Thursday, September 14, 2006

My Look At - Ra

Ra! Ra! Ra! Only one game that could make completely innocent gamer chant the name of an ancient pagan Egyptian god. Ra is a Reiner Knizia game published by Rio Grande, a combination that will not wrong you.

Ra is at its core is an auction game for 3 to 5 players and could be played in about 60 minutes. The goal of the game is to be the one who scores the most points. The games comes in a medium small sides box, inside you will get a board used for auctions, hundreds of cardboard tiles, a bag to put it all in, scoring cardboard counters with denominations, a think wooden Ra silhouette figure, and some wooden sun disks (chips) used for bidding.

The game play is cunning. Players has to constantly evaluate the value of tiles and sun disk on the board. In the beginning of the game each player randomly chooses a fixed pile sun disks. Each turn a player may either draw a tile from the bag and place it on the board, play a god tile, or invoke Ra.

The types of tiles vary. The tile types are Culture, Monuments, Pharaohs, Flood/River, Gold, Gods, Catastrophe and Ra. Players gets points if the player posses at least 3 different culture tiles, players gets minus points for not having at least 1 culture tile. The player with the most pharaoh gets points while the player with the least amount of pharaohs gets minus points. River tiles gives one point each only if the player also posses a flood tile which also give one point. Gold tiles gives three points. Catastrophe tiles takes makes player discard tiles. God tiles lets player discard it for a tile on the board. Monument tiles only score at the end of the game, Monuments score for every set of unique and set of identical tiles. Ra tiles invokes Ra. All these tiles except Ra could only be obtained in auctions.

So what happens when one invokes Ra in the game? An auction. Beginning with the player to the left of the one who invoked Ra players place bets in the form of sun disks. Each sun disk has a fixed value and no two are the game. The auction is for every tile on the board plus the sun disk in the middle of the board. The winning disk replaces the central disk and is up for grabs in the next auction. If voluntarily invoked the player who called Ra must bid if every one else passes. If involuntarily invoked by drawing a Ra tile or by filling up the auction board with tiles all players may pass. The auction continues or all tiles are discarded if the board if full.

Constantly players have to weigh the value on the board. Is it valuable to me? Is it valuable to someone else? Should I call Ra and chance winning the tiles? Should I wait? Or Should I throw others game by calling Ra while the board is mostly empty?

The possibility is endless and balanced. Players with high sun disk must chance loosing it to someone else to be used in the next round and getting a risk a smaller sun disk for the next round. A player that constantly calls Ra might find himself running out of sun disks early and so on.

The game is played in 3 scoring rounds. A round ends when all sun disks are used or when the bard is filled with Ra tiles. In the last round Sun Disks and Monuments also scores.

The game is excellent. It has the element of openness, balance and deduction that I love in a board game. Like I said earlier: When you see Reiner Kenizia and Rio Grande on the same box, you can not go wrong.

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