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Subject: Auction like an Egyptian rss

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Greg Berry
United States
Unspecified
Virginia
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RA

Introduction:
A review of the game "Ra", or as someone who isn't as concise might
name it, the "Egyptian Auctions over Three Ages" game. Why did I review this one when it has been reviewed quite well before? Because I
likes me this game, that's why I have a special attachment with it
as I played it with my wife on our second date, and it was replicated
in cake and icing for my groom's cake at my wedding.

Game Objective:
The goal of "Ra" is, as is the case for many Euro games, to have the
most victory points at game end.


Game Components:


15 wooden sun bidding tokens and the "Ra" auction token


Collection of cardboard auction item tiles


Collection of cardboard victory point tiles


Sturdy cardboard playing board with a section for keeping track of the
Ra Tiles drawn for the round and a section to keep track of the up to
eight tiles that may be up for bid for the next auction.


Game Board

The components are nicely illustrated in keeping with the Egyptian
theme of the game and are appropriately sized and shaped for near
optimum use during play.

Set Up:
Each player is given three, (or four depending on the number of
players) wooden sun bidding tokens to start the game with. Each of
these tokens has a unique number on it from one to fifteen but the
initial distribution of the tokens is pre-determined in such a way that
each player starts the game with the same total value of bidding
tokens. Ten victory points worth of scoring tiles are also given to
each player.

Game Summary:
The game is played in three eras. Each era plays out until either all
players have used all of their bidding sun tokens or a set number of Ra
tiles are drawn, with the number that ends the era being determined by
the number of players. At the end of each era players score points.
At the end of the third era additional scoring rules are added.

Game Play:

Play proceeds in a clockwise manner. A player may play as long as they
have an unused wooden bidding token in front of them. During each
player turn a player has two valid options to choose from for their
turn (three if they have a god tile):

Option 1. They may raise the Ra Figure to begin an auction (see
below for auction details.)


Ra Figure Raised to Start An Auction

Option 2. Drawing a random tile from the bag of tiles. All but
the Ra tiles are added to the set of tiles to be won during the next
auction. The Ra tile automatically starts an auction.


Customized Bag Holding Ra Tiles Waiting to Be Drawn


There four types of tiles that may be drawn from the bag:

Accumulated Scoring Tiles


1. Land tile - When combined with at least one water tile, land tiles
score one point for each scoring phase.
2. Monument tile - Scores a different number of points at the end of
the game depending on the number of identical tiles possed by that
player(i.e. one or two of the same tile scores only one point but 3 of
a kind scores five points, and four of a kind scores ten points.) The
owning player also scores more points at the end of the game depending
on the number of different types of monument tiles they own.
3. Pharoah Tile - The player(s) who has the most of these tiles during
scoring of a round gets five points. The player(s) who has the fewest
of these tiles during scoring of a round loses two points.


Discarded Scoring Tiles


1. Flood tile - Scores one point for the owning player for one scoring
phase and is discarded at the end of the scoring phase. A player must
own at least one water tile at the start of a scoring phase in order to
get any scoring credit for any land tiles they own.
2. God Tile - Is either worth two points and then discarded or can be
used during a players turn in place of drawing a tile or starting an
auction as described below under "Option 3."
3. Gold Tile - Is simply worth three points and then is discarded.
4. Civilization Tile - Any player that does not have any civilization
tiles loses five points. If you have three different color
civilization tiles you score five points and four different colored
civilization tiles scores ten points.

Destructive Tiles

1. Drought tile - Destroys two flood or land tiles. Flood tiles must
be lost first.
2. Monument Destruction - Player must remove from play any two of
their land monument tiles.
3. Civilization Destruction - Player must remove from play any two of
their civilization tiles.
4. Pharoah Destruction - Player must remove from play two of their
accumulated pharoah tiles.

Ra Tile
A round of play continues until enough Ra tiles are drawn from the bag
to fill up a number of spaces that is determined by the number of
players. Except for the last Ra tile draw, which ends the round, a Ra
tile simply forces an auction to occur (see the Auction section below
for details on auctions.)


A Ra Tile

Option 3.Using a god tile.

A player possessing a god tile may discard the god tile and acquire any
one tile from the tiles that are on the auction track (i.e. tiles that
other players drew but have not yet been auctioned off.)

 

god tiles

Auctions:

Auctions are started when a player voluntarily chosess to start one by
raising the wooden Ra token (see player option one above) or when a
player draws a Ra tile (see Ra tile above.) Auctions are resolved in a
single round with each player, starting with the player to the left of
the player who initiated the auction. Each player in turn may pass, or
offer a single one of their unplayed wooden sun bidding number tokens
as a bid. A bid must be of a higher number than the previous player to
be a valid bid. The highest bid wins the auction and all associated
tiles (good or bad). The winning player then takes the scoring tile
from the center of the board that was the winning bid of the previous
auction and places it face down in front of them (this bid tile can
only be used again at the start of the next era.) A player who
initiated an auction by raising the wooden Ra symbol must make a bid if
no one else has. A player that initiated an auction by drawing a Ra
tile is under no obligation to place a bid.

End of Game

Once three eras are completed the game ends. The tiles are scored as
normal except the monument tiles are scored at this time only. Also,
whichever player has the highest total value of bid tokens gets five
points and the player with the lowest total value of bid tokens loses
five points.

My Rating:
I rate Ra . It is a good gateway game
and should entertain most hobby gamers but be teachable to others. As
it is primarily an auction game it should be avoided by those who are
turned off by that game mechanic. All other gamers should give it a
try as it is a Knizia classic.

Strategy Tips:

Ra has a significant amount of randomness to it as the tiles drawn both
provide the value for any given auction and provide a random mechanism
for when each era of the game ends. That said there is plenty of skill
in the game.

There are three tile acquisition tasks a player should consider every
era:

1. Getting at least one civilization tile. Losing five points for not
having one is a start on the pathway to losing the game.
2. Knowing your standing in pharoahs. If you can easily get the
lead in the number of pharoahs early in the game it could propel you to
fifteen points over the course of the game, or at the least prevent you
from losing two points an era. Losing two points in pharoahs may not
be fatal but it is deleterious if you lose two points and other players
are gaining five.
3. Getting a flood tile if you have significant number of land tiles.
Land tiles only score when coupled with a flood. There are only a
limited number of flood tiles so your opportunities for acquiring one
may be severely limited. Acquiring a flood without owning many land
tiles may also be very valuable if it prevents someone else who has a
lot of land tiles from acquiring one.

Outside of those tasks the player must get the most value they can for
their bidding tokens. A player must recognize the value of their
bidding tokens in relation to the value of their opponents tiles.

When possessing lower valued bidding tokens:

1. Make sure that no one auction is allowed to become to valuable.
Start an auction before the set of tiles to be auctioned is worth a
great deal. An auction of five or more positive tiles is usually quite
valuable and should not be allowed to form if you can help it.
2. Get your Civilization and/or flood tile early. These tile types
tend to become more valuable as an era is drawing closer to conclusion.

When possessing higher valued bidding tokens:

1. Try to let an auction become as valuable as possible. Large sets
of positively valued tiles are your friends. Winning four or more
positive tiles (with no negative tiles) is often worth bidding a large
bidding token for.
2. Don't be afraid to spend the high value bid tokens. A high value
bid token which isn't used because the era ends before you get a chance
to use it is a waste. Don't waste the power just because you like
having the option of winning any one auction.

General considerations:

1. If their is a low numbered bidding tile to be won with the auction
the auction is worth a little less than otherwise.
2. If their is a negative (i.e. destructive) tile included in the set
of tiles to be won it can sour the auction for one or more players.
I.E. if the auction includes a civilization destruction tile and you
currently have no civilizations then the civilization destruction tile
isn't a negative for you but may severely hurt someone else. Use the
negative tiles to your advantage where possible.
3. If you are the last player to have at least one bidding token while
the era hasn't ended you are in a good position for acquiring a lot of
tiles for a minimum of expense. There are no guarantees however so
generally when five or more good tiles are available you should take
them and not get too greedy (there is always the chance for a run of Ra
tiles or some destructive tiles to be drawn.) It's great fun being the
one who repeatedly gets to draw tiles while the other players shout "Ra
Ra Ra" at you in encouragement for you to end the round prematurely by
drawing the final Ra tile for the era.




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Jim Cote
United States
Maine
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This is a nice review, but why all the fake text wrapping? Let the browser do it. If you are using copy/paste from Notepad, make sure you turn off line wrapping before you copy the text.
 
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Kane Klenko
United States
Ridgeway
Wisconsin
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The ancient Egyptians liked to use fake text wrapping. He's just trying to stay in theme.
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Got two game tables and a microphone
United States
New York
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Sorry, I have to flag this review, cuz now I have the Bangles in my head.
 
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Chris Valk
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Nice review! As a new player, I appreciate the strategy tips in particular.
 
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