We developed collections of clothes for fashion shows in Prêt-à-Porter, the next game in our A-Z game shelf play-through.
Basic Info: Prêt-à-Porter
Time: 90 Minutes
Designers: Piotr Haraszczak, Ignacy Trzewiczek
Artists: Mariusz Gandzel, Maciej Janik, Tomasz Jedruszek, Mateusz Kopacz, Kwanchai Moriya, Michał Oracz, Darek Zabrocki
Publisher: Portal Games
Prêt-à-Porter is a worker placement game where players are building up an empire with stores and outlets, employees, and contracts to help them dominate the fashion industry. Players work through a year in the fashion world, each month either upgrading their capabilities, collecting new designs and amassing materials to make clothes or competing in a fashion show with a collection that will be judged on some combination of trend, quality, public relations and number of pieces. Whoever can best conquer those fashion shows and make the most money will win.
The game is set up with the board in the center of the table, and the various tokens placed nearby. The level X, XI, and XII cards of the building, contract, and employee deck are set aside for the last rounds of the game, and the rest are shuffled and placed on their respective spots on the board. The fashion show judging tokens are shuffled and placed in their spots on the board.
Each player takes the player mat, acton pawns, upkeep markers, and victory point marker in their chosen color and 40 cash. They also take a random clothing type token, which will define their trend specialty for the game, and the starting design cards that go with that token. Then the remaining design cards are shuffled and placed on the board. The building, contract, employee and design markets are filled with cards from their associated decks, location 9 is set up with its tokens, and the calendar marker placed on round I. Then play begins.
The game is played in rounds of different types: Working Rounds and Exhibition Rounds. During the Working Rounds, players first take turns placing their action pawns on the board, but they don’t take the actions until all of the pawns have been placed. Then players go through the board from Location 1 to 9 in order, with each player taking their actions in the order their pawns appear at those locations.
Location 1 allows players to take a loan. Locations 2-4 are where players add contracts, buildings and employees to their empire. Buildings will have an up-front cost and both buildings and employees have an ongoing cost during each upkeep phase. Location 5 is where players take new designs. Locations 6-8 allow players to purchase the supplies to make their designs. And Location 9 has a few bonus resources.
Following the action phase, players have a chance to upgrade one of their buildings and/or employees — this will have an immediate cost and an ongoing upkeep, but will give the player some additional benefits. Then there is an upkeep phase where players must pay employees, pay upkeep, and may collect various benefits from their employees and buildings. After two Working Rounds, there is an Exhibition Round.
During the Exhibition round, players first turn in any prestige tokens for points at an exchange rate based on player count. Then they choose which designs they’ll present in the show – these all must be the same style (which is indicated by the background color of the card and an icon), and they must have the materials shown on each card in order to make it. Players then assess the collections and tokens they’ve accumulated during the previous two working rounds based on that show’s criteria, which can include quality, PR, trend, and number of pieces — taking prestige tokens for any categories they win or place in, according to player count. At the end of the exhibition, players sell the collections they showed, discard all of their tokens (except prestige) and go through another upkeep phase.
After the fourth Exhibition Round (at the end of a year), players sell off their prestige tokens for points one last time, and then tally up their points and money. The player with the highest score, wins!
I picked up Prêt-à-Porter when the reprint went to Kickstarter a few years ago. I love the idea of fashion as a theme in a game — not because I’m super into fashion, but I do sew and fashion is a theme that is under used in games. Add in that this is not a light game, and I was all in.
I really like the worker placement mechanism in this game where you place all of your workers and then go through the board and activate them. This adds another dimension to worker placement that forces players to decide not only how important a space is, but how important it is to be there first.
So far I’ve mostly played this as a 2-player game, and we’ve often had a runaway leader problem. Part of that is that my spouse needs to be less shy about taking on debt for his fledgling company. However, the one 3-player game we played felt a lot different, since there were more of us vying over the available spots on the board. I’m looking forward to trying the more.
How is it as a 2-player game? Prêt-à-Porter plays well as a two-player game; although it is much tighter at three. We’ve also had a runaway leader problem with our two-player games, but it’s not clear if that’s the players or the game.
How about the art and component quality? The art is great in this game — I like the various fashion designs and how they’re highlighted differently whether the piece is a dress, pants, or shoes. We haven’t swapped in any of the alternate art from the Kickstarter yet, but I think we will with subsequent plays. And the components are amazing with chunky cardboard bits and wooden materials. In fact, the money tokens make a very satisfying clinking sound when you pile them up and rifle through them. I would expect nothing less from a Kickstarter, of course, but everything here seems purposeful and not overly bloated just for the sake of the Kickstarter.
Will this stay in my collection? Absolutely. We are looking forward to exploring Prêt-à-Porter further!