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Subject: Taj Mahal rss

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Michael Denman
United States
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Yes, it’s an older game, but with it being reprinted, I felt a review might still be of some value.

I don’t like writing reviews which spell out every step of game play (you can find that elsewhere), but I will give you the basics.

Players get a hand of cards which they will use in an ‘auction’ of sorts. There will be twelve ‘auctions’ in the game and if you’re playing with a full complement of players, you have to be able to determine which ‘auctions’ you’re not likely to win anything in and bail out immediately to be rewarded with extra cards for future ‘auctions’.

An ‘auction’ has you essentially ‘bidding’ on six prizes at the same time. You may end up with one item. You may end up with more than one. You may end up with nothing. Any cards used to ‘bid’ are used though, so you really hope to come away with something for your effort.

You’ll notice that, I keep putting ‘auction’ in quotes. That’s because they really don’t operate like a regular auction. On your turn, you may choose to take any items you currently have the highest ‘bid’ for and leave. Or you may choose to add another card to your bid. Or you may just have to leave the auction because you have nothing left to bid. These ‘auctions’ often have a lot more to do with the number of ‘bids’ you can keep making than the actual quality of the ‘bid’ being made.

So what can you win? Five of the items are people. Winning the same person twice gives you a re-usable card until someone else wins that person twice and is able to steal the card from you. These people also allow you to place a palace on the board and points are awarded for setting up continuous chains of palaces. You can also win goods. These are directly worth points with an interesting mechanic in that winning a good that you’ve won before is worth bonus points, so it’s not uncommon to see players trying to specialize to maximize points. Relative scores are known throughout the entire game, with there being some surprise bonus points at the end for cards remaining in your hand.

I really like this game. It’s fairly easy to explain to new players, although they may have trouble choosing a strategy at first. Looking over the board when you start (it’s semi-random every game) and making a plan of trying to win Item B in the 3rd auction, Item C in the 7th auction, and so on appeals to me. Of course, few plans survive contact with the enemy but… that’s another story. The simultaneous ‘bidding’ is interesting to me in that some ‘auctions’ really aren’t competitions as the players are trying to acquire different prizes. The theme isn’t very essential (no surprise there), but I like the Indian setting anyway.

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