Dinner in Paris is a light-to-midweight game of tile placement, income management and set collection for 2-4 players. It's designed by The Trolls and published by Funnyfox and Maldito Games, with artwork by Alain Boyer. The game is distributed in the UK by Hachette BoardGames.
The artwork is the first thing you will notice about Dinner in Paris. It's gorgeous! The board has some of the best, most atmospheric artwork of any game I have played. The pieces, from the food cards to the player boards and plastic restaurant pieces, all look and feel great.
The aim of the game is to become the best restaurateur in Paris, achieved by building restaurants, placing terraces and completing a wide variety of objectives, both public and private. On your turn you will first take a food card, and this will be used in conjunction with others to place restaurants onto the board from a limited public supply. You will then take two of the following actions, with the option to repeat an action twice, with the exception of the 'build terraces' action:
You may draw food cards from the five face up in the middle of the table, or blind from the top of the deck
You may build a restaurant by exchanging the corresponding food cards from your hand, and place the restaurant on the outer edge of the board, placing your coloured tag on top so players can see it is yours
You may spend income to purchase terraces and place them on the board, extending outwards from your already built restaurants
Finally, you may use an action to complete an objective, either public or private. Once an objective is completed, you draw a replacement and then may choose to keep it private or make it public.
Play continues until there is no more space to place terraces or restaurants, or a certain number of restaurants has been placed. The player with the highest number of victory points is the winner.
But how do terraces work? And what about income? Each player board will have an income track that shows you how much income you have available to spend each turn. Your income is replenished on your following turn. It is increased by placing restaurants and by building terraces, with bigger, higher-scoring restaurants giving you more.
Restaurants are grouped into categories, with each category having a shared pool of terraces. You may only build terraces from one category a turn, with the cost for each terrace increasing the more you play. Points are scored at the end of the game, depending on how many terraces have been played, with bigger restaurant terraces giving more points... but also costing significantly more to place. Objectives score points based on difficulty and may require a certain number of terraces to be built in a certain shape, in contact with a feature on the board or in a certain region.
There are couple of elements thrown into the mix that add an extra layer of complexity and player interaction. The first and most important is the rule that terraces may never be orthogonally adjacent to terraces from any other restaurant, including your own. This allows for a range of sneaky plays and rushes to contain or block in other players. Secondly, there are a number of 'pigeon' spaces on the board which, if covered by a terrace, allow you to draw a bonus card. These often have powerful effects that specifically affect the tempo of the game, from allowing the placement of an additional free terrace, to allowing multiple objectives to be claimed in a single action.
There is a nice balance and tension between the two main angles of play. Do you use the cheap, quick and easy-to-place terraces to dominate the board and score location-based objectives, leveraging pigeon cards to get an advantage? Or do you slowly work to place high-scoring 'big' restaurants, taking advantage of the higher income they bring to surge into the lead in the latter stages of the game?
Overall, we all greatly enjoyed Dinner in Paris. It plays very well with two players, utilising a smaller playing area. The game felt fast and furious, with strong competition for space. We worried that the game would founder with four players, getting crowded too quickly, but we found the game played just as well, with a good level of competition.
The theme is cohesive and strong, with a neat income mechanic and a good mix of tile-placement, set collection and forward thinking. This is not a brain-burner, but it is fast, balanced and has good replayability.
On our Board's Eye View plays, everyone agreed they would like to play again, with much musing of 'how I will play it next time?': classic evidence of an engaging, well-made game and one that I think will be a big hit amongst both casual and more serious gamers.
(Review by Toby Hicks)