My First-Time Overview. Here it comes. I'm gonna say something I know I will regret, but first let me preface this by saying I really do like Knizia games. Our group has recently been on a Knizia Kick (Do I get credit for coining this phrase?), and I'm starting to see the similarities between several of his games. I guess my big problem (and this goes for Ra, too) is that many of the games seem so short. I know you have to have long and short games, but Ra gets so much hype that I expected a little more.
The game is really easy to learn. I picked up on the scoring system quickly. Because some of the tiles look different but are of the same type I was a little confused for a moment, but that quickly went away.
I was bummed about having lost my voice a few nights before, but when I learned I could scream Ra on my turn, I confess that I did so more often than I should, just because I sounded like the refrain from "Down with the Sickness"--you know the Oo-wah-ah-ah-ah, only did a sort of Oo-Ra-ah-ah-ah).
My Strategerie. My Ra yells should have added enough aggravation to the game, but when I combined it with another tactic, I found it to be extremely effective. Often when I play a game for the first time, I make what I feel would be "bad" decisions to see what the consequences are realistically. I don't completely dive-bomb the game, but I play around a bit because I find it gives me the experience of several games in one.
Unfortunately, my tactic proved overly effective. I got horrible auction pieces (1, 4, 7) but then got steals at low prices. I bought a ton of water and built up lots of points early and thus was able to get some other good pieces along with the rest.
How then did I win on my first time? You shouldn't win on your first time, right? Maybe there is some luck involved in this game, but like in other Knizia games, you've got to watch the negative points. You also should not over specialize. I noticed that several players built up temples and sphinxes in order to pull one out in the end (a la farmer in Carcassonne--still a favorite tactic of mine), but neglected to build any score during the game.
I also found that players ignored my pursuit of water because of its low point value--not that this tactic will always work! They also underestimated buying small auctions for small values, continuing to try to build up large auctions where I screamed the magic word in my best scratchy voice to end their hopes of high auction profits.
I was really disappointed with the relative simplicity of this game. I think I wanted some extra elements, like another part of the game, something like Goa, for example, where you auction but then have other things going on that build points.
Flowery thoughts. Ra is fun for what it is, and it's especially nice when playing with other Knizia Kickers. It is nice for a short game, however, but if you're friends have this one, you should probably play theirs b/f rushing out to get a copy.
In the future, I will probably even out my auction tiles a bit more, but I've found the most effective way, so far, to win is to score points throughout, then drop your special buildings on everyone. Don't count on pulling out the late victory, unless the other players' vision is somehow blocked from your fat stack of tiles. (I can't stand stockpilers!)
ahh so naive. This game is loved AND hated by my group. The split occurs in husband and wife, religious, non religious, even within the same human being! People either can't stand it or love it. The reason I'm back to loving it is because our normal, deep startegic players wait and wait to try and make judicious pruchases, often holding high suns for a turn. BUT the rounds can end quickly and your left with nothing and as you point out you really want to be amassing a score each round.
I love waiting for people to try and run the gauntlet when they're are only 2 Ra tiles left and they are slammed. Sometimes they pull it off but more often then not they are screwed, so I starting buying earlier but perhaps not buying the absolute best lot. It seems to work and I've now been doing well at Ra. Finally don't overlook defensive buying. Taking a lot that earn you a couple VP but deprives him/her of 10 pts is usually worth it.