With a flick of the brush and a vivid blend of paints on the canvas, Colors of Paris is a shiny new worker placement masterpiece by Nicolas De Oliveria. Let me start by saying I think this might be my new favorite game with that core mechanic that I’ve played in years. The title originally from Super Meeple has recently made its way to us here in North America through Luma imports. Offering rondel driven gameplay, great components and delightful theme of competitive painting is a real palette cleanser.
I had the opportunity to demo this at Origins as I was immediately drawn to this titles vivid table presence. It immediately caught my attention through its components, from the coloured pigment cubes on a matte/glossy inlaid player board to the paintings standing up on little easels. I mean how can you not love meeples with a giant paintbrush and a jaunty chapeau. The one critical thing I have to say is a minor lack of artwork in the finished paintings, but it’s forgivable given how great everything else is.
Allow me to paint you a picture. Beyond it’s colourful exterior Colors of Paris is, as mentioned earlier, a worker placement game in which a central rondel board rotates at the end of the turn. Players represent artists (with the option of playing as famous painters from the games period), vying to finish more impressive paintings than their peers. They must balance managing paint cubes with the limited palette space of only 12 cubes while trying to apply them to their master works through clever board placement. Players are of course trying to compete for spots to perform optimal actions, while being aware that the board will shift at the end of the round. I shouldn’t gloss over that you’ll need to brush up on your skills by upgrading your paint tubes, pallets and brushwork to keep ahead of the competition gaining you points or more workers while also blending primary colours into secondary to score the most points possible.
The really great thing about the rondel here is the ability to (at the end of the round) remove all your workers from the board OR jump the gun on a single spot for next round. Here’s a little primer on the action spots. The outside of the wheel represents the core options in the game: upgrades for your painting skills, production of the coloured cubes, gaining unfinished paintings, applying paint to your acquired paintings and even producing black cubes worth points through secondary colours. The inner wheel however offers stealing the first player marker (and gaining a white cube), choosing to rotate the rondel zero to two spots messing up people’s plans and even duplicating another (or your own) players available action taking the burn off having a space blocked. Smack dab in the middle of the board is a spot that allows players to produce white cubes, a sort of wild paint that can be any colour but costs you points for each time you use it.
Careful execution of spots, prediction of other player’s choices and planning stipple what is critical to success in this game more than a just a stroke of luck. The game will end after a player has painted their second painting or alternatively the final black cube has been taken from the available pile adding a real urgency to the gameplay. In some ways I felt this was too soon at first, but after seeing a few plays that fell to the wayside. The box also contains famous historical painters which add asymmetrical player powers and special bonus cards making the white cubes more important in their usage. There is a notable lack of famous female painters from the period, but that is also an issue with history itself. That isn’t to say they don’t exist during the 1800s however. All and all, Colors of Paris left me feeling elated to play something I felt was overdone mechanically and still feel engaged the entire time, colour me impressed.
Thank you to Super Meeple and Luma Imports for providing a media copy for this article.