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Subject: Paris Connection: My New Gateway Game of Choice rss

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BEAVERTON
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This game doesn't seem to be getting much attention, so i thought i would post a positive review for this exceptional little gem! I'll tell you what i liked, who it works for, and the few things that i didn't like.


*thanks to Judit Szepessy for the image


Rules:

I will actually bother to write out the rules because they are so short. The entire rulesheet fits on a single illustrated, double-sided page. That's how simple the game is!

All players are investors in six different rail lines across France. All lines start at Paris and grow outward. Rail lines will attempt to connect cities together to increase their worth.

Each company has a fixed number of trains. Trains are used as BOTH "stock" and "track". Stock can be kept in a players hand behind a screen and track can be built on the map.

To begin, each player takes a number of random trains from a bag (depending on the number of players). Then they all get dumped out and sorted into their respective colors to form each company's supply.

On a player's turn, the player can do only one of two things:
1) take up to 5 trains from the company supply and build them anywhere on the map.
2) trade one train ("stock certificate" ) from the player's hand for up to two more of a different color from a company's supply.

The game ends when either all but one company's supply is exhausted, or when a player reaches Marseilles. The player with the greatest value in stock wins.

[other fiddly bits omitted for brevity]


Game Play:

Paris Connection provides a satisfyingly deep strategy experience without fiddlyness, overcomplexity, or rigid adherence to "realistic" rules. It also doesn't overstay it's welcome. You'll be done in 30 minutes. If you didn't like the way it went, you can simply play again.

Except for initial random draws, there is no randomness. The initial random draws don't impact your ability to win at all, they simply provide a direction for the game to go in.

The bottom line is that if you don't win, it's clearly your own fault.

All players will stay engaged at all times, even when it isn't their turn. Every move a player makes can potentially affect your personal strategy. This is what a good game should do.

Once everyone figures out the very basic strategy to the game (after a game or two), gameplay gets very tight! You need to very carefully balance 1) building your hand, 2) building the map, and 3) ruining it for everyone else devil. Paris Connection has a pretty high "screwage level", but it isn't the kind that makes people flip the board over and go home. It usually produces feelings of admiration with hints of malice. But even at this level of gameplay, there are still plenty of options for the crafty. You can spend your time playing "smart" only to have the game thrown by someone who made a B-line for Marseilles. It ends up being a six-way mud wrestling match where anyone who makes the effort to reach out for a quick victory will get pulled back into the muck.

Games usually end with tight scoring margins and fist shaking.

Paris Connection ends up being a mind game where players are trying to figure out the intentions of all other players without being figured out themselves. Players making obvious and detectable moves will not win. Winners are sly and play unexpectedly.


Who Will Like This Game:

Probably most people will like it. It won't matter if you usually play lighter fare like Ticket To Ride or Settlers, or if you like the all-day Twilight Imperiums or 18XXs of the boardgame universe.

The one group of people that won't like the game are people that absolutely cannot handle any sort of conflict. There's going to be a lot of blocking, stealing, ruination, and parade-raining going on. If constructive people need to see a nice little farm they built at the end of the game, this probably isn't for them.


Things To Like:

Brevity - You can play out a whole game in 15 minutes. A thoughtful game will last 30 minutes. Diehards can stretch it out to 45.

Easy to teach - 5 minutes is all you need. Maybe 10 if you're dealing with people who "aren't into games" or have a reduced or impaired IQ.

Deep - It's not Chess or Go, but there's plenty of ways to play this game and a lot of psychology that goes into it. It isn't left to chance or randomness and there isn't any one winning strategy.

Reduced AP - Even when you have a hard decision to make, it doesn't require you to forward-analyze the board 8 steps into the future to make that decision. In fact, since so much of the game is psychological in nature, decisions usually come down to "what can i do without looking like i'm doing it?" and not doing mental cost-benefit analysis based on 20 pages of rules. If you are used to playing heavier games, it is very refreshing, yet not diminishing.

Plays 3-6 - The main reason why i got the game was because my table seats 6 people and this game can involve everyone. Most "Euro-y" games play up to 4 or 5, so it's convenient to have a game or two for a larger group.

Plays 3-6! - The game is flexible enough to provide the exact same level of fun for 3, 4, or 5 players as it does 6. I don't think this game has any optimum number of players.

It's the new gateway game! (sort of) - Games usually recommended for non-gamers like Ticket To Ride or Settlers can now take a back seat. I strongly recommend Paris Connection as the new gateway game of choice. I do so because it is easy to pick up, easy to teach, yet fun for the teacher as well. Sometimes gateway games are something you use to get to the next level. Paris Connection can be enjoyed on any level. (* Disclaimer: If you play with people that can't handle mental conflict, are overly sensitive, or like to do their own thing, then maybe this isn't the best option. It does involve a lot of thoughtful backstabbing.)


Things To Dislike:

Price - $47 was the cheapest i could come up with. That's a lot more than most games of this sort, but because of all the good qualities it has i pulled the trigger. Don't let the price hold you back.

Sorting colors - Game setup requires you to sort the entire bag of trains by color before each and every game. This isn't the end of the world, and it goes faster with several people sitting at the table to help, but it still isn't what i'd prefer to be doing.

Poor color choices - I have an excellent eye for color, but even i have a hard time telling the brown trains from the purple ones. Lighting doesn't help. I'm considering repainting one of them white instead. The colors of the cities (which indicate value) are all light shades of fuschia. Better color choice across the entire game would have been good. Not a deal breaker, but still a constant annoyance.


Things To Argue About:

Tokens - The train tokens are cute, but i think straight-up cubes would have actually been easier to see and handle.

Screens - I wish the screens had larger side flaps like the original SNCF game. I suppose you could make your own if you really needed to. If you play at a round table, it's not a big deal, but if you play at a rectangular table, the screens can be deficient.


Bottom Line: 8.8/10

It has so much going for it, I think everyone should get it while it's available. It's a game that almost anyone can enjoy. Easy to teach. Makes a great gateway game for most audiences. Plenty of strategic depth to keep you going. Plays equally well with 3-6 players.

For me at least, this game is refreshing because it plays so fast. It can be played before, in between, or after other meatier games. It can also be played several times in a row as a main course. You will enjoy it either way.

It loses a few points because of the bad color choices and making me sort the bag every game. I don't feel that the price detracts from the score at all.

Paris Connection will be my new gateway game of choice for when company comes over and we need an after-dinner activity.

Strongly recommended.
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Eddie B
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I fully agree. Paris Connection is a great game. Easy rules and yet enough depth to keep things interesting.
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Peter Mumford
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leiavoia wrote:
Paris Connection will be my new gateway game of choice for when company comes over and we need an after-dinner activity.

Excellent review. It is a nice after dinner game. Especially so because it will generally be played more than once. Most groups will want to play it again and again. And, supporting six players is a rare thing.
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Dan Owsen
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Gateway game indeed! My wife and kids will play the original Winsome version, but they look at other train games and run screaming.
 
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Manuel Pasi
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Nice write-up.
But "Plays 3-6" is a main reason for me (and I suspect a lot of others) to not get it. A game without a decent 2p variant/gameplay is just not as attractive to me.
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David Mihola
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leiavoia wrote:
I think everyone should get it while it's available.


Has there been any indication that it won't be available for long? Queen Games seem to keep their games in production for longer periods of time, don't they?

I'm just asking because I'm saving this game for christmas and wouldn't like to miss it because it is sold out by then...

 
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Rick Scholes
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I also do not purchase games requiring more than two. Does Paris Connection lose all its tension if there are only two players?
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Scott Petersen
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bankrupt wrote:
I also do not purchase games requiring more than two. Does Paris Connection lose all its tension if there are only two players?

Probably so.

2 Player Variant?
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BEAVERTON
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PasiMax wrote:
Nice write-up.
But "Plays 3-6" is a main reason for me (and I suspect a lot of others) to not get it. A game without a decent 2p variant/gameplay is just not as attractive to me.

I suppose it all depends on who you play with. If you are married or have a roommate or whatever, then I can see why a 2-player variant would be needed. For myself, I only play games in a group of at least 3, so my 2-player games never get played at all.
 
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Markus
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So this is my new overtext ? Hmmm...
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Thanks for your review !

leiavoia wrote:
Sorting colors - Game setup requires you to sort the entire bag of trains by color before each and every game. This isn't the end of the world, and it goes faster with several people sitting at the table to help, but it still isn't what i'd prefer to be doing.


Try ziplocks or a small plano box

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Mikko Saari
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That would be nice, except that players must pick random cubes at the start of each game, so you have to mix the cubes anyway.
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Andy Leighton
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Ploedminka wrote:
Thanks for your review !

leiavoia wrote:
Sorting colors - Game setup requires you to sort the entire bag of trains by color before each and every game. This isn't the end of the world, and it goes faster with several people sitting at the table to help, but it still isn't what i'd prefer to be doing.


Try ziplocks or a small plano box



Doesn't work. You have to mix up all the coloured trains in a bag and everyone picks out a certain number of random trains. Then after everyone has done that the remainder need to be sorted out into colour.
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Kevin Garnica
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This sounds an awful lot like a couple of other games that come to mind - Chicago Express & Samarkand. I know this is no "CE" but how differently does it compare to Samarkand in terms of complexity and levels of funosity?
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Mikko Saari
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Samarkand is more fun, but only slightly more. Paris Connection is less complex.
 
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