Recommend
41 
 Thumb up
 Hide
13 Posts

Jaipur» Forums » Reviews

Subject: 2-Player Oasis or Just Another Mirage? rss

Your Tags: Add tags
Popular Tags: [View All]
Ryan Tullis
United States
Orlando
Florida
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Introduction

The elusive and highly desired 2-player board game. One of the most commonly asked questions I see over and over again on both Board Game Geek and other websites such as Reddit is, "What's a good 2-player board game?" This usually applies for a gamer and their significant other, and the drab of answers start coming in, "Carcassonne plays well with 2 (it does)," "7 Wonders is hit or miss with 2," the flood of various deck builders, and then, if one's lucky, a random "Jaipur" is thrown into the mix.

What makes good 2-player board games so hard to find? Even in a market that's begging for them, designers are still struggling to hit a 2-player sweet spot. Maybe it's because it's hard to emulate the fun of having 4+ people laughing and enjoying a game in a simmered down environment. More likely, it's because often the games are designed for 4, and then try to figure out a way to play 2 more as an afterthought to grab more sales than a legitimate two player effort.

Well, friends, Jaipur is made for 2. It lives and dies on 2 players. In a dry, dry desert for great 2 player games, Jaipur seems like a pond in the middle of the dune, but is it for real?

Theme




Let me tell you cover art took a while for me to get over. All me an Ameritrash fan, but it's hard to make a downtown market with a smiling merchant seem like a thrilling game. I mean, I'm not too picky, give me a knight just walking by (obviously not fitting to this theme). Give me a merchant that looks like he's smartly figuring out an intense trade. But this guy just looks like every day is a good, easy day for him. And I certainly don't feel like him in the difficult decisions that make up Jaipur.

Of course, the theme works well for the game. For something so seemingly pasted on, you do get the feeling of early-cashing in for goods to undercut your opponent and a big haul really makes you feel like you played the market (and your opponent) smartly. So, truth be told, I feel like a merchant while playing this game.

Gameplay



I'm not going to bore you with a rules explanation. I hate typing them and you probably hate reading them. Instead, I'll say this: In Jaipur, you have hands of up to 7 of 6 different goods type of various value. You and your opponent take turns trading with a center row of cards in order to build rummy-like melds before turning them in for "goods" tokens, which are essentially victory point tokens of descending value.

So why is Jaipur not a Rummy clone? First, you can turn in your cards unmelded. What this does is give you a chance to quickly shoot down the value of goods at the market before your opponent can turn in his big meld for a large sum of victory points (the exception are the three most expensive goods, which need at least be traded in sets of 2 or more). But holding on isn't such a bad idea, either, as you get lucrative bonus points for turning on those big hands of 3, 4, and 5 respectively.

Camels are an extra type of card that don't count toward your hand limit. You can use these for big swing plays in the center of the board. Want more of an explanation of that? Check out the rules.

Thoughts and Is This Game a 2-Player Oasis

Jaipur is a tension fest. There is no happy merchant like the cover shows, but instead two very bitter rivals edging one another out for victory at the market. Trading games are something I tend to enjoy, but thought impossible in a 2 player game. Because of the center board, you're quite aware when exchanging or taking cards that you're essentially trading with your opponent. At times, you might be buying gold just for the sake of stopping them from getting it, as remembering what your opponent has bought from the market is fairly easy to memorize. Or you might exchange something you know they need to the board simply because you think you're going to have a better deal. But the game isn't perfect memorization, and the center deck adds an unknown variable (as well as your opponent's starting hand). So manage your risk.



Even if Jaipur came down to this, it'd still be a fun little game, if two dimensional (read: Rummy). But then comes the camels and the descending value of goods once traded. Camels, while not immediately offering you anything (aside from a 5 point token at the end of the game, which can actually win you the game), allow for massive swing plays, along with relatively safe plays since you can exchange knowing that you've given your opponent little to nothing (if one takes the camels, they're replaced from the deck, giving you first pick of the goods). And it's here that Jaipur gets a third dimension and ascends into being a really good game.

To me, a good game is made of difficult decisions mixed in with a general strategy or tactic. Jaipur is full of them. Do you take the camels for a swing play later at the risk of giving your opponent something they need on the draw? Do you turn your tokens in now while the value of the goods is still high? Do you sell only one or two cards to drop a goods value on your opponent?

If there were a couple of warnings I'd give to those buying Jaipur, I'd say this:

- If you don't like stressful games where you can hurt your opponent (even if indirectly), this isn't for you. Dropping the value of a gold right before your significant other is about to cash will not lend to good will. Ignore that smiling merchant on the front. It's a trap.

- At times your hand will be forced to make a decision is obviously bad since inaction is not an option (five camels in the center row and you've got nothing to sell, so you have to buy... all five camels, even if you know your opponent is just waiting for a diamond to come to market. Tough luck).

- Because of some elements of luck, games are played as a best of 2 out of 3 to mitigate luck the way a backgammon does with point limits.


Jaipur has a lot going for it. I didn't think such a light game could cause me to bite my lip and feel like I'm really making tough market decisions, especially in a 2 player environment. For that, it gets a ton of credit and props from me.

So is Jaipur an oasis in the desert? Yes, but that pond is less filled with water and more with the sweat and tears of stressed-out merchants.

I give Jaipur 8 suspicious looking camels out of 10.






P.S. I forgot to give my compliments to the components of the game. When you open up the box, you punch out nothing. The cardboard tokens are already good to go, and placed in a nice compartment, ready to play for your first game. It's possibly one of the best boxes I've ever gotten with a game. More games need to do this. Well done.



Edited for spelling: Thanks, Tom!

46 
 Thumb up
0.50
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Andy Andersen
United States
Michigan
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Excellent review of an excellent game.

Those darn camels keep me from winning far too often
6 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
David B
United States
Virginia
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Orangemoose wrote:
Excellent review of an excellent game.

Those darn camels keep me from winning far too often



Just pretend they are moose.
12 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Jason
Guernsey
msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Nice review of a beautiful game
4 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Bryan McNeely
United States
Indiana
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Simply put, it's a fantastic game. I have been looking for really nice two-player games for my wife and I and after showing Jaipur to her through a mutual friend's copy, she really took to it. She ended up buying it this afternoon.

It's another hit for the house; just after the purchase of Targi last week.
4 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
David Janik-Jones
Canada
Waterloo
Ontario
flag msg tools
designer
publisher
Up Front fan, Cats were once worshipped as gods and they haven't forgotten this, Combat Commander series fan, The Raven King (game publisher) ... that's me!, Fields of Fire fan
badge
Slywester Janik, awarded the Krzyż Walecznych (Polish Cross of Valour), August 1944
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
One of my favourite two-player games as well. Great review.
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Bob
United States
flag msg tools
Be sure to taste your words, before you spit them out.
badge
If you climb in the saddle, be ready for the ride.
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Great review Ryan! thumbsup

Do you have other 2-player only games you'd recommend?
2 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Scott Kovatch
United States
Pleasanton
California
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
I bought this last Christmas, and played it once with my wife. Afterwards, we said 'meh', and I was about to sell it. But now, I can only conclude we did something wrong because after a few games on BoardGameArena I've changed my mind -- this is an awesome game. I lost yesterday on the last turn of a game that went to tie-breakers because I held out one turn too long to sell gold. It didn't bother me in the least, because the other player clearly earned it. That, to me, is the sign of a great game.
2 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Keith Anderson
United States
Tulsa
Oklahoma
flag msg tools
I'll play the Klingons
badge
I'll play the Klingons
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
skovatch wrote:
I bought this last Christmas, and played it once with my wife. Afterwards, we said 'meh', and I was about to sell it. But now, I can only conclude we did something wrong because after a few games on BoardGameArena I've changed my mind -- this is an awesome game. I lost yesterday on the last turn of a game that went to tie-breakers because I held out one turn too long to sell gold. It didn't bother me in the least, because the other player clearly earned it. That, to me, is the sign of a great game.


After we played a couple of games I was also in the "it is so so" camp. But after playing more I really like it. Sell now to get more per good. Accumulate for a set bonus. Swap cards to get a set. Hold to keep these out of opponent's hand. Sell card to free up hand room. Draw card to build up hand. Get camels for future use and possible camel points. Skip camels to limit opponent's choices in the middle. and on and on. Light but thoughtful. Excellent game.
3 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Ryan Tullis
United States
Orlando
Florida
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Ashitaka wrote:
Great review Ryan! thumbsup

Do you have other 2-player only games you'd recommend?


Other 2 player games I'd recommend? Hmm.. In order of how much I like them with 2, I'd say.

1.) Jaipur (this is for reference)
2.) Carcassonne
3.) Ghost Stories
4.) Ascension
5.) Citadels
6.) Forbidden Island or Pandemic
7.) Backgammon
8.) Memoir 44
9.) Hive

All personal preference, but I think all of those play well with two (or just play only with two).
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Ben O'Steen
United Kingdom
Bishops Stortford
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
We've played this game a lot and do love it. It did take us a while to spot the single camel card which has a panda on its back though
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Jānis Rudzītis
Latvia
Jūrmala
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Tryken wrote:
Ashitaka wrote:
Great review Ryan! thumbsup

Do you have other 2-player only games you'd recommend?


Other 2 player games I'd recommend? Hmm.. In order of how much I like them with 2, I'd say.

1.) Jaipur (this is for reference)
2.) Carcassonne
3.) Ghost Stories
4.) Ascension
5.) Citadels
6.) Forbidden Island or Pandemic
7.) Backgammon
8.) Memoir 44
9.) Hive

All personal preference, but I think all of those play well with two (or just play only with two).

+ Targi, + Jambo (&Asante)
2 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Annie M-G
Canada
Laval
Québec
flag msg tools
mbmbmbmbmb
baltaistehws wrote:
Tryken wrote:
Ashitaka wrote:
Great review Ryan! thumbsup

Do you have other 2-player only games you'd recommend?


Other 2 player games I'd recommend? Hmm.. In order of how much I like them with 2, I'd say.

1.) Jaipur (this is for reference)
2.) Carcassonne
3.) Ghost Stories
4.) Ascension
5.) Citadels
6.) Forbidden Island or Pandemic
7.) Backgammon
8.) Memoir 44
9.) Hive

All personal preference, but I think all of those play well with two (or just play only with two).

+ Targi, + Jambo (&Asante)


I would add Agricola: All Creatures Big and Small, my boyfriend and I really like this game.
Ebbe & Flut is nice too, but not the same kind of game at all.
Fresco is nice too (but its beter at 4), the use of a third player played in turn by each player is interesting.
I think Takenoko might also be good at two (but I only tried it with 3 players so far)
2 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Front Page | Welcome | Contact | Privacy Policy | Terms of Service | Advertise | Support BGG | Feeds RSS
Geekdo, BoardGameGeek, the Geekdo logo, and the BoardGameGeek logo are trademarks of BoardGameGeek, LLC.