Jaipur – Send Your Camels to Trade
Midnight at the Oasis, send your camels to trade…
Every play you make in Jaipur, the two-player set collection game of trading and selling goods and camels, is itself a trade. Sure you get something good, but every move you make also provides an opportunity for your opponent. Perhaps that’s why my husband Tim and I love it so much. Let’s take a closer look at this fun and beautiful card game.
In Jaipur, your goal is to win the Sultan’s Favor by proving yourself the best merchant (winning two out of three games by earning the most money).
Set up is pretty quick, particularly if you sorted the coins in descending order by type, with the highest value coin on top, when putting the game away. (See picture.) Place 3 camels and two cards from the deck between the players to form the marketplace and deal each player 5 cards. If you receive any camels in your starting hand, place them face up in front of you. They’re considered to be in your stable and don’t count against your hand limit of 7 cards.
On your turn you can do one of the following:
- Take one good into your hand from the marketplace (the 5 face-up cards between you and your opponent).
- Take all of the camels there (camels don’t count against your hand limit).
- Exchange camels from your stable and/or goods from your hand for an equal number of goods in the marketplace.
- Sell goods of one type for the available coins in the treasury. You’ll earn a bonus chip if you sell at least 3. Sell 4 or 5 for a bigger bonus.
Play continues with players alternating turns until 3 types of goods coins have run out. The player with the most camels receives a bonus chip, then you count your coins and award the Sultan’s Favor to the player with the most. Best two out of three games wins.
Jaipur is a very lovely game: from the artwork to the box insert. The cards have held up beautifully despite repeated plays. (Jaipur is one of the two-player games we teach most often.) The chips/coins are made of a sturdy cardboard. I like the box insert’s slanted storage spaces for the coins. It makes it easy to store the coins in proper order so setup for the next game is just a matter of pulling the chips out by color and laying them on the table.
I love Jaipur! It’s one of my favorite two-player games. It’s also one of the two-player games I most often recommend.
There’s a lot more strategy and tactics than may be apparent at first. Every play you make is a trade-off. For example,
- If you take all the camels in the marketplace, you provide your opponent new goods and/or camels to choose from. As my luck has it, that usually means diamonds and gold that my husband can grab up.
- If you take one or more goods so you’ll have more of that type to sell and maybe earn a bonus, your opponent may sell that type of good immediately beating you to the highest-value coin(s) for that good. My husband does this to me all the time! (During setup the coins are arranged highest to lowest with the highest-valued on top, so the earlier you sell, the greater the reward.) I’ve learned the hard way to do the same to him.
- If you sell, you leave everything currently in the marketplace available to your opponent.
Jaipur is a very, very tactical game. You have to make the most of your options. The first few games we played my husband beat me every time. I thought I was doing good acquiring and selling goods quickly for the high-value coins. Meanwhile my husband concentrated on acquiring and selling larger sets of goods to earn the bonus chips. He wasn’t selling as often, but when he did sell he earned more with the bonus chips.
The more you play, the more strategies you’ll discover. Like watching what goods your opponent takes and keeping track of how many camels he has and taking advantage of that information accordingly. Remember: every play is a trade.
Jaipur supports 2 players ages 12 and up and plays in about 30 minutes.
Copyright © 2016 by Tina G. McDuffie. All rights reserved.
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