When it comes to two-player card games, Jaipur is up there with the very best of them. It has elements of hand-management and set collection and you’ll need to remember what your opponent has picked up – testing your memory skills – if you’re looking to really excel here.
Jaipur, affectionately known as the Pink City, is the capital of the Indian state of Rajasthan. Here you and another player are two of the city’s most powerful merchants, competing to acquire goods such as the more common (and less valuable) leather, as well as the rare (and therefore more treasured) silver, gold or diamonds.
But acquiring them alone is not going to score you points. You have to sell them – and sell them fast, before their value dips – because your opponent is racing to do the same thing! But you also might want to hang onto your cards, because the larger amount you sell at once, the higher chance you have of collecting an additional bonus. It’s this balancing act of greed versus investment, risk versus reward, that really drives the game.
On your turn you can take the bright, vivid cards from the face-up flop (the ‘market’) in a variety of ways or sell sets of matching cards – but not both. Whatever happens, the market must always be stocked with five cards at the end of your turn – you either have to give back cards from your hand, or replenish it from the draw pile, rules differing depending on how many cards you acquired.
Instead of taking cards, you can sell one type of goods per turn. There are corresponding scoring chips for each good type, worth descending amounts of points. When you sell, say, purple silk cards, you’ll take the top number of purple silk chips equal to the number of cards you just sold. These points will count towards your total at the end of the round. If you sell three, four or five of a kind, you’ll collect an additional bonus, its exact value only revealed to you. When it comes to selling silver, gold and diamonds, players have to sell at least two at a time.
The round ends when either three different types of good tokens have all been claimed, or when the market cannot be replenished from the exhausted draw pile. Jaipur lasts three rounds, with scoring at the end of each. The winner will be the first player to win two rounds outright, and will receive the honour of being invited into the Maharaja’s court!
This really is a superb game in a little box from GameWorks. With games lasting only 30 minutes (so about 10 minutes per round), you’ll find yourself reaching for Jaipur again and again. We love how you can, to a certain extent, manipulate the market with regards to what options you leave your opponent. And the secret scoring bonuses? What a way to claim a glorious victory!
Player Count: 2
Time: 30 Minutes
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!!