A common question asked by the board game community is “what two-player games would you recommend?” Well it’s a question that we have asked too. Jaipur is a two-player only game that has accompanied us on many vacations.
Jaipur - The Game
In Jaipur you are aiming to become the Maharaja’s personal trader by collecting and exchanging a range of goods at the common market. The goods form a deck of cards which also include the iconic Camel cards, which come in very handy too.
How it Plays
Following a simple two minute set-up, a player can do one of just two things on their turn - making gameplay very simple. A player may take cards (from the face up market) or sell cards (from their hand).
When taking cards, a player may take just one single good (one card), take several goods (these must be exchanged for in-hand cards, camels or both) or take all the camels; camels are the key to this game and if played correctly will give a player an excellent chance of victory. Oh, and don’t forget to spot the hidden Panda hitching a ride on one of the camels!
When selling cards a player selects one type of good, of which there are six, and discards as many of those goods cards as they wish to earn their value. Discard three to five cards and receive a Brucy Bonus of between one and 10 points, provided there are bonus tokens remaining.
When goods are sold a player takes the top most token from the goods’ stack (the first ones sold are worth more). A round ends when three stacks of goods are depleted or when the deck has been diminished.
Scoring is also a simple process. Players add up the VP values of each good sold and add on any bonuses that were collected. In addition, and often the deciding factor, is a 5VP reward for the player with the most camels. Scores are often close in each round and as a result we often add up the VPs from the goods and then reveal the bonus values one at a time for a bit of suspense during scoring!
Jaipur is meant to be played as a best of three with each round taking only 10 minutes to play.
Final Thoughts on Jaipur
I highly recommend Jaipur as a two-player game fit for any collection, if only for the panda!
Each round plays quickly due to the simplicity of gameplay but add to this the need to keep an eye on what your opponent draws and you will have full player engagement throughout.
Most of the interaction is between a player and the market, but you do have to keep a watch on what your opponent does with their goods.
The question is; Do you trade three cards or wait until you collect five for a better bonus? This risk will be integral to your gameplay. There is a small element of luck with the bonuses but they are generally spread fairly. Another strategy will be to collect the less common but more valuable goods and of course getting them to market first. This gives the process of set collection an element of push your luck and this works very well in Jaipur.
For a seasoned gamer the best tactics are learnt quickly and even with an element of luck, if you know what you are doing and are playing a novice it is pretty easy to win. I certainly recommend this as a game for two players of equal ability and Jaipur can certainly be a gateway game.
The artwork, important to so many gamers, is very good, although each goods type has the same art. It is intricate and definitely in keeping with the cultural theme. Oh, did I mention that there is a Panda too?! Other components are very simple with chits forming the goods tokens each with the same pattern identifying the good type.
Each time you play Jaipur you will identify a new tactic but a little hint from yours truly? Remember the value of the Camels!!