For a long time Ra was my favorite game. Then a little game called Dominion came around and pushed Ra down to number two. Ra is a fantastic auction game from the designer Reiner Knizia. For those who don't know, Reiner Knizia is a German board game designer and has made a ton of games including: Lost Cities, Keltis, Tigris and Euphrates, Modern Art, and a bunch of others. Ra, in my opinion, is his best.
Here's the game overview from the rule book: "The game spans three epochs, which reflect the history of ancient Egypt:
- the Old Kingdom (2665 - 2155 BC)
- the Middle Kingdom (2130 - 1650 BC)
- the New Kingdom (1555 - 1080 BC)
During these epochs, the players acquire tiles representing various aspects of Egyptian life. Tiles are acquired in auctions when tokens are received from RA. The selection of tiles in the auction is ever changing, but tokens from RA are limited. Skillful players choose carefully when and how much to bid in order to get the tiles they want. When an epoch ends, players receive tablets marked with the fame points they have earned. The player with the most fame after the three epochs is the winner."
The game comes with a board, 18o tiles, 48 tablets (to keep score with), 16 suns (used for the auctions), 1 RA figure, and a cloth bag to keep all of the tiles in.
To set up the game, the board is place in the middle of the table and the suns are separated into groups of three depending on how many people are playing. Each of the suns have a number ranging from 1 to 16. Each person gets a random group of suns that they will use to start the game with. Now you're ready to play.
The person with the highest sun tile goes first and can do one of the following actions:
1. Draw one tile from the bag
2. Play God Tiles
3. Invoke Ra
The board consists of two tracks, the Ra track and the auction track. If the player draws a Ra tile it is placed on the Ra track, and if a player draws any other tile it is placed on the auction track. When a Ra tile is drawn an auction is triggered.
The person who triggered the auction takes the Ra figure and the auction begins with the player to the left. The players are then bidding for tiles that are in the auction track. The winner will also receive the sun in the sun space on the board. Each player in turn may bid one of their face up suns by placing it on the edge of the board. Bids subsequent to the first must be greater than the previous bid. The player with the highest bid takes all of the tiles on the track and places them face up in their player area in front of them. The player also takes the sun from the board and places it face down in from of him. This sun can not be used in this round. The sun that was used to win the auction replaces the sun taken from the middle of the board. Play then resumes with the person to the left of the one who drew the Ra tile.
If a player has won a God tile in a previous auction he may use the God tile during his turn to take any tile that is currently on the auction track. This completes the players turn and play resumes to the player to left. God tiles not used add additional point to the players score at the end of the round.
The final action that can be used during a players turn is invoking Ra. When a player invokes Ra he takes the Ra figure and places it in his playing area. An auction them begins. When a player invokes Ra he MUST bid during the auction round.
Once the Ra track has been filled the round is over and the rounds scoring begins. To begin the next round all suns are turned over and a new round starts.
So why do want all these crazy tiles anyway. You get points in the current round and points at the end of the game depending on which tiles you get during the auctions. The different types of tiles include: Pharaohs, Nile and floods, gold, civilizations, monuments, and disasters. You need to be careful when gaining tiles because points are awarded, or taken away, for having the most or least of a certain group at the end of an epoch. There are also monument tiles that you keep until the end of the game and are only scored at the end of the game. This requires some planning on what kind of strategy you want to take. I've seen game where a person doesn't have a whole lot of points through the first two round, but has a huge third round due to all of the monument tiles they have.
After all the tiles from the third round have been scored the players sum up the total numbers on their suns. The person with the highest total gets 5 points and the person with the lowest total gets negative 5 points. Scores are then totaled and the person with the highest total wins!
I love Ra! There's some really fun decisions that you have to make during the game. Should I bid, or should I wait? Should I invoke Ra, even though it's going to make everyone else mad? Should I go for the monuments, or try and get some extra points for the round with civilization, flood, or pharaoh tiles? There's enough luck in the game to keep it interesting, and a good strategy almost always gives you a chance to win. So for a great light strategy board game, I would definitely recommend Ra. Thanks for reading and happy gaming.