Jaipur is a simplistic buying and selling game for 2 players, with a push your luck element. The game sees players taking up the roles of hopeful market traders. These traders drop camels off at market, obtain and sell goods and try to become the Maharaja’s best trader. Each week (round) players attempt to accumulate the most wealth, vying for attention of the Maharaja. If they are the best they win the round, claiming the Maharaja’s seal and the first trader to collect two seals wins the game.
So how do you play the game and collect all this wealth? Setting up the game players remove 3 camel cards from the deck, shuffle the remaining cards. Flip the top 2 cards over alongside the 3 camels to create a central market of 5 cards. Goods tokens are placed in descending order next to the market. Finally, the bonus tokens are split into 3/4/5 good bonus piles, each being separately shuffled and placed next to the Goods tokens. Players are then dealt 5 cards from the deck, removing any camel cards from their hand and placing their new herd in front of them. The game is then ready to play with the centre market and players hands complete.
On a given go, players can either buy or sell. Buying allows you to gain goods or camels from the market. There are three types of buying. You can take a single good from the market and replace it from the deck. Take multiple cards from the market and replace it with an equal number of cards; made up of any mixture of cards in your hand and camels you have collected. The final buy ability lets a player take all the camels from the market replacing them with cards from the deck.
Selling is where you start scoring points and watching the money roll in! There are 6 types of goods, 3 expensive (diamonds, gold and silver) and 3 inexpensive (cloth, spice and leather). When a player trades in a set of matching cards, they discard the set and take the same number of matching good tokens (if possible). On top of this, if trading in 3 or more matching goods at once they take the top most 3/4/5 bonus token.
The trick here is that the first few tokens of each good earn more points. Players can try to swiftly sell off goods in the first few rounds to claim the top scoring tokens or wait it out until when they can sell a set and get a bonus token. When trading in there is a minimum of 1 card for the three inexpensive goods or a minimum of 2 for the expensive goods but goods have to be identical not just inexpensive or expensive. This stops players simply selling a single card of diamonds, gold and silver, early on making them even more valuable when they appear in the market.
One final way of scoring is to have the largest camel collection at the end of a round which scores a moderate 5 points. While this is okay points wise, camels are great to be used to as almost the joker card, as they can be traded in to the market for multiple cards obtaining sets to sell for points. All elements of Jaipur require some sort of trade off and when you are willing to hold onto cards or sell quick for some easy points.
The rulebook lays out the two actions available to players, with quick examples which removes any doubt from players minds of what they can do. I say rulebook, I should say rulebooks as included in the box by default are 4 rulebooks: English, German, Spanish and French. Learning to play and setup will take around 5 minutes for the first time you play Jaipur. Afterwards the setup should take around a minute tops: which is necessary as between rounds you actually set the game up again each time.
Some gamers will look at Jaipur and shun the game for it’s simple mechanics. However, this is exactly what makes Jaipur such a great game to play. The game is best three rounds, with individual rounds taking around 5 – 10 minutes. Due to the actions being kept basic, the goods are swiftly collected and sold, while camels bounce backwards and forwards from one player to the market to the other throughout the game. This makes Jaipur perfect for when you want a quick game of something be that of an evening, in your lunchbreak at work or to warm up before a longer board game.
Jaipur is great for introducing new players to the hobby. So much so that at times I’d love to be able to play with more than 2 players. Alas, I am well aware how well balanced the game it for 2 players so this just isn’t possible. The concepts of whom can trade in first, or whom waits for the bigger price, is so drilled deep into the mechanics of scoring that a third player would ruin this. It would just be great to be able to get it on the table when more than two players are up for a game of something.
Following on the ‘keeping things simple’ approach is the artwork. Not in the way that the art of the cards is anything short of stunning and vibrant, more it is great at keeps things instantly recognisable. It would have been nice to see some more slight variations between the goods cards, like the camel card for instance which has an additional item in its satchel. I suggest this as it would preserve the overall look of the card, maintaining the glanceability of each card type, whilst adding the small flavour to each individual card.
Overall, Jaipur is a great game for 2 players both new to the realms of board games and those whom are simply looking for a not overly taxing competitive experience. If you’re looking for a new game to last an entire evening Jaipur isn’t the sort of game you’re after. It fits nicely as a warm up game, a quick lunchtime game of something or a game to relax to while playing of an evening. The small compact box that the game comes in allows for extremely easy transportation so you can take Jaipur with you. Most importantly, this is the sort of games you’ll want to take with you to play over and over again.
[Editor’s Note: Jaipur was provided to us by Esdevium Games for review purposes. Jaipur is currently available from 365 Games for £17.99]