change (maybe there are also strategies possible in which players getting a lot of money bid on the end of round tiles in order to deliver extra pizza's (via express-delivery or an extra bake pizza's action), breaking out of the classical patern (obtaining money, obtaining tiles with houses, baking pizza's, making deliveries) resulting in more or less the same end score each time you play) - but for now I'm not convinced that after multiple plays the game will offer ways for experienced players to improve their scores. Nevertheless, this concern has not been proven just yet, and for now I must say that based on the tons of interesting mechanics and the charming atmosphere, the developers clearly put a lot of love and thought into this little game with a big heart!

The verdict

7,1/10 - but susceptible to very significant change (upwards or downwards!) with more experience and depending on how the 'scoring concern' turns out.

Tips for those going in:
(*) Play strategically with an eye on which skills you plan to improve and often use first. For example: Having a lot of money and making express deliveries can be powerful if you combine it with an early investment in red houses and a good connected steet-layout with lots of loops in your neigbourhood. Another example: if you invest heavily into baking pizza's, it would be logical to try to take tiles with many houses as close to your pizzeria as possible in order to deliver more.
(*) Keep an eye on your overall strategy when selecting grid spaces, but also play tactical: maybe another spot in the grid renders similar results, but nets you some much needed coins, or it takes away the possibility for your opponent to bake pizza's this round?
(*) Try to get the maximum out of every action you get: you only have 20 - 25 actions. When baking pizza's, bake enough! When placing tiles, try to think ahead how your delivery round will work.
(*) If you plan to build streets in all directions around your pizzeria, invest in the green skill so you can deliver in multiple directions.
(*) Always play with the variant in which turn order for each player is determined by bidding at the end of the round (not simply clock-wise!). I expect the game to be much more interesting that way!
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fabrice vandenbogaerde
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Thanks for your thoughts on Papa Paolo. This information is really valuable for me.
You should try the variants where columns (posted here on BGG) or rows (variant in rulebook) determine player order. It will make the bidding phase more tense.
P.S.: I have played Papa Paolo like a 100 times now and I still love it. My personal record,37 points, I reached without taking the action 'take monney'.

Thx for playing Papa Paolo

Fabrice
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Roel Vaneerdeweg
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fabricefab wrote:
Thanks for your thoughts on Papa Paolo. This information is really valuable for me.
You should try the variants where columns (posted here on BGG) or rows (variant in rulebook) determine player order. It will make the bidding phase more tense.
P.S.: I have played Papa Paolo like a 100 times now and I still love it. My personal record,37 points, I reached without taking the action 'take monney'.

Thx for playing Papa Paolo

Fabrice


Hi Fabrice, thanks for your reply!

I very much enjoyed playing the game! The fact that you managed to pull off a strategy in which you never had to use a 'take money' action and in which you scored 37 points ('Chapeau'!) is kind of reassuring with regard to the concern about scoring I put down in my review. I managed to squeeze out 29 points on my first play, indicating there remains potential for improvement based on skill/experience.

Based on my experience, I agree that the variant you mentioned will improve bidding and would add tactical opportunities: I recommend players to use this variant in their games.

I'm looking forward to having more plays of Papà Paolo in the future, and should my insights shift, I will of course update my review!
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fabrice vandenbogaerde
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I am looking forward to it. In my experience, if you play Papa Paolo with equally experienced players, scoring usually comes down to 2 or 3 points. The winner often is the player who got his timing right. Therefore it is in your advantage to keep in mind what other players are doing or planning for. Take the opportunity when it comes and hold back when you can afford to do so. Planning at least one round ahead as a back up when things do not go as you were hoping for. But I should keep my mouth shut and let you experience yourself.

Kind Regards

Fabrice

BTW this sentence " the developers clearly put a lot of love and thought into this little game with a big heart!" That is why I am working for.

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Petri Savola
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fabricefab wrote:
Thanks for your thoughts on Papa Paolo. This information is really valuable for me.
You should try the variants where columns (posted here on BGG) or rows (variant in rulebook) determine player order. It will make the bidding phase more tense.
P.S.: I have played Papa Paolo like a 100 times now and I still love it. My personal record,37 points, I reached without taking the action 'take monney'.

I played Papa Paolo for the 2nd time today, but managed to already score 38. The game went fairly well, but it could go even better, so I think 40 points and above is reachable score. We played a 4 player game and I was player 4, which may be the worst seat because you're likely to get less money than others during the kickback phase.

On first turn I managed to get only 3 money from kickbacks, which was not great, but I managed to get the largest delivery tile and yellow tech with a bid of 6 and delivered 4 to get 2 blue tech.

On 2nd round I was quite low on money and again last in turn order, so I just baked pizza twice (spent 6) and expanded town twice. Managed to get only 2 money from kickbacks, but luckily my opponents didn't realize that I entered the bidding with just 3 money and I got the smallest delivery tile and green tech for just 1 money. I got another green tech for delivering 2 pizzas to a green tile.

On round 3 I had to take money action for 5 money, baked pizza once (spent 3) and expanded city twice. Managed to get 5 kickback money and settled with 2nd smallest delivery tile (cost only 2) and actually baked pizza instead of taking blue tech with the blue tile. Opponents were laughing at my huge piles of pizza at this point, I believe I had 15 pizzas in my pizzeria before the delivery. I managed to deliver pizza to fill initial yellow tile for tech and partially filled some red tiles.

At the beginning of round 4 I had 2 yellow tech, 2 blue tech, 0 red tech and 2 green tech. On round 4 I took money action twice and made sure I had enough money so others didn't want to compete for the largest delivery tile. I took it along with red tech and increased my express delivery pizza count from 1 to 3 in a single round by supplying pizzas for 3 red tiles also (2 of them were partially delivered earlier).

On the last round I started with an express delivery to upgrade my blue tech, because I calculated that I will need 1 more pizza. After that I baked pizza one more time (this time for 8 pizzas), did another express delivery and expanded town once. Any of the two biggest delivery tiles would've been good enough for me and I got one of them along with green tech for 2 extra poitns.

In the end I had 13 tiles in my town (2 of them were initial tiles), got 5 points from lowest tech, 2+2 points from green and red tracks and delivered a total of 29 pizzas.

So here's a summary of what I did:
* 11 actions to pick city tiles
* 3 actions to take money
* 2 actions for express delivery
* 4 actions to bake pizza (+1 for baking once instead of taking blue tech)

I got tech upgrades from:
* 1 yellow from bidding, 2 from huts
* 3 blue from huts
* 1 red from bidding, 4 from huts
* 2 green from bidding, 3 from huts

I guess the scores will be higher in games where bids are fairly low. And if your opponents let you get a lot of kickback money it will also help the score. In this game I got very good deals from the bidding every time, but struggled to get kickback money.

Papa Paolo is fun to play and seems fun to analyze as well and I really like the simplicity of scoring. Thanks for creating a nice game!
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fabrice vandenbogaerde
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38! And I thought 37 would be hard to beat. Congratulations anyway, that is the highest score I know of.

Fabrice

Thx for playing Papa Paolo
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ieoor db
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Petri, I don't see any building action mentioned by you? How many pizzerias did you build? I wonder where you stacked 15 pizzas? Your starting tile can only hold 5 pizzas. To stack 15 pizzas you need your starting tile, two pizzerias worth 5 lira (which can hold 4 each) and another pizzeria to stack the remaining two.
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Petri Savola
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ieoor wrote:
Petri, I don't see any building action mentioned by you? How many pizzerias did you build? I wonder where you stacked 15 pizzas? Your starting tile can only hold 5 pizzas. To stack 15 pizzas you need your starting tile, two pizzerias worth 5 lira (which can hold 4 each) and another pizzeria to stack the remaining two.

Good observation, I hadn't noticed that there's a maximum capacity for pizzerias. I thought the symbols only determine the number of initial pizzas in a pizzeria. Now when I read the rules again, it seems that there's a capacity and you always get two pizzas when you get a new pizzeria regardless of the capacity.

So my score and report above are not valid because I had overlooked a rule.
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