If you like hand management, set collection, and a beautiful artistic theme in a light filler game, you'll enjoy Montmartre.
Theme and What is it?
At the beginning of the 20th century, and while the construction of the controversial Sacre-Caeur Basilica is ongoing, a much more modest building will witness the birth of incredible artistic talents: Le Bateau-Lavoir. There a number of artists will wait for fame to come. They are often forced to sell their painting at the Sunday market but hope to be able to find buyers for their best works through Ambroise Vollard, the art dealer. You will play one of these painters and artists who are seeking fame and you will look for inspiration in Montmartre. — from the game manual
Montmartre takes you on an immersive trip back to the artistic movements of the beginning of the 20th century, highlighting the sweet nostalgia of the narrow alleyways of Paris. In this game of numbers, you will take on the role of a painter and you’ll let your muse inspire you to become a famous artist! With this card game where tactics are key, you will experience a wide range of emotions and colors! — from the BGG description.
Montmartre is a light set-collection & hand management card game with an artistic theme.
Setup is quick and easy… There are Collector cards in four different colors. Place them in four face-up piles (1 per color) with the lowest value cards on top. Next to them, place the 5 Contract cards (which earn points for card variety) and set the Ambroise Vollard standee randomly on one of the Collector cards.
Shuffle the muse cards and deal 4 cards to each player. The rest of the muse cards are divided into 3 roughly-equal face-up piles. Pile the Francs within reach of all players. Give the first player token to the first player, and begin play.
During the player’s turn, they must select between two actions (Action A or Action B).
Action A has three steps:
- 1. Paint (mandatory action). Players place the card(s) in their painting workshop (play area in front of themselves) face up (there is a typo in the English manual that says face DOWN; the French version says “posez face visible” which is face UP): either one card from their hand regardless of its value OR two cards if their sum is less than or equal to 5. Arrange them from lowest to highest value (with the highest value on top).
- 2. Sell at the Market (optional). To make room in the painting workshop (which can hold only 6 paintings at the end of the turn) the player can sell off one or more of paintings of the same style at the market for 1 Franc per painting. (It’s not a lot, but remember, the people at the market aren’t that much richer than you. At least you’ll be able to eat tonight.)
- 3. Pick. At the end of the turn, the player redraws up to the hand limit of four cards. If a player forgets to pick new cards at the end of their turn, they must wait until the end of their next turn to pick up cards!
- Sell to a collector (mandatory action). Players may sell if both of these conditions are true:
- — At the beginning of the turn, Ambroise Vollard must not be next to the Collector to whom you wish to sell.
- — The player must have paintings in the style (color) the Collector enjoys, either more paintings than any other player or paintings of a total value higher than the total value of other players’ paintings.
If these two conditions are met, move Ambroise next to another Collector of the player’s choice, discard the painting of the highest value and of the same color of the Collector where Ambroise went, then finally pick the card of top of the Collector’s pile and keep it face down.
- Draw for a newspaper (optional action). Each player may use their growing fame to earn an available contract. This allows players to draw for a newspaper once per game. When the player earns a second Collector color they can pick the white contract. When they earn a third Collector color, they can pick a grey contract, and when they earn a fourth Collector color, they can pick a brown contract.
Play proceeds around the table clockwise until the end of the game is triggered. The game ends when 2 of the 4 Collector piles are empty or a player has earned at least 15 Francs (excluding Collector cards). Every player gets the same number of turns.
Scoring is completed by adding the value of each earned Collector card, the Francs earned at the market, and the value of any Contracts the player earned. The player with the highest score becomes the most renowned painter and wins the game. In case of a tie, tied players share the victory.
The initial impression of the box is nice — colorful, Parisian, and beautiful. The design of the game is artistic and attractive. The box is splashed with bright vivid colors and conveys the direction, theme, and relative weight of the game.
Opening the box is a tiny disappointment. The box contains only the game cards & reference cards, a rule book, and cardboard tokens. No insert or anything. It felt a little sparse and could have been a simple cardboard insert like used in Wordsy or other card games.
The cards are tarot sized to highlight the art and the cards themselves are of good quality with bright vibrant art on them.
Game Build Quality
The tarot sized cards are of good quality and shuffle nicely. Printing is solid and colorful. The tokens are of good quality.
The English manual bears evidence of being translated from French. There are some colorful (see what I did there?) turns of phrase, and one incorrect piece of information (as discussed above — the English manual instructs to play cards face down when they need to go face up).
The quality overall is as expected for a game of this weight and price point.
This game should fit nicely on a standard card table.
Since this game has an artistic theme, they needed to nail the art style of the game. I think they did a great job. Cards of the same color (suit) range in value from 0-8. Instead of using the same art for the entire suit, the lower value cards are less-finished versions of the final art (which appears on the highest value card). It’s neat to see your paintings get more finished as the values climb.
The paintings in the game are inspired by Toulouse-Latrec, Alfons Mucha, Picasso, and Modigliani. Sure, some of these painters didn’t live during the time of the game, nor were they ever at the Bateau-Lavoir, but their art styles contribute to the beauty of the game.
The iconography is simple but effective. Each card has a value and a color that is presented consistently throughout the game.
This is a light filler game with a 20-minute playtime (with a 5-8 minute teach) that moves quickly. There is a sense of strategy with when you claim Contracts when you sell paintings, and where to move Ambroise to block other players. Player involvement is good — you need to be constantly aware of what opponents have played and try to suss out their plans.
If you like hand management, set collection, and a beautiful artistic theme in a light filler game, you’ll enjoy Montmartre.
Age Range & Weight
The age range on the box is 8+ with a BGG weight of 1.67/5.00. This seems appropriate on both counts. There is nothing objectionable in this game; it is well-suited for families that would enjoy the theme.,
Montmartre is a fun, light, card game that sits perfectly in the “filler” category of complexity and play time. It’d fit easily into a backpack for play on the go. It offers sufficient decision space that it will be interesting for gamers but is also accessible for non-gamers as well.
If the theme and mechanics appeal to you, you cannot go wrong with Montmartre.
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