| April 4th 2016 |Thanks for checking out my blog. I have a new, much better looking version of this review here: http://www.boardgamebarker.com/blog/2015/12/28/jaipur
I do a lot of two player gaming and the biggest problem I have is that games get boring. You can help this by getting games that scale well with more than 2 players, my problem is that usually involves a longer setup and cleanup time and honestly games meant for 2 players tend to be better 2 player games. Jaipur doesn't just back that statement up, it is the reason it exists. If there is a two player game I can't get bored of it is Jaipur. Below I will cover how to play Jaipur, my thoughts on it and why it is my favourite two player.
Your goal in Jaipur is to get the most points through selling various goods. Depending on how many times each particular good has been sold that round it is worth a decreasing amount of points. At the end of the round, the player with the most points wins and the first player to win two rounds is declared the winner.
First take 3 camels out of the deck
Then shuffle the deck deal 5 cards to each player and 2 cards to the 3 set aside pile containing the 3 camels
Turn the 5 set aside cards (3 camels, 2 randoms) face up in a line between the players, this creates the 'Market'
Sort all of the tokens by type and create a stack of each product in descending order of value
On your turn you will select only one of the following actions
Take Card - This allows you to take one product of your choice from the available 5 face up cards in the middle of the table, alternatively you may take all of the camel cards that are currently face up. Before the next player takes his turn you must refill the Market back up to 5 cards.
Swap Cards - This allows you to swap a minimum of two cards from your hand (any combination of products and camels from your camel pile is allowed) with an equal number of cards face up in the middle of the table. You are not allowed to swap a card for the same type of card and you can never have more than 7 cards in your hand.
Sell Product - This action allows you to sell product, selling multiples of 3,4 or 5 will earn you a bonus token (explained below), you may sell any number of cards at a time unless they are Rubies / Gold or Silver, you must sell a minimum of 2 of these products. Each card you sell earns you the top token of the corresponding product.
Selling 3, 4 or 5 of a product will award you with a bonus token. The value of your bonus token is somewhat random, 3 of a kind will net you 1,2 or 3 points. Selling 4 of a kind will award you with 4,5 or 6 bonus points and selling 5 of a kind will give you a 8,9 or 10 point token.
End of Round Scoring:
The round ends once 3 goods have been entirely depleted or you are unable to fill the set of 5 face up cards in the middle of the table. (Market)
Players add up the value of all their goods tokens and their bonus tokens then the player with the most camels is awarded the camel token worth 5 points, the player with the higher total wins the round, the first player to win two rounds is declared the winner.
Okay, this might not seem like a masterpiece but you will only discover how great Jaipur is if you try it. Jaipur is not only my favourite 2 player game, but one of my favourite games overall. This is because I love games that take 5 minutes to learn but a lot longer to master, the rules in Jaipur present a pretty straightforward game heavily laced with luck. In fact one of the few criticizes I hear of Jaipur is that it is too luck dependent. Well I call bullshit, sure there is a lot of luck involved in Jaipur, but really the game is about minimizing the effects luck will have on you through clever timing.
You will do this by keeping a close eye on your opponent, paying as much attention to what cards they are collecting as what cards you are collecting. You will have to perfectly balance scoring points and screwing up your opponent, the only problem is that every decision you make will benefit your opponent or hinder yourself in some way shape or form. This is intensified by the fact that you can only do 1 action on your turn. You have to plan a few turns in advance but by that time so many things could have changed, your opponent could have sold some of that good, there could be better goods for sale, you could have acquired a better product in a move that was too good to pass up. Since each game is technically 2 or 3 plays I have probably played 100ish times and I can say that no more than 5 of those games have been lost outright due to luck. It can happen, but most likely you will lose to being outplayed or making a couple mistakes. Timing is the most important aspect of Jaipur, when you decide to do which action will determine who wins or loses.
Here is what I mean by benefiting your opponent or hindering yourself:
Taking: If you take just 1 card, a better card could be turned up for your opponent, you are also spending your entire turn to take just 1 card, good if its a high value card not so much if its a low value. Taking 1 low value card might be better than taking multiple camels in some cases.
Swapping: If you swap a cheap good such as leather for a better good you are making it easier for your opponent to get a bonus token and you are not gaining new cards this turn but rather upgrading in value or getting your own bonus token, this means that if your opponent spends less total actions swapping, they will have more cards than you.
Swapping: If you swap a medium priced good for a better good, you are making a decent option available for your opponent that might not have been before, this can really suck if there are still high value tokens of that good or they already have a couple of that particular good. Just like above, you are losing out on gaining more cards.
Taking Camels: If you take camels you must take them all, taking 1 or 2 camels is not really worth it in terms of getting the camel token or having significant trading power but taking 4 or 5 gives your opponents lots of new card options, keep in mind that they can trade a combination of their goods AND camels in order to get these newly available cards at the market. You are also taking something that is not worth physical points (you cant sell camels)
Using Camels: When you use your camels, you are lowering your chance of getting the camel token, you are giving up some of your ability to adapt and in the long run replenish your hand after you sell most of your cards. Make sure you have a few goods in your hand or you will not be able to take advantage of a fresh market if your opponent takes the camels after you use them.
Selling just 1 card: You are stopping your opponent from getting the higher valued token but giving up the opportunity for a bonus token yourself, you will never score double digit points this way and you are giving your opponent free pick of the market. This can either encourage your opponent to collect a set of that good or ditch any they had making it easier for you to collect a set, this can also force your opponent to take a card or camels leaving the market open for you. This becomes a significantly less "good" option later in the game unless lots of the expensive goods have already been sold.
Selling Multiple Cards: You have probably gained a sizable balance of points and maybe even a bonus token, but how many turns did it take total to gather and collect the store of goods, if you focus one collecting one type at a time you are vulnerable to your opponent sniping the high valued or gaining better cards themselves, they can also score lots of points while you are trying to collect a set, if you focus on two types you could be stuck in a situation where you have to make a set available at the market in order to finish your other set. When and how you decide to collect a set is very important.
Two things to keep in mind, one of them I mentioned before:
You can swap a combination of Camels AND Goods when acquiring new goods from the market.
You MUST swap 2 cards, you cannot swap 1 for 1.
Who would enjoy Jaipur?
Casual Gamers: The rules are simple enough to learn in a couple minutes and you can jump right into playing, because it is played out of 3 rounds it has an addicting feel. Jaipur is not too heavy and not too light and a must have two player, playing doesn't take long and most importantly Jaipur is fun. You can teach Jaipur to just about anyone and the theme is fun, trading in gold and rubies is far more exciting than what most people do on the average day.
Gamer Gamers: For anyone that does serious two player gaming this is the perfect game for you, every turn matters and you can easily mess with someones plan. Jaipur is a great game if you are the type of person who enjoys keeping a close eye on your opponent and making tactical decisions. After a few plays you will start to really have fun with Jaipur, I am very impressed with the amount of different strategies compared to most other 2 player games.