My wife J back with us for the first time in a while and we needed a 5 player. So RA was chosen. Rick had the big opening, with a set of civilization tiles, Mike was leading in pharaohs, J had lots of river, Tom built up a bunch of monuments including a 3-of-a-kind, while I had a god tile, some money and no negatives. In the middle round, I built up a bunch of pharoahs, while everyone else was tied on 1, J got her flood and river, scoring was light though and the round ended due to a Ra tile, a little early for Mike and I. No one got very much. In the final round, I completed a monument 3-of-a-kind, as well as grabbing some river/flood tiles and cementing my lead in pharoahs. My god tile got me a civ tile and I was looking quite set. There was maneuvering in the pharoahs to avoid last place, Rick again managed a set of civ tiles (despite this being a game in which ALL 4 civilization disaster tiles came out!) and J again got her flood for her long river, plus some more odd points, though she missed a civ tile. Tom made a big move, getting a complete set of monuments, some river. Mike actually ceded him the last, those 2 last in. Mike got greedy, let Tom have it so he could pull, but Ra was unhappy and 3 red tiles came out before Mike could cash in profitably. He had the consolation of having the highest suns but overall the lowest score. My steady scoring (and no negatives) won the day.
Mike was dismissive of Ra after the game, saying it was just pulling tiles from a bag and may as well be rolling dice. "It's no Power Grid" he said disdainfully (a reference to the game he won last week!). While it is certainly true there is more unpredictability in a 5 player game of Ra, I think it works quite well and it is hardly a luck-fest. Weighing bids, appraising the value of a lot to each person at the table. Knowing when to push the smaller lots (with your smaller sun tiles) and when to let it build. These are all part of the Ra experience. There is a good bit of luck there though: how quickly the Ra tiles comes out at the end can spell disaster or bonanza for the one doing the drawing (while everyone else wills the tiles to be red...), it makes it a regular at our table and gets play both at lunch sessions and during longer game sessions. It does play OK with 2 as well, so I was surprised it had been long enough that my wife needed a refresher today, though she doesn't have quite the rules retention that I do.