Colors of Paris by Super Meeple
Players: 2 to 4
Playtime: 45 to 90 minutes
Perfect for: Players who enjoy strategic worker placement with a healthy dose of competitive angling.
Colors of Paris is a game of painting. Players must collect the right paints and hone their skills in order to create their masterpieces. Doing this efficiently, however, requires the right mix of short and long-term planning and a careful eye on opponents’ machinations. Only the cleverest will be able to create works of art effectively, so staying one step ahead of the competition is paramount, all the while balancing various activities. Before talking about the gameplay, here’s a quick summary of the theme from the publisher, Super Meeple:
You are a painter in Colors of Paris, and you’ve decided to participate in “Bateau Lavoir”, a friendly competition between several painters in a workshop in Montmartre, Paris. The newspapers know about this challenge, so perhaps this is a good opportunity to become famous, following the path of Cézanne, Toulouse-Lautrec, Monet, or Renoir…
To begin Colors of Paris, each player assumes control of a budding artist. The goal of the game is to select and complete “paintings” which are basically 3×3 grids of various colors, with each painting awarding a certain number of victory points if finished. To play, the person with the first player token assigns one of their workers to a space on a rotating gameboard (more on that in a moment), which allows them to take a variety of actions. These include collecting base colors of paint, mixing acquired paint to form new colors, advancing a skill, choosing a painting to work on, and finally (of course) actually painting. When all players have assigned all of their workers, the round concludes. The endgame is triggered a when a person has completed three paintings, and the person with the most victory points acquired wins.
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The worker placement mechanic in Colors of Paris is complicated by a few factors. First, the sheer number of activities that one can take makes planning incredibly important. Most spaces on the board have a restriction on the number of workers than can be placed there, so unless a player is quick, they might not get to take the action of their choosing. Furthermore, as briefly mentioned, the game board rotates which makes some spaces completely off-limits for certain rounds. And finally, some spaces allow players control over the gameplay, such as stealing/becoming the first player (which allows for an advantage in worker placement) or freezing the gameboard in its current position for a round.
What works in Colors of Paris is the fantastic level of engagement achieved through a great blend of theme and mechanic. Some worker placement games can feel a little rote—a player devotes themselves to a path, and then simply follows that road with maybe a contingency plan or two if they need to deviate. In Colors of Paris, the forecasting and constant strategic readjustment is far more complex, which make for a very compelling and competitive environment. Players must be incredibly observant of others’ tactics and intentions, as interests will most certain collide as certain board spaces become more important as the game progresses, and the rotating board only compounds this.
Enhancing the mechanic of Colors of Paris is a theme which has been applied very thoughtfully. For example, primary colors, such as red and blue, are fairly easy to obtain. But it requires a secondary step to combine them to create purple. As a corollary, paintings that require more secondary colors award more victory points. On top of this, players really must balance their abilities (i.e. number of squares they can paint when choosing that action, or the trade in value of primary to secondary colors) or else they’ll find themselves being outpaced in the later rounds.
At its core, Colors of Paris is still a worker placement game, so non-fans of the genre may not enjoy this particular title (although due to high levels of interaction, it might convert some people!). Note too that Colors of Paris could be played very aggressively whereby opponents sabotage others by purposefully by blocking resources and actions, and some people may find this hyper-competitive interaction less enjoyable.
Colors of Paris is a delightful game that has a fairly simple concept that becomes more intricate as the game unfolds. While it incorporates a common gaming mechanic, the theme and execution make this title a win for the whole family.
Recommended if you like: Le Havre, Lords of Waterdeep
Final Grade: A
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