This week’s backpack pick is Jaipur from Game Works.
Designer Sebastien Pauchon challenges us in Jaipur to become the Maharaja’s personal trader in this 2-player trading game. The main objective is to be the richer trader at the end of each week (round) and receive a Seal of Excellence. The first player to collect 2 of those Seals is the winner. The way to become rich is to collect and exchange goods cards at the market and then sell them for rupees. If you can work out a really good deal, you will receive extra rewards. The game also has camels in it……The camels can be used to exchange for multiple goods at the market or collected to try to earn extra points.
Setup for the game is quick and easy. First, place 3 camel cards face up between the 2 players. Next shuffle the remaining cards and and deal 5 cards to each player to form their starting hands. Place the remaining cards face down in between the players to form a draw pile. Draw the top two cards from the deck and place them face up next to the camels. These five cards now form the market. Players look at their hand of cards and remove any camels from their hands and place them face up in a stack in front of them. This forms the player’s herd.
Next, sort all of the tokens by goods types and make a pile of each good item in descending order so that each value on the tokens can be seen by the players. Separate the bonus tokens by type, shuffle each type separately and place in stacks near the good tokens. Place the camel token next to the bonus tokens. The tokens are arranged according to an illustration in the rule book. The Three Seals of Excellence are placed where the players can get to them.
Game Play…..Mechanics are SIMPLE. You can either Take cards or Sell Cards…..never both. If you choose to take cards you have three options: 1) take 1 single good from the market and place into your hand and replace the taken card with the top card of the draw deck. 2) take all of the camels from the market and add them to your herd and then replace the cards taken by drawing cards from the deck. 3) Take several goods which is an exchange. Take all the goods cards that you want into your hand (minimum of 2) and exchange the same number of cards either from your hand, your camel herd or a combination of both. At the end of your turn you may never have more than 7 cards in your hand. This the way you collect sets of cards in order to sell them for rupees.
The other action you can take is to sell cards. To sell cards choose one type of good and discard as many cards of that type as you like. Take as many tokens of that good type as cards discarded starting with the highest value token. If you sell 3 or more goods take the corresponding bonus token and place it in front of you face down. DO NOT LOOK at the bonus token until the end of the round. NOTE: When selling the 3 most expensive goods: silver, gold, and diamonds the sale must include a minimum of 2 cards. You can only sell one goods type each turn.
The end of the round is triggered immediately in either of two ways: There types of goods tokens are depleted or there are no cards left in the draw pile when trying to fill the market. At the end of the round move to scoring. The person with the most camels in their herd gains the camel token. Reveal any bonus tokens and then add up the total value of all of the tokens gained. The player with the higher total. That player is the richest and takes a Seal of Excellence. In the case of a tie, the player with the most bonus tokens takes the seal. If there is still a tie, the player with the most goods tokens takes the seal.
If neither player has 2 Seals of Excellence, set up the game again from the beginning and play a new round. The player who lost the previous round starts. The player who gains 2 Seals of Excellence wins the game and is appointed as the Maharaja’s personal trader.
This is a fast-paced lighter-style strategic card game. The main mechanics are set collection and hand management. But there is also a bit of risk management when it comes to your turn…Do you sell goods now or try to gain more of the same type to get a bigger bonus? But if you wait…what happens if your opponent sells the same type of goods before you and nets the higher value tokens? When you take cards…..do you take all of the camels and risk a number of diamond cards show up? These are the questions you ask as you play Jaipur. Make sure to watch what cards your opponents takes to see what he/she is collecting. Collect those cards too and sell them first! Use your camels to get the goods you want. The game is a lot of fun with excellent artwork on the tokens and the cards. The insert in the box holds everything nicely and the game is very compact to take with you. The game does take up a little bit of space due to the market and room needed in front of each player, but it can be played at a smaller table. This game does a good job of implementing the set collection mechanic with the bonus tokens. This helps balance the game out in case a player decides to sell only a couple of goods of each type to skim the high value ones off of the top rather than working out a larger deal. Besides being a fun game with good strategy, the best part is the rules are simple and you are up and playing within a few minutes. This game can easily be played on a lunch break if you are pressed for time. High praise for this game. Get your copy today. #backpackpick