Many will recognize Sebastien Pauchon as a co-designer for 2007’s award winning Caribbean racing game, Jamaica. Two years later, Pauchon released a lesser known, but equally engaging card game called Jaipur.
At its most basic level, Jaipur is a 2-player merchant trading game with cards that will require a good deal of hand management, set collection, and timing. While the rules of the game are quite simple, a surprising amount of depth is tucked behind this unique title.
In Jaipur, each player seeks to become the Maharaja’s personal trader by proving that they can manage their goods and broker better deals than the other player by the end of each round. To do so, players are allowed to exchange their goods and camels at the local market, and then can resell the obtained goods for rupees.
Before we get into an overview, let’s look and see what comes inside the box:
- 55 Goods Cards consisting of Diamonds (6x), Gold (6x), Silver (6x), Cloth (8x), Spices (8x), Leather (10x) and Camels (11x)
- 38 Goods Tokens consisting of Diamonds (5x), Gold (5x),Silver (5x), Cloth (7x), Spices (7x), and Leather (9x)
- 18 Bonus Tokens consisting of 3, 4, and 5 Card Set Bonuses & 1 Camel Token that will give 5 Bonus Rupees to the player with the largest herd of Camels at the end of each round.
- 3 Seals of Excellence: 1 awarded to the winner of each round.
Before the game starts, 3 Camel cards are placed in the middle of the table. The token stacks representing each of the goods are placed to the side of the play area. Tokens in each good stack show differing numerical values and should be placed from lowest to highest value, with the highest number on top.
The rest of the Goods cards are then shuffled and each player receives 5 cards a piece. The remaining cards become the draw pile. If a player has received any camels in their opening hand, they must place them in front of their individual play area. This is now the player’s Herd (the player with the largest Herd at the end of each round receives the Camel Bonus Token).
Since the Market in the middle of the play area will consist of 5 cards during the game, draw 2 cards from the Draw pile and add them to the 3 Camels that are already present. This completes the initial makeup of the Market.
During a player’s turn, they have 2 choices. They can either take cards from the Market or sell cards for Rupees. It’s as simple as that. Easy to remember.
If a player chooses to take cards from the Market, they have 3 different ways in which they can do so.
- They can choose to take 1 Good in which they simply take that Good from the Market, add it to their hand, and replace it with the top card of the Draw pile.
- Or, they can choose to take several Goods in which they will take as many Goods as they wish from the Market, but they must exchange them for the same number of Goods from their hand. So if they wanted to get 2 Cloth and a Silver from the Market, they must replace them with 3 other Goods from their hand.
- Finally, the player can choose instead to take all the Camel cards in the Market and place them in their Herd. They must always take all of the Camels present in the Market. They will then replace that many cards with cards from the Draw pile.
If a player chooses to sell goods instead of taking goods, they must choose one type of good in their hand and place as many cards of that type as they wish into a Discard pile. They will then take as many tokens from that particular good’s token stack as cards of that type that they sold. Since the tokens are stacked from highest to lowest, the earlier to you sell a particular good, the more Rupees you will get for it.
Bonus tokens can also be obtained if you sell 3 or more of a particular good at the same time. Depending on whether you sell 3, 4, or 5 of a good at one time, you will take 1 corresponding Bonus Token at random in addition to the Goods tokens.
The only restriction to selling Goods is that you must sell a minimum of 2 Goods for the more expensive, rare goods (Diamonds, Silver, and Gold). This does not apply for Cloth, Spices and Leather. You may sell any number you wish of these.
A round will end once three of the Goods token stacks are gone or the Draw pile is empty. Player’s will then total up the number of Rupees received during the round (including 5 bonus points to the player with the largest herd) and the player with the highest Rupee total will receive a Seal of Excellence from the Maharaja. Player’s will then start over with a second round and the first player to receive 2 Seals of Excellence will win the game and become the Maharaja’s personal trader.
As you can see, the game play is quite simple to understand and very streamlined. The game shines however because of its underlying depth. Figuring out when to obtain certain goods from the Market and when to sell them is the key to winning the game, all while trying to figure out what your counterpart’s strategy is.
The goods tokens are extremely limited, so one big sell can score you or your opponent a huge amount of Rupees, while at the same time lowering the demand of that product. So do you go ahead and sell that initial 1 Cloth in your hand for 5 Rupees, or do you wait and try to get 3 Cloth in your hand before selling them all for the top 3 Cloth tokens (5+3+3= 11 total Rupees)? But if you wait, your opponent might snag it quickly and then you’re stuck with a bunch of Cloth that is now pretty much worthless. Yes!! I love the tension in this game.
You also have to pay attention to your Herd. Those 5 bonus Rupees at the end of the round can come in handy, but at what extent are you willing to build up a large Herd in which you are not collecting goods?
Overall Jaipur is a wonderful, light but strategic little card game. While it is limited to two players, it really soars because of it. The game plays fairly quickly, with each round lasting no more than 10-15 minutes depending on the largeness of that vein popping out of your skull when your trying to decide what your opposing player is up to.
If you are in need of a new 2-player filler, or would enjoy a new card game to play with the spouse, give Jaipur a try. I think you’ll really like this one.