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Subject: Hurrah for Ra? rss

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John Bandettini
United Kingdom
London
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I know it’s quite an old game now (10 years), but I had never got around to playing Ra until this week. I find I never know what to expect from a Reiner Knizia game, I’ve loved some and really disliked some, so I tried to go into it with an open mind.

So what’s it all about?

For the benefit of the three of you who have never played Ra, it’s about building an empire in ancient Egypt, and you do it through winning auctions!!! (pretty sure Ramses II didn’t do it that way).

What’s in the box?



Tiles, lots of tiles, you might think you picked up Tigris and Euphrates by mistake. A small board, some rather nice numbered tokens that you use for the auctions and Ra (Well a piece representing Ra, you don’t expect a god to live in a box this size do you?)



Victory point tokens in demoninations of 1, 2, 5 and 10.



The tiles represent all the different parts of your empire, Pharaohs’, Civilization advances, gods, monuments etc.

There is no great wow factor to the components, in fact I think the board is a bit dull, but it’s all functional and does the job.

How does it play?

The game is played over three rounds and whoever has the most victory points after three rounds is the winner.

A round ends when a certain number of Ra tiles have been drawn (Depends on number of players)

On each players turn they can most of the time do one of two actions, draw a tile and put it on the board or call Ra and start an auction. When you have an auction, you will have between one and eight tiles on the board, the auction is for all of them.

Now here is the clever bit (It’s a Knizia game, got to have at least one clever bit), how the auction works. Each player, depending on how many are playing, has either three or four bid tokens. In the three player game for instance the three players have tokens numbered 2 to 13 between them.



The game starts with the 1 value bid token in the middle of the board. Each bidder, starting with the player to the left of the player who called the auction may bid one of their tokens. As all of the Tokens are a different value, there can never be a tie. As long as at least one player bids, the wining player takes all tiles and adds them to his empire. He also takes the bid token in the middle of the board and places it face down in front of him, (He will have this token to use next time) and replaces it with his winning bid.



In this way you never have the same bid tokens two rounds in a row. That is unless you don’t win any bids in a round, and here is a tip if you do that, YOU LOST.

The tiles you bid for include:

Gods, score two points in the current round. Discard at the end of the round (You can also discard a god during your turn to take any one face-up tile from the board

Civilization, -5 points if you don’t have any, 5 points if you have 3 different ones, 10 points for 4 different and 15 points for 5 different. Discard at the end of the round.

Pharaohs’, the fewest -2 points, the most 5 points. Keep all game.

Rivers, 1 point each as long as you have at least one flood. Keep all game.

Floods, 1 point each plus allow you to score rivers. Discard at the end of round.

Gold. 3 points

Monuments, only score at the end of round 3. 1 point for each different one, 10 points for 7 different ones, 15 points for 8 different ones, 5 points for 3 copies of 1 monument, 10 points for 4 copies and 15 points for 5 copies.

Disaster tiles, these do not score points, whoever gets these has to discard two tiles that match the diaster, there are disasters that effect monuments, civilization cards, Pharaohs and rivers.

Ra, do not score points, but cause instant auction and enough of them (8, 9 or 10) end the round.

Also at the end of the last round, you add up the totals of the bid tokens you have. The highest total scores 5 points and the lowest total scores -5 points.

What did I think?

I enjoyed trying to win an empire at an auction. I still find the combination of an auction and empire building a bit on the strange side, but the game plays well and is pretty easy to pick up. It’s a fairly common Knizia thing to have you balance how you play, the negative points for not having things means you can’t for instance just collect monuments or rivers. You really need to get a bit of everything.

The game is quite quick, unless all the players suffer bad AP. It’s a game I will be happy enough to play again, however I don’t think I will be trying to get a copy. I thought to myself after playing, do I want this game? I then thought if I had it would I choose to play it over the other 200+ games I have? And I had to say no, it would get very few plays.

I still think it’s good and if you like auction games and don’t have a large collection it is worth getting. I think a new edition is coming soon as some of the online shops are listing it.


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Matt Hoskins
United States
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Good review! thumbsup

I really enjoy Ra. I find it to be one of the games that I really want to play more often.

But I can relate to owning lots of games and struggling to find motivation to add yet another game ( albeit a good one ) to the collection.
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James Burns
United States
Dupont
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Yes there is a new edition with new artwork ,but I am happy with my Uberplay version.
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Crazy Bob
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This game starts to shine when you figure out how to leverage your low tiles.
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Linda Baldwin
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Nice review. I haven't picked this up myself, as I get enough play on other people's copies. I will say, though, that I'm not keen on auction games, but this is one of the first of that genre that I found enjoyable. The very strict bidding limitations, the various ways of scoring, and the strategy of when to call "Ra", all combine into a rather intricate, yet quite manageable, web of possibilities.
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flakybiscuit
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It's my favorite game for many of the reasons mentioned, but it also shines as a gateway game. The playtime is spot on and the bid evaluation and set collection mechanics really appeal on a basic level to just about everyone I've introduced it to.
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Larry Doherty
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Thanks for the review John. You convinced me, I ordered it.
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