With one major holiday under our belt and the other around the corner, you’ve probably had your fill of dressing up for fancy dinners and noshing on hors d’oeuvres. The next thing we’ll see is a shift in conversations toward resolutions and making salads for the new year. But I want to talk about pizza. For the past couple years, I’ve been given opportunities to go behind-the-scenes at Domino’s facilities, learn about new delivery vehicles, try pizzas from other countries and even have lengthy Q&A sessions with their executives. Peeking behind the curtain and getting glimpses of how technology has impacted the industry has given me a different view of the circle of happiness that comes in the square box.
For the past few years, when we would invite friends over for game day, we would happily have a couple Domino’s pizzas (and sometimes some extra goodies) delivered. This time, we did something a little different for our game night; we played Papa Paolo from Quined Games. No need to order pizza since the game itself is all about pizza delivery!
Pizza extraordinaire, Papa Paolo, is witnessing the rise of French Fries in his beloved Naples, the birthplace of pizza. As much as he wants to fight the hard fight against fries, his aging body can’t manage it. So he’s on the hunt for a successor. It’s not difficult to find someone who can whip up a good pizza, but finding someone who can efficiently, effectively and quickly deliver it to their customers is the difficult part. That’s where you come in. You’ll be tasked with showing how you can out-deliver your opponents to claim the title of heir to Papa Paolo’s pizza kingdom. Mmmm… pizza kingdom. At the end of five rounds, you’ll earn victory points for each pizza delivered as well as bonuses for how experienced you become as a pizza entrepreneur.
Each of up to four player begins with an individual board, experience markers, action meeples, a pizza maker and pizzas. There are so many layers in game mechanics to this game, it feels like board game lasagna. You’ll be building your own cities by purchasing tiles filled with different colors and numbers of houses. Each color of home represents a different benefit on an experience track (on their individual board). I’ll get back to that in more detail in a minute. To purchase ingredients to make pizzas and hire drivers, you need to have money (duh) and one action-free way to do so is by having area control which I’ll also explain. To top it all off… the action-selection method means there are only so many spots for each action and you have to prioritize your plans to accomplish what you want. Oh, and did I mention that there’s an auction process at the end of each of the five rounds? See what I mean?… Board game lasagna. Layer upon layer of actions and options which I’ll try to explain in a little more detail.
Let’s start by talking about the experience track on the individual player boards. I’m starting there because everything else you do hinges on the results on your experience track. Further, every pizza you deliver can impact that track. Just like a pizza – it’s all a circle. There are four areas of expertise: Finance track (gold), Market track (blue), Express track (red) and Delivery track (green). When you take an action, your experience level determines how much money you earn, how many ingredients you can purchase, how far you can deliver and the number of delivery people you can send out. When you complete the orders for every home on a tile, you get to move your experience track up one notch for the color of homes you completed. A big city with lots of homes allows you to deliver more pizzas, but a suburb filled with cul-de-sacs means you’re increasing your experience quicker. Each has its benefits.
I want to remind you that the goal is to deliver the most pizzas and you’ll need homes in your city to make that happen. Your city is restricted to a 5×4 or 4×5 grid and roads need to accurately connect. On your action phase turn, you’ll place an action meeple on the main board which is randomly populated with city tiles as well as tips. When you place your meeple, you may choose to take the tile and add it to your city OR you may take one of the actions represented on the end of your specific row or column. Those actions involve four things: (1) Finding a sponsor and taking the amount of money on your gold experience track. Can’t buy ingredients or bid on routes if you don’t have money. (2) Buying ingredients to make pizzas based on the rates and bonuses on your blue experience track. Can’t deliver pizzas if you haven’t made them! (3) If you have pizzas available to deliver, you can make emergency express deliveries (of the number of pizzas on your red experience track) to anywhere within reach of that pizzeria for a small fee. (4) You can pay to build another pizzeria. Not only do you have to decide whether you want to take a particular action vs grabbing the tile, but you also need to think about the available tips. The player who has the most meeples in a given row or column earns the tip in that respective row or column. A tie goes to the player with the meeple physically closest to the tip.
After everyone has finished taking their actions, play moves on to the auction phase. Here is where you’re bidding on delivery people, player order for the next round and investment tiles to increase your experience level on the experience board. Tiles are placed in ascending order with number of deliveries as well as the distance they can go. As an example, if you have homes that are 3 spaces away from your pizzeria, you’ll need to make sure you bid on a tile that allows you to deliver up to 3 spaces. However, at the same time, the player who bids the most is given the first option to grab an investment tile. This will allow you to either increase your experience level OR take the corresponding action for that track. One option provides a long-term benefit and the other an immediate one. If you got shut out of something during the action selection phase, this is an opportunity to take a much-needed action.
After five rounds, victory points are calculated by the number of pizzas delivered as well as bonuses for capping out an experience track. Bonus victory points are also awarded based on the least efficient victory track. Finally, pizza that went to waste (were undelivered) will cause you to lose victory points so don’t waste time creating pizzas you won’t use!
We met Quined Games at Gen Con this year and have fallen in love with a couple of their games we’ve played including Haspelknecht, Carson City and Keyflower You can pick up a copy of Papa Paolo direct from Quined or for around $55 on Amazon from Capstone Games who has a partnership with Quined for distribution in North America. Regardless where you purchase it, we promise it doesn’t require refrigeration so it won’t spoil. You can learn more about the different titles offered by Quined by visiting their website. We also encourage you to follow them on Facebook. Okay, I’m hungry for pizza now.
What would you eat while playing a game about pizza delivery?