On Wednesday, February 15th, we posted our Valentine's Day Special: 2 Player Games, our first ever video and a quick introduction to some of our favorite 2-player board and card games. Due to timing and health issues, the video was released late and no written reviews were given for the games. We are taking the time to remedy that with these 2 Player Games: Revisited posts.
Jaipur (2009) (BGG Link) - 2-player, card drafting, hand management, set collection
Designer: Sébastien Pauchon
Artist: Alexandre Roche
Number of Players: 2
Playing time: 30 minutes
On board game forums I frequented, Jaipur was often touted as one of the best 2-player card games available. It has fallen a little out of favor as newer games have appeared, but it still ranks up there as one of my favorite little 2-player games. When learning Jaipur, the game plays out slowly as you're trying to figure out what moves are allowed or not ("So I can take one card, but if I want more than one I have to... what? And camels do what exactly?). But once you're familiar with the game, it becomes a quick back-and-forth between players as you try to grab the goods you need and sell them off before your opponent does.
In Jaipur, you have 5 cards laid out in front of both players. This acts as the "market," and each opponent begins with their own hand of cards. All camels are placed in front of them in a "herd": camels are used to trade for other goods, and whoever has the most at the end of the game gets a bonus. On their turn, each player may do one of the following:
- Take one non-camel card from the market.
- Take all of the camels from the market (you can't take just one).
- Trade camels in your herd and cards in your hand for market cards (has to be more than one).
- "Sell" goods from your hand by discarding them and taking the appropriate amount of chips (these represent the points and money acquired).
- If you sell three, four, five, or more of a good, you get to take a random bonus chip that gives you extra points at the end of the game.
There are a few random rules here and there that should be acknowledged: for the "wealthier" items (gold, silver, and jewels), you can't sell unless you're selling at least two of them. Also, your hand size (not counting camels) is always at 7, so you can't hoard cards. This means that, eventually, you'll end up giving your opponent a slight edge if you keep waiting for just one more stupid jewel card, why won't it just appear??? The game ends when three of the six goods stacks are depleted, or if the deck runs out. Points are tallied, and a winner is declared. The game is played best out of three rounds.
Jaipur offers a few interesting choices: do you wait to sell that piece so you can sell more at once and get a bonus, or do you do it now so you can get the piece with the most points? Do you get all of the camels that are available in the market? Because if you do, you'll leave a lot of options open for your opponent. It's usually wise to try and go for the higher-point goods, but it's much easier to collect four or more cheaper items like leather, and those bonus chips you get for selling multiple items are no joke. As the game draws near the end, you'll need to make a choice between holding off to possibly gain more points, or to try and end the round earlier to keep your opponent from catching up.
Jaipur comes in a neat little box that holds the contents fairly well, but I've been able to fit it into a little deck box for easier travel. I've been told that some people have been able to play it on a plane, but I find that hard to believe. space is needed to spread the cards out and to have room for the chips, but even then this doesn't require that much table space (just a bit more than an airplane folding tray can offer).
Jaipur is a bright and colorful trading game that is a blast to play and a perennial favorite in our home. Like many of the games we've talked about today, it's not overly intense and doesn't necessarily offer a deep, thematic experience, but it offers a nice little trading game that almost plays as a tug-of-war, where the winner isn't necessarily obvious until the very end. Of all the games mentioned today and in our Valentine's Day Special, it's probably my favorite, and the one I'm most excited to share with new players.