I think smell is my favorite sense. Whenever I walk past a candle section of a store, I am almost guaranteed to be stuck there for five to ten minutes, smelling every option. And I am a big fan of colognes. I don’t really know much about tones and combinations of fragrances and stuff, but I do love finding new colognes to try. I even signed up for ScentBird to try out a new cologne each month. But never in my interest in cologne have I thought, “Man, I really wish there was a board game about this!”
Parfum, therefore, fills a hole in my gaming collection I didn’t even know I had. You and up to three other players will be working to collect ingredients, create parts of perfumes, and sell their wares to different customers at the highest price. Sound boring? Well, what if I told you that this is an incredibly solid game that often sells for less than ten bucks? Have I got your attention now?
What Is That Wonderful Aroma?
Players take on the role of perfumers seeking to create the most wonderful fragrances they can. This isn’t going to be your Walmart brand concoctions that make you a little nauseous. These are high-quality ingredients! Players start each round by selecting turn order from last to first place. If you choose to go earlier, you’ll get the first opportunity to obtain the perfume ‘notes’ that are laid out each round that you’ll later use to create perfumes. However, the earlier you go, the fewer actions you get to take.
The bulk of a player’s turn is spent acquiring dice that represent different aromas like vanilla and lavender. Dice are then rolled as part of the ‘distilling process’, and successful rolls (represented by perfume bottles) provide a player with the opportunity to obtain fragrance notes.
Each note features one or more of the different aromas and represents the top, middle, or bottom notes of a perfume. Players can create small or large bottles (depending on whether or not they use the middle notes) by assembling the notes together to create the image of a bottle. When a player finishes a perfume, they get some little flacon meeples which represent inventory that they can sale in the next round.
Players try to sell to a variety of customers who are looking for all different kinds of aromas in their fragrances. The more complex the scent, the more money you’ll make. If you’re not able to find a customer, you can also sell your wares in the bargain bin at a greatly discounted price.
Play continues until you run out of fragrance notes or until you reach a certain tile in the customer pile, at which point the final round is played. The player who has the most money at the end of the game wins!
A Low Price, But Not That Cheap Stuff
When talking about Parfum, I feel like you must do so in the context of the price. As I said, this game only costs a Hamilton. Other games you’re buying at that level would be stuff like Love Letter or Zombie Dice – minimal components, very simple rules. Parfum is more on the level of your standard board game. It reminds me a lot of Fresco, a game that is triple its price.
The game has plenty of solid components, featuring artwork that really lends itself to the theme. You’ve also got nice meeples that are shaped like little perfume bottles, and a quality cloth bag that holds all your different fragrance notes.
The gameplay takes a while to explain, but players will get the hang of it pretty quickly. There can be a bit of analysis paralysis at times, as players work to make sure they get the aromas they want to make perfumes that will appeal to the customers that are available that round. However, since players go one at a time, you can plan out most of what you want to do while the players ahead of you take their turn.
Parfum does have a problem where it feels like you have just gotten going with the game ends. In our playthroughs, we never finished more than about 3 bottles of perfume, which means that you don’t get all that many points. Perhaps I just have a different expectation of what I should be able to do, but I always felt like I just didn’t get enough done. At the same time, I feel like if the game went much longer, it would wear out its welcome. Maybe some slight adjustments to what you could do on turns would help, but maybe it’s just that I need to get over it and make as much perfume as I can.
Leaves You Smelling Fresh
I can’t emphasize enough what a value Parfum is. With so many quality components and some somewhat hefty mechanics, it’s amazing what you’re getting for ten bucks. I’m not saying you should spend money just for the sake of spending money. But what I am saying is that if you appreciate board games and you’re planning on doing some major Amazon shopping this holiday season, you should consider throwing this into your cart. You’ll have a good time for a price lower than escape room games like Unlock!, and you’ll be able to play this one again! So get your nose ready, and get ready to sniff your way to victory with Parfum.
Man, I’ve got to do better with these puns.
You can find Parfum on Amazon.
- Great components for the price
- Solid mechanics that allow for the use of dice without everything being about luck
- Game lacks the depth some gamers are looking for
- Takes some time to explain the rules