Jaipur was recommended to me via a twitter pal and I’m so glad he mentioned it because I really enjoyed playing it. I should also say that I enjoyed playing it despite LOSING the first 4 rounds – but I almost came back to win a best of 13 round series but sadly lost the last round by 1 point. I always say, if you can enjoy a game even when you’re losing it must be a good game.
How to Play
Jaipur is a 2 player-card and chip game that takes less than 30 minutes to play (even fewer when you get the hang of it). The goal is to become the “Maharaja’s personal trader” by being richer than your opponent at the end of each round. Basically, if you collect more points you win a round. Win 2 rounds out of 3 and you win the game (or you can do what I did and just keep playing rounds until you’ve got somewhere else to be!)
On one side of the table you’re going to set up all of the tokens. There are 6 different colored tokens that represent the items you’re trading at the market: Diamonds, Gold, Silver, Cloth, Spice and Leather. The tokens are all numbered and you stack each color from lowest to highest (with highest on top) so the player who collects that color token first will get the highest number of points. There are also bonus tokens for anytime you sell 3 or more cards at once and a camel token. The deck of cards contains the 6 different goods being traded as well as camels. There are fewer of the more valuable goods (like diamonds and gold) and more of the less valuable goods (like leather and spices). Three camel cards are removed from the deck and placed in the center of the playing area and the rest of the cards are shuffled. Five are dealt to each player and then 2 more are placed in the playing area with the camels. If a player has camel cards in their hand they take them out and place them on the table in front of them and this is their “herd.” So far, it’s just a bit of setup (and the game should look a bit like the picture at right.)
The play is simple. Players can have at max, 7 cards in their hand at a time and on their turn they can only do 1 of 2 things: Draw cards or Sell cards. If a player wants to draw cards they can take any face up card(s) from the playing area. If they take 1 card or ALL of the camels those cards get replaced from the draw deck (and if you take camels you must take all of the camels). If they take 2 or more cards that are not camels they must replace them either with camels from their herd or with cards from their hand. If a player wants to sell cards they take 1 or more cards of the same type of goods from their hand and discard them. Then they take the corresponding number of tokens from the matching stack of goods. If they “sell” 3 or more cards they get a bonus token too. And the tokens are where you collect all of your points. There are restrictions selling Diamonds, Gold and Silver in that you have to discard/sell at least 2 cards, but otherwise you can sell as few or as many as you want but I’ll say the bonus tokens are what are going to help you win so sell more if possible.
The round ends when the draw deck is empty or when there are no more tokens for 3 of the 6 goods. The player with the most camels left in front of them gets to take the camel token (worth 5 points) and both players total up their points. Player with the most points wins and then you play until someone has won 2/3 rounds.
I’ll admit the idea of a 2-player trading game seemed a little weird to me but I really enjoyed Jaipur. I’m sure it will be sitting front and center on my game shelf for most of the summer and since it’s in a nice little box, it will probably make it on a road trip or two as well. I highly recommend Jaipur for anyone looking for a good, fun, strategic but quick 2-player game.
Quick side note: On one of the camel cards there’s a dead panda stuck in the goods on the camel’s back – anyone know why?? I will say it cracks me up but I feel like I’m missing a bigger joke. Although I did find that there are some on Board Game Geek who have their own “Dead Panda” house rule.
$20-25 Jaipur on Amazon and local game stores
Ages 12 and up