Monday, 6 June 2011


Plays: 2Px2.

Jaipur, the big bearded man card game. I remember this anecdote I read on A guy was at a game convention, and when he passed by a table a big bearded man (as in the man has a big beard, not that the man is big-sized and also bearded) invited him to sit down to play a game. So he did. And it was then he realised that the big bearded man looked very much like the person on the box cover, who was also inviting, but as a merchant inviting customers to see his goods.

The Game

Jaipur is a quick and clever 2-player card game. Players collect goods and sell them, preferably in big sets, and collect victory point chips.

Cards are goods (6 types) or camels. There is always a row of 5 cards (called the market) at the centre from which you take cards. Each player also has a stack before him for camels, because camels never go into your hand. Your hand size limit is 7, which is important and greatly affects the game.

On your turn you have 4 choices:

  1. Take one good (and draw one card from the draw deck to refill the market).
  2. Take multiple goods, but you need to refill the market using other goods from your hand or camels from your camel deck. This is basically swapping.
  3. Take all camels and add them to your camel stack (refill market using draw deck).
  4. Sell goods, i.e. discard good(s) of one type to gain victory points. There is a race element here. You gain VP chips of the corresponding goods that you sell, 1 chip per card, and you always get the highest valued chips available. However if you sell 3 or more, you also gain another type of VP chip, the bigger your set the higher the value. So you are torn between selling early to gain the higher valued goods VP chips, and selling later after you have a bigger set to gain the sets VP chips. Selling many at once also saves you turns compared to spending multiple turns at different stages of the game selling the same goods type.

The camels are a critical aspect. They are a tremendous help when you want to take multiple goods. However claiming multiple camels from the market can be risky, because you must claim all and you then refill the market from the draw deck. You might reveal multiple lucrative cards for your opponent. That brings us to the hand size limit, an important aspect of the game.

The artwork is excellent. In the background you can see the market currently has 3 camels, 1 leather and 1 silverware.

6 types of victory point chips for the 6 types of goods. On the right are the bonus chips for 3+, 4+ and 5+ goods per sale, and also the 5pt bonus chip for whoever has more camels at game end.

Making good use of camel cards is very important.

The hand size limit forces you to choose what goods to collect. You need to watch your opponent's hand size because when he's at his limit he has fewer options and it is slightly safer to do things like taking many camels and refilling the market.

Memory comes into play. You can see what goods your opponent is collecting. So you roughly know what goods you are competing in. There is some brinkmanship especially when you are going for the same goods. Also sometimes you take a good you don't want just to deny your opponent.

The game ends when the draw deck runs out or when VP chips for 3 types of goods run out.

The Play

The game plays very fast. On your turn you just pick one of the 3 ways of gaining cards, or you sell goods. There is some luck in what cards get replenished into the market. Sometimes every time you take a card, you draw to the market the exact type that your opponent is collecting.

There is always the tension of how long you want to keep collecting a particular type of goods before you sell it. Waiting for a big batch is always tempting. Because of the hand size limit, you are often forced to make tough decisions on what goods to go for.

The games went so fast that they were probably shorter than the time it took to explain the game. Allen won both games.

The Thoughts

Jaipur is a quick and clever card game. It seems simple, but there are actually some tricks to be learnt. There is luck in the order that cards come out to the market, but other than the starting hand, this is a perfect information game, if you can remember the cards taken by your opponent. There are only 7 types of cards in the game so card-counting is not hard. The game can be played at a high skill level.


Frank Conradie said...

Do you think Jaipur is a game that your wife will enjoy? I am always looking for good 2p games to play at home.

Hiew Chok Sien 邱卓成 said...

I meant to try this with my wife, but never got around to it before I returned it to Allen, who was also planning to try it with his wife.

With my wife I estimate the success rate to be 50/50. Why Jaipur may work with my wife: it's quick to play, so it's good for those times when she isn't in the mood to sit down for a medium / long game. Also there are enough interesting decisions in the game so it isn't too simplistic. Why it may not work: My wife is used to playing Race for the Galaxy, so Jaipur may feel not meaty enough.