Published on July 24th, 2013 | by Luke Turpeinen
$20 Quick Pick: Jaipur
Funding the Jewel of India
The ancient city of Jaipur is a popular modern tourist destination for a reason. The host of remarkable architecture, a World Heritage site and many other wonders, it is a valuable addition to our global culture. The game that carries that city’s name is equally beautiful, and at about $20 MSRP it is a deal of a game and a perfect choice for this week’s $20 Quick Pick.
First things first, Jaipur is an amazingly beautiful game. It’s simple, bright and bold colors along with its slightly cartoonish digitally painted illustrations really work for me. The game comes with cards and poker-like chips and the consistency of the art and colors between them are the things that initially caught my eye with this game. The components are solid. The playing chips are sturdy and thick and showed no signs of warping, as can sometimes be a problem with cardboard. The cards seem to be printed on the same material that Bicycle playing cards are printed on. This is fine, it’s an industry standard and if casinos think it’s fine, then I am not going to complain too much. That said, I do prefer a more “trading card game” feel to my game components, though this did not detract at all from my game experience.
The game is a simple 2-4 player set collection game. Essentially, you are a merchant trying to trade goods you acquire for the highest cost possible. Each time you trade in a set of cards, you get a chip that corresponds to the type of goods that you traded. Different goods sell for different amounts, and the way the chips are arranged in the set up phase, the earlier bought chips are worth more points, sometimes considerably more so. In addition to this, if you make larger sets of three, four or five cards then you get a bonus chip (a totally different chip with its own point value) based on the number of cards you traded in. This creates a couple of different strategies, as trading in small sets early get you the higher valued goods tokens, but doing so nets you less bonus tokens which are highly valuable. The game also includes camel cards, ways to control your hand arrangement, and other quirks, but this is the essential gameplay choice: how big to make your sets.
Nicole and I played Jaipur over about 20 minutes at our almost-local game cafe Card Kingdom in Ballard, Washington. I felt like the game was fun, it played well and the rules are simple enough that after your first turn you’re really moving lightning fast (even though neither of us had played before). The downside to this is that we really had no desire for a second game re-match. The bright colors and simple gameplay make this a good choice as a time killer between larger games or as something portable to play during train rides or at the airport.
I’d also highly recommend this game for children. It does involve some skill, but the rules will be easy to learn even for pretty young children. I can imagine loving this as a six year old version of myself. Honestly this is a great pick for a family game and is easy enough that the kids could probably play it easily enough in the car.