$10.00
Recommend
45 
 Thumb up
 Hide
11 Posts

Paris Connection» Forums » Reviews

Subject: Paris Connection: The Gamer's Filler rss

Your Tags: Add tags
Popular Tags: [View All]
Manchuwok
Canada
Mission
BC
flag msg tools
designer
mbmbmbmbmb
Paris Connection: The Gamer’s Filler

Playing a game many times does not necessarily qualify one to provide a deeper insight into how the game works, but playing a game few times certainly does disqualify one from doing so. So this is why I am excited about the Voices of Experience series, of which this review is a part. As of this writing, I’ve played Paris Connection about 40 times and I’m just starting to get to the point where I feel I can offer some analysis.

I’m not particularly interested in reviews that offer a complete overview of the rules of play. Most often I find myself skipping to the end of such reviews to read the analysis which all too often is sorely lacking. So even though the entire game can be explained in under 100 words, I’m going to proceed assuming that readers know the contents of the box and how to use them to play the game. If you’re not yet at this point, go read one of the other reviews first. Some of them include pretty pictures which I won’t take up space with here either. What I will take up space with is why I love the game and why it should be the filler game of choice for serious gamers everywhere.

I enjoy games with high depth/complexity ratios. Paris Connection succeeds in this area; in fact it is the very reason I was interested in exploring the game in the first place. The rules to the game can be taught in a minute or two. On their turn, a player takes one of only two actions. Yet I find the game to have a surprising level of depth. Certainly enough to hold my interest for this long, and likely quite a bit longer.

One of the most elegant things about Paris Connection is how the trains serve as both stock and track. By taking stocks you are also limiting the potential value of that company. And by playing track, you are also decreasing the number of available stocks of that company. This is a wonderful conundrum. Managing the number of trains in the supply of each company is key to doing well. It gets even more interesting when all stocks for a company are either owned as stock or played as track. At this point it becomes even more important to understand the implications of trading back some of that stock. Not only are you divesting yourself of shares in a company, but you are giving the other players who own stock in that company an opportunity to increase its value. It is the series of little dilemmas like this that make me love the game.

It is often important to ensure that you reach the maximum allowed level of stock ownership. But what I enjoy about the game is that there is some delicious tension surrounding when and how to do so. Max out too early or too late and you may not be able to convert quickly enough to the highest valued stocks. Wait too long and you may not even be able to acquire enough stocks at all. This aspect of the game is a careful balancing point, and it injects a welcome tension into the game.

And that’s not the only source of tension. To do well you must attempt to deduce what your opponents’ current perceptions of the game state are. This is a huge part of the game, and if you don’t entirely succeed, they may throw a wrench in your plans and do something you didn’t expect they would. I almost sweat as I wait for my opponents to confirm or deny my understanding of how they are understanding the current game state. Will they buy the stock I want them to? Will they increase or decrease the value of the company I want them to? It’s so tense! Everything you do in this game communicates to the other players something about how you are understanding the game. Learning to read the other players and even obfuscate the intent behind your own actions is key. I have not seen this type of mental processing implemented so well or in such a pure form in any other game.

And this highlights another aspect of the game I enjoy - it’s all about setting up the state of the game such that your opponents’ best moves are even better for you. You must manipulate the game and your fellow players so that what they think is best for them will actually give you the win. Clever use of your available 1-5 tracks is a great way to do this. New players almost always play all 5 trains, but this is often not the best play. I greatly appreciate it when a game provides a playing field that facilitates such manipulation.

And of course, one cannot overlook one of the true joys of the game: the ability to devalue a company by laying pointless track. It is so satisfying to run a company to the ground that a majority of your opponents own more stock in than you do. Even more satisfying is manipulating your opponents’ perceptions of your intentions so that it is entirely unexpected when you do so. Gaming bliss!

It is important to note that while the rules of the game can be easily understood by almost anyone, the game is also rather opaque. Paris Connection is opaque is because it is difficult to understand the in-game implications of player actions. There is a relatively complex relationship between the number and color of trains owned by each player, the number of trains remaining in the stock of each company, the relative values of all companies, the potential future income for each company, and the current and potential future value of the stock holdings of each player. Consider that this rides the rails of hidden information and ever-shifting perceptions by all players on the current state of the game and you might start to realize why the optimal move is not always simple to recognize.

I reject the notion that Paris Connection would make a good “Gateway” game for this reason. Casual/family gamers could easily learn the rules of the game, and even have fun doing so, but they will not easily come to an understanding of how their choices are affecting the end result. I almost find the simplicity of the game to be a negative: it lowers the barrier of entry far enough to allow in those who can’t cope with the level of opacity.

And this is the crux of this review. All of the most interesting elements that I’ve briefly discussed will be missed by casual and family gamers. I’m not saying they shouldn’t play the game and that they won’t have fun if they do. But Paris Connection is simply best suited to the serious gamer. Complaints that the setup and end-game scoring are too cumbersome, though while true, serve to demonstrate that the wrong audience is playing the game.

Paris Connection is a short game. The published playtime of 30 minutes is quite feasible. And because of how the end of the game can be triggered in more than one way, a game could even be much shorter. So though the depth of the game belies its simplicity, this depth has an upper limit. While each decision made is interesting and significant, there are few enough of them that a few wrong assumptions can derail your chances of winning. This rather discrete decision tree, however, is completely fitting with my expectations of a shorter game.

Because of the short playing time, the excellent range of supported players, and the sources of surprising depth I’ve outlined briefly above I am happy to name it Paris Connection: The Gamer’s Filler.
33 
 Thumb up
1.26
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
The Soot Sprite
Australia
Brisbane
Queensland
flag msg tools
mbmbmbmbmb
Re: [Voice of Experience] Paris Connection: The Gamer's Filler
Thanks for the review.

manchuwok wrote:
I reject the notion that Paris Connection would make a good “Gateway” game for this reason. Casual/family gamers could easily learn the rules of the game, and even have fun doing so, but they will not easily come to an understanding of how their choices are affecting the end result.


And this is why I continue to fence-sit whenever I consider purchasing P.C. It looks cute and I'm sure there's depth, but I'm sure that my family would play light-heartedly and then rapidly get bored with the 'random' outcomes.
3 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Behrooz Shahriari
United Kingdom
London
flag msg tools
designer
publisher
mbmbmbmbmb
Re: [Voice of Experience] Paris Connection: The Gamer's Filler
I feel it's worth reiterating the rules, even if it has already been done tens of times before. You could have summarised it within the space you used to say you wouldn't.

I guess the rule is to place up to 5 tracks if you don't swap shares? I'll admit, with only a couple of plays under my belt, I have no idea at all why using fewer would be a good idea. Surely whether you wish to improve or ruin the company, you want to do as much as possible?

The conclusion is something I hadn't considered. But whilst it may be difficult to improve your own plays, wouldn't it still make a good introduction to the world of shares? If one player is losing regularly, you can give them some tips (they don't have to work out everything themselves!) and the realisation that such a simple game has more strategy than initially apparent would be exciting, perhaps encourage them to play more, I think.



4 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Cindy Nowak
United States
Kenosha
Wisconsin
flag msg tools
mbmbmbmbmb
Re: [Voice of Experience] Paris Connection: The Gamer's Filler
I used this as a gateway game with my family at Christmas. Played with my nephew, my sister (brilliant woman, couldn't develop strategy to save her soul, though) and my two nieces. My brother declined to play, but he did sit and watch (and coach my nieces on some very good moves).

At first everyone was "oh, how cute, little cubes, blah, blah, blah" until things clicked with my nephew. He, too, asked "why wouldn't you put out 5 cubes every time?" And then he realized that by putting out fewer (and leaving more in the supply) he could bring one of the companies tantalizingly close to being an attractive choice for others - but by keeping a running total of the value of each of the other companies in his head, and a pretty close estimation of what everyone had as far as colors he knew it couldn't equal the ones he was more heavily invested in.

And then as others swapped some cubes out to choose the temptation he put out there, he picked up the ones that were in his color.

It's a strategy I have used myself successfully as well.

After I told him the game was his to keep, he was already planning on gaming with his friends. My poor sister is doomed.
18 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Manchuwok
Canada
Mission
BC
flag msg tools
designer
mbmbmbmbmb
Re: [Voice of Experience] Paris Connection: The Gamer's Filler
Bezman wrote:
I feel it's worth reiterating the rules, even if it has already been done tens of times before. You could have summarised it within the space you used to say you wouldn't.


I feel no need to repeat the work of others who have already done that well. Secondly, this review is intended for and will provide the most benefit to those who already know a bit about the game. Though as a photographer it almost pains me to provide a text-only review.

Bezman wrote:
I guess the rule is to place up to 5 tracks if you don't swap shares? I'll admit, with only a couple of plays under my belt, I have no idea at all why using fewer would be a good idea. Surely whether you wish to improve or ruin the company, you want to do as much as possible?


There are several reasons why you would not want to play 5 tracks because there is so much more to this game than either improving or ruining a company. I mention a few of them (though I don't name them as such since this isn't a strategy article). One is managing the amount of remaining stocks left. If you are going to be increasing the value of a company, it is likely others could be interested in obtaining shares in that company. You may want to make sure that there are exactly enough shares left so that you can obtain them as well on your next turn. That's a special example of the concept of simply managing who has the opportunity to obtain shares (you may not want them for yourself, but want to control who can get them). Another reason has to do with the concept of manipulating your fellow players into taking actions that benefit you most. This might involve leaving some juicy opportunities out there that other players will be tempted to take. This could very likely involve playing fewer than five trains. Another reason could be the obfuscation of your intentions. Playing fewer trains could lead players to believe something about your perceptions of the game that are not true. Another reason I didn't mention could be managing the conflict between companies. Every city space taken by a company means the other companies can't gain points there. You may want to entice players in trading for stock in a company by leading it towards a high scoring area and then use another nearby company to steal those points on your next turn. There are other reasons as well. Often one should be thinking about several of these things at once.
5 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Manchuwok
Canada
Mission
BC
flag msg tools
designer
mbmbmbmbmb
Re: [Voice of Experience] Paris Connection: The Gamer's Filler
scoutmom wrote:
After I told him the game was his to keep, he was already planning on gaming with his friends. My poor sister is doomed.


Nice work! He sounds like a gamer to me.
3 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
David Short
United States
Tucson
Arizona
flag msg tools
designer
mbmbmbmbmb
Re: [Voice of Experience] Paris Connection: The Gamer's Filler
Fantastic review of a great game, Mark. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

Question: After the blind stock draw, do you play with open stock?
2 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
J C Lawrence
United States
Campbell
California
flag msg tools
designer
Re: [Voice of Experience] Paris Connection: The Gamer's Filler
I play that only the cubes that started behind your shield are behind your shield. Everything else is open.
3 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Manchuwok
Canada
Mission
BC
flag msg tools
designer
mbmbmbmbmb
Re: [Voice of Experience] Paris Connection: The Gamer's Filler
dshortdesign wrote:
Fantastic review of a great game, Mark. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

Question: After the blind stock draw, do you play with open stock?


I am not one who demands that trackable information should be open in every instance. Sometimes this could cause a game to depart from the intended "feel" and bog the game down.

The fact that Paris Connection is a gamer's game would lead me to play with open stock holdings. The fact that it is a filler would lead me to play with hidden stocks. The fact that I have played almost all my games on breaks at work has by time necessity lead to almost all of my plays being of the latter variety.

So I can't comment on the game when played with hidden stocks.
3 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
J C Lawrence
United States
Campbell
California
flag msg tools
designer
Re: [Voice of Experience] Paris Connection: The Gamer's Filler
manchuwok wrote:
The fact that Paris Connection is a gamer's game would lead me to play with open stock holdings. The fact that it is a filler would lead me to play with hidden stocks. The fact that I have played almost all my games on breaks at work has by time necessity lead to almost all of my plays being of the latter variety.


I've found that the game plays equally well with open information (as above) with both audiences.
2 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Breno K.
Brazil
Brasília
Distrito Federal
flag msg tools
mbmbmbmbmb
Re: [Voice of Experience] Paris Connection: The Gamer's Filler
clearclaw wrote:
manchuwok wrote:
The fact that Paris Connection is a gamer's game would lead me to play with open stock holdings. The fact that it is a filler would lead me to play with hidden stocks. The fact that I have played almost all my games on breaks at work has by time necessity lead to almost all of my plays being of the latter variety.


I've found that the game plays equally well with open information (as above) with both audiences.


Yes, I don't think having the information open makes the game harder, it just makes it clearer.

I'm trading my copy as my group will never play it with the intent of seeking its depths. Great design, though.
2 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Front Page | Welcome | Contact | Privacy Policy | Terms of Service | Advertise | Support BGG | Feeds RSS
Geekdo, BoardGameGeek, the Geekdo logo, and the BoardGameGeek logo are trademarks of BoardGameGeek, LLC.