FTW Staff Picks - Jaipur

For The Win Board Game Cafe's Staff Picks is a weekly series where we take a quick look at some of the staff's favourite games, old and new. 

Jaipur

Genre: Hand Management

Designer: Sébastien Pauchon

Player Size: 2 Players

Game Length: 30 minutes

For fans of: Lost City: Card Game, Splendor, Ticket to Ride

When it comes to mindshare among 2-player tabletop games, the one game I will always immediately think of is Jaipur. A merchanting game to test your trading abilities, Jaipur is a test of two minds to see who can come out with the most value for their goods. With an easy-to-understand rulebook, the game is targeted to be playable for even younger audiences.

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In Jaipur, players duel to see who can earn 2 Seals of Approval by exchanging their goods for points. To begin each round, players are dealt a hand of 5 cards. Goods tokens are organized in descending order, so that the top of the stacks are the highest values. Five cards are drawn to form the Market. On the active player’s turn they may choose to do one of 4 actions: take a card from the market, take all Camels from the market, exchange cards with the market or sell cards for tokens. When selling cards, the player earns as many tokens as cards they sell. They may only sell one type of good at a time. Anytime 3 or more goods are sold, the player also receives a bonus token. When 3 stacks of tokens have been depleted or the Market cannot be replenished, the round is over. Players count their tokens to see who has the highest value. A bonus 5 points are awarded to the player with the most Camels at the end of the round. The player with the highest value receives a Seal of Approval. The game is reset for another round until one player claims 2 Seals of Approval. That player is then declared the winner!

Jaipur is a game of inches. It’s a game where the result will often be decided by 5 or less points. This puts a great emphasis on mistakes. If you take a risk and it blows up in your face, it will often seal your fate. The best-2-out-of-3 format helps to keep flukes from determining the winner. The skill ceiling is not very high, but that helps to keep things balanced when a savvy gamer goes up against someone still learning. That may not be a positive thing for some people, but it’s nice to have a kind of handicap to equalize things.

I think Jaipur is a game that will withstand any competition looking to enter the 2-player genre of games. It’s a game that rarely garners a negative reaction. Most of the people we’ve recommended it to love it, and sometimes even end up leaving with their own copy. The best part about Jaipur is it makes for an excellent gateway to games like Ticket to Ride and Splendor. It has that same style of gameplay where a player is given a few options, but can only take one each turn - making each turn feel meaningful. For many people Jaipur was and likely will be their entry into the world of tabletop gaming.

Earl OliverosComment