Recommend
25 
 Thumb up
 Hide
12 Posts

Medici» Forums » Reviews

Subject: Comparing Medici and Ra - one group's opinion rss

Your Tags: Add tags
Popular Tags: [View All]
Tim Seitz
United States
Glen Allen
VA
flag msg tools
badge
Like water spilled on the ground, which cannot be recovered, so we must die. But God does not take away life; instead, he devises ways so that a banished person may not remain estranged from him. 2 Sam 14:14
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
I have read a lot of discussion about the good doctor’s auction games, particularly Ra and Medici. There are clearly different opinions on which is the better game. In the end, it probably boils down to personal preferences, but since my gaming group had unanimous and strong thoughts on the question, I thought I’d share their insights.

These are people who by nature tend to be more analytical, so the bias would generally be on a game that is more calculating. And after playing both Ra and Medici several times this week, the clear consensus amongst them is that Medici is the better game.

Since, the games are well known to most readers, and even if they are not, there are several reviews already posted, I will focus on what we considered the key differences, in descending order of relevance:

1. Clear valuations. Scoring is much simpler in Medici so the values of the cards are easier to calculate. Also, you are paying for goods with victory points, so there is a direct correlation between cost and lost victory points. In Ra, the link between sun value and fame points is much more tenuous and difficult to calculate. Favors Medici.

2. Ease of learning. Partly because of the clear valuations, but also because of the round-by-round scoring, it’s easier for new folks to pick up on the subtleties of Medici; it really only takes one practice round for people to pick up the game. On the other hand, because a significant portion of the scoring does not take place until the end, Ra requires an entire play through (and maybe then some!) Favors Medici.

3. Tense auctions. Because players are bidding in discrete increments, many Ra auctions are largely foregone conclusions when the player calls Ra. In our games, we find a lack of tension in the auctions most of the way through. If it’s a good lot, the player with the highest tile wins it. If it’s not a good lot, it either passes, or the players with the 1, 2 or 3 can pick it up cheaply, still with no real contest. In Medici, virtually every bid elicits a groan from the following player as they are forced to make a tough decision. Every turn, the decisions were tougher in Medici. Of course, this results in a slower game, and some occasional analysis paralysis, but it’s much more fun for us. Favors Medici.

4. Screw your neighbor. There’s much more player interaction in Medici. You have two main ways to screw your opponents. One is by setting up the lots: lumping cards valuable to your opponent with worthless cards, or creating lots that multiple players are competing for, so they end up bidding higher – and using more victory points. There’s little to do to mess with an opposing player in Ra. Favors Medici.

5. Luck factor. Ra has a much higher luck factor because auctions happen much more randomly, with a much wider distribution of outcomes. In Medici, the luck is limited to the draws (and discards) of the cards, but since the deck is played through each round, you will almost always have access to the cards you need – you’ll just have to pay for them. Favors Medici.

6. Appearance. Ra gets the nod in appearance and presentation. The bits are better and the materials are easy to understand (especially if you use the available player mats from the BGG files). Favors Ra.

7. Speed of play. Because of the above noted attributes, Ra plays much faster in our group. This creates more value/minute, since the games are closely related – we can get our “auction fill” satisfied more quickly. Favors Ra.
9 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Eric Knauer
United States
Heathrow
Florida
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Thanks for the interesting post. I'd like to see a similar analysis between Ra and Traumfabrik because in both games players are bidding on and collecting sets of tiles that result in victory points. However, the push-your-luck element is mostly missing in Traumfabrik, which leads me to believe it has less luck than either Ra or Medici (not that I dislike the luck in those games). All three games are worth owning and I think I slightly favor Medici at this point.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Chris Okasaki
United States
White Plains
New York
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
I have not played Medici, so I can't compare them directly. I wonder, though, how many players were you playing with? My understanding is that Medici is best with 5 or 6, whereas Ra is probably best with 4 and worst with 5. If you were playing both games with 5 players, that may explain some of the result.

Quote:
1. Clear valuations. Scoring is much simpler in Medici so the values of the cards are easier to calculate. Also, you are paying for goods with victory points, so there is a direct correlation between cost and lost victory points. In Ra, the link between sun value and fame points is much more tenuous and difficult to calculate. Favors Medici.


In Ra, valuation is the game--if valuation were clear, there would be very little game left. In any case, I'm not convinced that "clear" is necessarily better than "difficult". To pick a random example, valuation in poker is difficult. However, if cards were all played face up, then valuation would be much more clear. Would that make it a better game?

Quote:
2. Ease of learning. Partly because of the clear valuations, but also because of the round-by-round scoring, it’s easier for new folks to pick up on the subtleties of Medici; it really only takes one practice round for people to pick up the game. On the other hand, because a significant portion of the scoring does not take place until the end, Ra requires an entire play through (and maybe then some!) Favors Medici.


I can't say how easy Medici is to learn, but I've used Ra as my "gateway" game with many non-gamers. As long as I say a little bit about strategy while I'm explaining the game, they've had no trouble picking it up. In my experience with newbies, Ra seems a little harder to learn than Ticket to Ride, but a little easier to learn than Settlers.

Quote:
3. Tense auctions. Because players are bidding in discrete increments, many Ra auctions are largely foregone conclusions when the player calls Ra. In our games, we find a lack of tension in the auctions most of the way through. If it’s a good lot, the player with the highest tile wins it. If it’s not a good lot, it either passes, or the players with the 1, 2 or 3 can pick it up cheaply, still with no real contest.


Wow! This is completely different from my experience of the game! I can only guess that your group is calling Ra substantially later than the people I've played with. Typically, the people with lesser tiles feel practically obligated to call Ra precisely at those times when the auction is not a foregone conclusion, when the players with higher tiles have to think hard about whether to take the current lot (which is less than they would like) or wait for a later lot (and risk getting little or nothing).
5 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Billy McBoatface
United States
Lexington
Massachusetts
flag msg tools
KGS is the #1 web site for playing go over the internet. Visit now!
badge
Yes, I really am that awesome.
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Nice post. I'm a big Ra fan who has never played Medici. In the past, nobody's post has made me want to give it a try, but yours makes me curious. I'll have to try it out some time, see how it plays!

One thing that puzzles me from your post is that you give the bidding system to medici. I personally love the way the Sun tokens work. You consider it a minus, because it means that both your bids are less closely tied to your score and also means that there is less tension about exactly how much a person can bid, but I like two things a lot about this system:

- Having a sun token in the auction gives some great dilemmas. Do you take that great auction, that leaves you with lousy bidding power for next round? And, do you take the crummy auction, hoping that the high-value token included will make up the difference later?

- You can really force other players hands by examining their possible bids. This works best with only 3 players. When I can see that I have only the #3 sun, and the 4..10 are already used, I can call an auction, forcing my opponents to either use their valuable suns on a mediocre auction, or let me get a great bargain. The strategies that come out based on distribution of possible bids can be amazing.

Between these two, I just can't see the sun token bidding system being inferior to a victory point bidding system. But, all the same, your post has convinced me that I ought to give Medici a try so I can see for myself.
2 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Jeff Brown
United States
Colorado Springs
Colorado
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
I have to say that thus far my wife definitely favors Medici over Ra, and I believe that I am leaning that way also. The only problem is most of our friends want to play Ra instead. To me it feels like there is more luck in Ra but that may be because I don't know how to play it well. That being said my wife and I typically like games with less luck involved.

Jeff
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Ken
United States
Portland
Oregon
flag msg tools
badge
May I pass along my congratulations for your great interdimensional breakthrough. I am sure, in the miserable annals of the Earth, you will be duly enshrined. -- Lord John Whorfin
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
I've played Ra and Medici and prefer Traumfabrik.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Tim Seitz
United States
Glen Allen
VA
flag msg tools
badge
Like water spilled on the ground, which cannot be recovered, so we must die. But God does not take away life; instead, he devises ways so that a banished person may not remain estranged from him. 2 Sam 14:14
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
cokasaki wrote:
I wonder, though, how many players were you playing with? My understanding is that Medici is best with 5 or 6, whereas Ra is probably best with 4 and worst with 5. If you were playing both games with 5 players, that may explain some of the result.

We've played Ra with 3 and 4 players. We've played Medici with 4 and 5 players. Apart from my local group I've played Medici with anywhere from 3 to 6 and while I find the strategies change significantly (boat value is better with 3 and commodities are better with 5 and 6), the game seems to play well with the full range.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Ryan McLelland
United States
Draper
Utah
flag msg tools
Don't touch me!!!
badge
Hi! How are you?!?
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
I have played a lot of both games. I can't even compare Medici to Ra. Ra is far an away a better game for gamers and nongamers. Medici is a great game, but I don't think it's even in the same league as Ra. Of the Knizia auction games its last on my list, which isn't saying its a bad game. Ranked in order of my preference:

1. Ra
2. Traumfabrik
3. Modern Art
4. Medici

If you throw in Amun-re which isn't a pure auction game, I would probably list it at the same level as Modern Art.
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Mark Edwards
United States
South Attleboro
Massachusetts
flag msg tools
badge
Greatest secret agent in the world!!!
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
RyanMC wrote:

1. Ra
2. Traumfabrik
3. Modern Art
4. Medici

If you throw in Amun-re which isn't a pure auction game, I would probably list it at the same level as Modern Art.


My ranking would be slightly different (Medici up a notch over MA), but I think the real point of this whole thread shouldn't be "Which is best?" It should be "Beg, Borrow, Steal until you own all of them!!!"

Seriously, if you are an auction game fan you should play each of these games at least a few times to experience their individual charms. They are all great games (IMO) and you'll end up on a quest to own each and every one of them.
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Tim Seitz
United States
Glen Allen
VA
flag msg tools
badge
Like water spilled on the ground, which cannot be recovered, so we must die. But God does not take away life; instead, he devises ways so that a banished person may not remain estranged from him. 2 Sam 14:14
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
I agree. All of Reiner's auction games are great fun, and they are deceptively deep. They are simple in appearance and rules, but not easy to master.
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Vern Ryan
Canada
Edmonton
Alberta
flag msg tools
mbmb

I'm with the Medici bunch even though I like RA alot.

It's a tough call and though the margins of victory may be really close on some I agree with your scoring on all 7 of your points.

Medici auctions are more tense, there's more interaction with your neighbors, less luck.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Jo L.
Belgium
Gent
flag msg tools
badge
My scythe... I like to keep it next to where my heart used to be.
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Very well written post. I (still!) haven't played Ra yet but I know the rules enough to understand. I have played Medici a lot on the iPad and recently bought the first edition, and because it was so ugly, I was happy to find a new copy at half price in my local game store today. Totally made my day

I think that a lot of it has to do with something such as simple as this. One of the main reasons - I think - that Medici has snuck in under the radar, is that Ra is ranked MUCH higher here on BGG. It's a psychological thing: newbies and people who don't play the game often will see that and will get more quickly into Ra.

Ra has been on my wishlist for quite some time, and I admit that I probably never would have paid attention to Medici if I hadn't bought it for 99 cents at the Appstore and fallen in love with it.
 
 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.