Jaipur is a 2-player card game that takes about 30 minutes to play. The game was designed by Sebastien Pauchon and is published by Asmodee and Game Works (my copy is the Game Works' version). Jaipur uses hand management and set collection mechanics. The goal of Jaipur is to be a better trader than your opponent. The theme of the game is that you and your opponent are the best traders in the city, but only the best trader will be invited to the Maharaja's Court.
Jaipur is played in a best of 3 format. Each round takes between 5-10 minutes to play, and then a new round begins. Play starts with each player having a hand of cards (5 to start). There are then five cards that are available in the center, called the market. These cards are either various goods or camels. Finally, you have sets of tokens with point values assigned to them off to the side. On your turn you may do one of two things. Take cards or sell cards. If you decide to take cards, you can do this in a number of ways. First, you can take as many cards from the center as you choose (minimum of 2), as long as you replace them with cards in your hand. You can take a single good from the market. Or you can take all the available camel cards (Camel cards are not placed in your hand, but.
Your second option is to sell cards. You can sell any number of cards in a turn of one good. The only restriction is that with rare goods (gold, silver, and ruby) you have to sell a minimum of 2 cards. These cards are discarded and you take a corresponding amount of tokens. So, if you sell three leather cards, you take the top three leather tokens. If you sell 3-5 of a good in a turn, you can also receive a bonus token that gives you additional points. The more cards you sell the higher the point values. Play continues in this fashion until either 3 sets of tokens are exhausted, or the draw deck cannot refill the market.
Players then count up their points. Each token has a point value associated with it. The player that collected the most camels in their herd will also receive an additional 5 points. Once the points are counted the player with the most points is the winner for the round. The game is then reset and the player who lost starts the next round. Once one player has won twice the game is over.
Components & Rules
The first plus with this game is that it is language independent. The only thing a player needs to know is how to read numbers for the scoring. Second, the game comes with instructions in French, German, and English (This is for the Game Works version). The rules are easy to understand and are laid out very well, making it easy to pick up and play this game. The artwork is functional and color-blind friendly; it's nothing to write home about, but it works for the game. The artwork isn't what is going to draw you to the game. The components themselves are good. The cards are good quality and are easy to shuffle. The tokens are card board and are easy to use and sort. The box also has a nice insert that makes the game easy to sort and store. The price for this one is in the $25 range, I think it's a touch high, but I am cheap, and the game play makes up for it.
The game itself reminds of Rummy. You are picking up cards and building sets and then laying those sets down to score points. Although the origins of this game seemed to be rooted in the classic card game, I believe there is more here that just a Rummy variant. The way you pick up cards and sell cards, it's all about timing and making sure you don't give your opponent that card they have been looking for. I also like that there are a couple different strategies that work. Buy the pricey goods and sell them for a big score, or collect a bunch of the cheaper goods and then sell those for a big score and big bonus points. However, you also have to watch your opponent and make sure you can get in your cards scored first. There in you have your economics. If leather is over sold the price drops as their is less demand. So, getting your goods sold quickly can be advantageous.
Really my only issue with this game was its complete lack of theme. This could be an abstract game or space game, or really whatever you wanted. The theme just doesn't come through. I would have at least liked to have seen a theme pasted on that we haven't seen all over the place. The trading route has just been way over done, even in 2009, when this game was made. I would love to see some more creativity in this area, not only for Jaipur, but for gaming in general. I think we are beginning to see that, but the Meditterean, random city, and space themes are still dominant (off soapbox)
Jaipur is a solid game that has stood the test of time, at lest in board game terms. Four years later and people are still playing this one, which shows that the mechanics and game play are solid, because the theme isn't bringing people back. So, if you enjoy card games with solid mechanics that mirror the concepts found in Rummy, I don't think you can go wrong with Jaipur.