Manufacturer: Game Works
Designer: Sébastien Pauchon
I am a humble man, I do not live beyond my means, I carry my goods with a meager herd of 5 camels to save on food costs. So would you believe that I’m the richest man here? You can talk all you want of those merchants wearing their jewel-encrusted gold and silver, but they only have that on loan, everything is for sale with them, they own nothing. And while they sell their expensive items to the three people in town that can afford it I’m selling cloth to those who need to be clothed, spices to every restaurant with lackluster meat, and leather to the tanners. I brave the sights and smells of the locals and I come out on top. Those men in their fancy coats and jewellery are all so smug, but I’ll have earned enough to retire in a year, and when I get to spend the rest of my adult life with my wife and children, they’ll see who is the richest man here!
Jaipur is a 2-player set-collecting card game in which you trade for goods before selling them. Bonuses are awarded for collecting big sets, but also for selling early so you have to get a fine balance between trying to play quickly and trying to get the big bonus points.
You start the game with 5 cards in your hand each and a further 5 cards in the open market. If any cards in your hand are camels then you must play them immediately into your herd, all goods you can keep for selling. Each turn you can do 1 action out of a few options, you can take 1 goods card from the market, you can take multiple goods cards from the market, but then you must replace them with other goods cards from your hand or with Camels from your herd. You can take all of the camels from the central market and add them to your herd. Whenever you take a single good or some camels you leave open spaces in the market that are filled with new cards from the deck, giving your opponent first pick. Finally you can sell cards, when you do so all the cards you sell must be of the same type.
|The game set up to play with stacks of bonus chips/goods chips on the left and a central market. The market always starts the game with 3 camels and 2 goods showing.|
Once you have enough cards that you want to sell you can use a sell action to do so, each good type has a range of chips which are stacked with the most valuable at the top and least valuable at the bottom. Selling the first piece of leather gets you 4 points, but the last 6 only get you 1! You also get a bonus chip depending on how many of the good you sold. Selling a single or two of a kind gets you nothing, but if you sell 3, 4, or 5 then you get the corresponding bonus chips, the more you sell at once the more points the chips are worth. The rarer goods (gold, silver and gems) must be sold at least in pairs which means that selling enough to reduce the pile to 1 chip can make that good quite off-putting. Even if you sell goods when there aren’t enough chips you still get the bonus chip, so if you sold 5 leather with only 2 chips left you’d only get 2 points for the leather, but you’d get up to 10 from the 5 items bonus chip.
|The bonus chips and some of their points values, 10 points for selling 5 of a kind can really swing the game.|
A round ends when either 3 stacks of good chips have run out or when the entire deck of goods has run dry, at this point you add up the points from your chips, a bonus 5 point chip goes to the player with the most camels in their herd, and a further bonus of 0 points, but a moral victory, goes to the player with the ‘panda camel’. You’ll understand when you see it! The game is typically played to the best of 3 rounds, but each round is pretty fast-paced (~10 minutes) which probably gives a total play time of around 45 mins including set up between rounds.
Jaipur is a relatively quick and portable game, though it does demand a fair amount of table space once it is all laid out. There can be a fair amount of luck in the game, but as you play 3 rounds this does tend to even out. Sometimes it can seem too easy for someone to horde all the camels, though this usually means that they aren’t utilizing them very effectively. I can’t really say that much against this game, sure there is a slight lack of depth, but that’s what you get with quick portable games. Like many set-collecting games you do need to shuffle very well between rounds to prevent sets from remaining together, but that’s nothing new either. I would really recommend Jaipur for most people who are looking for a good 2-player game.