Saturday, February 6, 2016

Systems Saturday - Ra (1999)

Lately, we've been playing the clever little game of Ra (1999).  It's a Reiner Knizia design that combines auctioning, set collecting, and has a press your luck element.  It plays very quickly, under an hour.  With the right three people, I could see this game regularly running lass than half an hour.  This game could benefit from a tile drawing bag; a big one.  Much of the time we spend on it is for setup, and that's too bad because we play it a lot and would probably even play it more if there was less hassle to it.

The description from Board Game Geek is as follows:
Ra is an auction and set-collection game with an Ancient Egyptian theme. Each turn players are able to purchase lots of tiles with their bidding tiles (suns). Once a player has used up his or her suns, the other players continue until they do likewise, which may set up a situation with a single uncontested player bidding on tiles before the end of the round occurs. Tension builds because the round may end before all players have had a chance to win their three lots for the epoch. The various tiles either give immediate points, prevent negative points for not having certain types at the end of the round (epoch), or give points after the final round. The game lasts for three "epochs" (rounds). The game offers a short learning curve, and experienced players find it both fast-moving and a quick play.
From the Box: 
The game spans 1500 years of Egyptian history in less than an hour! 
The players seek to expand their power and fame and there are many ways to accomplish this: Influencing Pharaohs, Building monuments, Farming on the Nile, Paying homage to the Gods, Advancing the technology and culture of the people. Ra is an auction and set collecting game where players may choose to take risks for great rewards or... And all this is for the glory of the Sun God Ra!

There's a fairness to this game that cannot be denied.  You make your own fate from round to round.  You're playing chicken with your opponents even as your mining the tiles for the best combinations and points.  Taking negative points in this game can ruin your chances to score well.  I'd definitely advise making sure to get a Civilization tile and gaining enough Pharaoh tiles to not have the fewest.  There's simply little chance to win if you have received penalties for either situation more than once, sometimes at all.  Keep a close eye on the Monuments.  I've seen a nice set of Monuments win someone the game more than a few times and it can even help with a comeback.  God tiles are useful as are the Money tiles but they're not crucial.  If you can get a God tile early in any given round, it's worth throwing it in to snag something to assist in another set as often as not.  The Nile and Flood tiles have rarely seemed very important in the games we have played.  They add up, granted, but not often to a whole lot.

A look under the hood of various Games, Rules and Systems.
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