Ridere, ludere, hoc est vivere.

Showing posts with label Jaipur. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Jaipur. Show all posts

Friday, October 17, 2014

Top ten games that I play with my wife

Quite some time ago, Chris Norwood posted a list of his top ten games that he plays with his wife.  That list in turn was inspired by The Dice Tower podcast Episode 189, in which Tom Vasel and Eric Summerer shared their own top ten games that they play with their wives.  Those lists are both several years old, but the topic is timeless, so I thought I'd confer with my wife Kathy so that we could compile our own list.

Friday, August 12, 2011

My wife, the maharaja's personal trader - Jaipur

It was time to try out one of my acquisitions from the vendors' room at the World Boardgaming Championships, so for the last two afternoon game sessions, my wife and I have tried Jaipur (designer Sebastien Pauchon, artist Alexandre Roche, publisher Game Works).  I picked this up based largely on a Dice Hate Me review as a good candidate for a two-player game, and it has turned out to be an immediate hit with both of us.

General play description
Jaipur's card deck includes cards representing six different commodities and a number of camels.  A market in the center of the table always contains five cards in any combination of commodities and camels.  At any given time, each player has a hand of up to seven commodities and, in a face-up stack on the table, a herd of camels.  In his turn a player has may perform one action from among several options.

  • A commodity may be drawn from the market into the hand.  
  • Two or more commodities from one's hand and/or camels from one's herd may be exchanged into the market for a like number of other commodities.  
  • All of the camels from the market may be taken into his herd.
  • One or more commodity cards of a single type may be sold.
Commodities are sold for tokens.  Each type of commodity has a separate set of tokens of different values depending on the type of commodity.  When commodities are sold in larger quantities in a single sale, bonus tokens are also collected for even more value.

At the end of a round, the player with the higher number of camels gets a bonus token.  Then players total the values of all tokens collected, and the player with the higher total value wins the round.  The first player to win two rounds wins the game.

General impressions
I have to say, I like this game a lot after just two plays.  There are a few genius elements to the construct of this game.  First, for each commodity, there is one more card in the deck than there are tokens available to sell them for.  Second, the tokens for a given commodity can vary in value, with the more valuable tokens coming up later in the round.  Third, the hand size limits the degree to which a player can hoard a given commodity.  So a crucial element of the game is deciding what to collect, how long to keep collecting, and when to sell them off and free the hand.

The camels also add a decision twist to the game.  It is tempting to simply keep a majority of camels and guarantee the camel bonus token of five points, but camels are useful for exchanging into the market (if there's room in your hand for more commodities).  But putting them into the market means your opponent can take them.  Oh, the agony!

My wife Kathy has managed to win four of the five rounds we have played, which is to say that she won both games that we've played so far, one by shutout.  And not by a fixed strategy or card luck, either.  This game seems to reward strategic flexibility.  There's something to be said for accumulating leather, the most plentiful commodity, to sell five at once and pick up the big market bonus.  But diamonds, gold, and silver are so profitable that perhaps they can make up for the big bonus on leather.  And I already mentioned the agony of the camels...

I'm reminded a little of Ticket to Ride: The Card Game, from the standpoint that both players are drawing from a common pool of face up cards and trying to play combinations out of the hand to collect points.  But right now I'm thinking Jaipur is hands down the more fun game, and I'm sure we'll be playing it more soon.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Final day at WBC

Yesterday was the last day of the Boardgame Players Association's World Boardgaming Championships 2011.  A record 1642 people attended WBC this year.  I met other designers, developers, and of course many gamers, including quite a few familiar faces from PrezCon.  And of course vendors, who were good enough to thin out my wallet in exchange for a few additions to my game shelf:

(c) Worthington Games
Used by permission
I've had my eye on Tech Bubble (designer Mike Nagel, artist Sean Cooke, publisher Worthington Games) for quite a while now.  We've really enjoyed push-your-luck games like Can't Stop and Incan Gold, so what I read about Tech Bubble makes me think it will fit right in.

Some time ago I did a survey in earnest for two-player games that my wife and I would enjoy, and Jaipur (designer Sebastien Pauchon, artist Alexandre Roche, publisher GameWorks) came up pretty high on the list.  DiceHateMe had a pretty funny review last April, including the following comment that caught my attention:

  • Jaipur - while sometimes frustrating because of the luck of the draw in the Market - is incredibly fun. Why? I honestly have no idea. There are some games that, if dissected, the parts would make most game scholars scratch their heads and utter a collective “huh?” However, put those parts together and a rare synergy occurs. This is the magic of Jaipur. 

I love games like that.  I happened to see it for 20% off at the convention and picked it up.

(c) Z-man Games
Used by permission
And then I got to the Z-man booth.  As my good friend Grant G. said, "I never met a Z-man game I didn't like."  I was really hoping to find Traders of Carthage, but apparently that's been out of print for a while.  But I did find The Speicherstadt (designer Stefan Feld, publisher Z-man Games) an auction trading house game that I've had my eye on for a while but which sold out at PrezCon last February before I could make up my mind to buy it.  Luckily I wasn't so indecisive this year.

I needed even less deliberation to pick up Farmers of the Moor (designer Uwe Rosenberg), also at the Z-man booth.  This extension to one of my favorite games, Agricola, adds horses and peat to the farm.  I expect Farmers will bring a little "aroma" to our Agricola sessions.

I had, unfortunately, blown my budget by the time I got to the Stronghold Games booth, where I encountered Confusion: Espionage and Deception in the Cold War (designer Robert Abbott, publisher Stronghold Games).  Oh, baby.  The DiceHateMe review of this cloak-and-dagger deduction game really brought out the evil laugh in me.  But how do you indulge your inner spy when you've got a bag full of games already?  Well, fortunately, Keith F. felt the same Cold War nostalgia I did.  (Oh, wait, he's not nearly as old as I am ... Keith, what grade were you in when the Berlin Wall fell?)  Nevertheless, Keith picked it up, somehow confident that he'd be able to get me to play it with him a few times.

Keith, Brian, and I sat down for two last games of the weekend - Trains Planes and Automobiles and Citadels, two more games that Keith bought on my recommendation.  (What a trusting soul.)  At the last minute, as the vendors were boxing up inventory, Brian ran back and grabbed a copy of Pandemic, because Keith and I knew that he wanted to buy it; he just needed a little encouragement.

So all in all, the three of us managed to stay entertained.  We drank beer, we competed in tournaments, we played games till 2:00 in the morning, we bought bags of games ... and yet none of us went home with a plaque.  Oh, well.  There's always PrezCon.