So for my first board game review I thought I would write about a little card game that has been getting a lot of play around our house since it was purchased, this game would be Jaipur. At first glance, the game doesn’t appear to be much beyond a deck of cards and some cardboard chips. But once you get into this game, it will definitely show you that there is more here than meets the eye.
The cards themselves appear to be of some pretty good quality that should last a while, even if you do not sleeve your cards. The cardboard pieces also are nice and sturdy and should have a nice long life themselves. The art in this game is nicely done. The colors are vibrant on both the cards and the tokens and the art style easily conveys the value of each color.
The game is setup with the tokens being separated by color (or goods as how they are referred to in the manual), each pile is placed in descending order of value. There are also bonus tokens which are separated by number value which are shuffled and placed in piles in between the goods tokens. A lone camel token sits next to all the tokens waiting to see who can control the most camels at the end of a round for a few more bonus points. Three camel cards are placed face up between the players and the remaining cards are shuffled and five cards are dealt to each player. After dealing the cards, two cards are flipped over and placed next to the three camels to start the market. The remaining cards make up a draw pile which is placed between the two players. If any player is dealt a camel in their opening hand, that card can immediately be placed in front of the player in a pile making up what is referred to as this player’s herd.
The game play consists of a player making one of two actions which are the taking or selling of cards. The main object of the game is to try to sell as many of the same goods on a single turn which will net you the most tokens. If you sell more than three of any good, you then get the appropriately numbered bonus token as well. If you are going to take cards on your turn, you can either take several goods exchanging them with cards from your hand or camels from your herd, or you can also just take one single good at which time you would then just flip over one card form the draw pile. You can also decide to take all the camels in the market. If you take all the camels, keep in mind that the cards are replaced from the draw pile so you never know what you may be possibly giving your opponent a chance to obtain on their turn. The other action you can take is the selling of cards and as I stated above, the more cards of a single good you can sell at one time the better. If you are going to sell any of the three higher priced goods, being silver, gold or diamonds, you need to sell at least a minimum of two of these cards. When you sell goods, you get to take the appropriate amount of tokens from that colors token pile and if you sell three or more cards you get to take the appropriate numbered bonus token depending on how many goods you sold. There are a few things to remember in that you can never have more than seven cards in your hand at the END of you turn and you can only sell one good of any type on a turn.
A round will end when three types of goods tokens are depleted or if there are no cards left in the draw pile when trying to replenish the cards in the market. At the end of a round each player will total their tokens and the winner will receive a Seal of Excellence. The winner of the game is the first player to obtain two Seals of Excellence.
This card game may appear to be very simple but the strategy that becomes apparent after a few sessions of play becomes instantly deep. While trying to save up the higher priced goods will net you more points, sometimes waiting for those cards to come your way can give your opponent the ability to start selling lower cost items in larger quantities and obtaining the bonus tokens. Also, like I stated above, the camels can really come into play at very crucial times within the game. I have played many a game where the number of camels keeps going back and forth between the players while they try to trade for the best and costlier goods or sometimes taking a herd full of camels, is your only option. In many games I have both enjoyed the camels and despised them within the different rounds. One of the things I really enjoy about Jaipur is how easy it is to learn and how easy it is to teach. You can normally have the game setup within a few minutes and have the explanations of the rules completed in probably less than five minutes. After a new player gets a round or two under their belt, they will start to see the different types of strategy that can be used throughout the game and after playing this game for quite a while I still feel like I am trying different ideas when playing. Some of these strategies have worked quite well and others, well, let’s just say they need to be polished a little bit.
Jaipur is definitely a game that is on my What I’m Playing Now list. The game is perfectly priced for what you get within the box and this is one game that should definitely be in every gamers collection.