- Designer: Reiner Knizia
- Players: 2-5
- Time: 60 Min
Seth – With a name like Ra, you might expect the game to be mystical, ancient or perhaps even sunny. However, beneath the ancient Egyptian deity lies a game both practical and shrewd. Let’s dive in.
On my way into this game I was already expecting big things. The owner of my local game store, Lincoln, had ranked Ra as his number one favorite game. He said he enjoyed games with a bidding aspect, and felt that Ra had done it well. Confident in his opinion, I introduced myself and two novice board gamers to the world of ancient Egypt. The game is pretty simple when you look at the mechanics. The goal is to acquire the most fame by bidding on a set of tiles that each work to improve your legacy in different ways. You get one fame for every river, bonus fame if you have a large amount of unique monuments, and a healthy boost if you have the most pharaohs. You bid on these auctions with one of four sun tokens, each with a number from 1 to 16. You can draw a random tile to put into the auction pot or choose to simply start the auction on your turn. When you win an auction your sun goes into the middle to be collected with the next auction, and the one you take goes face down, unplayable again.
What makes this game interesting is that there are three rounds called epochs. Every round is a whole new bidding game. Not only do your floods (tiles necessary to gain river points) and civilizations (required to simply not lose fame) get trashed every round, but each person will have ended up with a completely different set of sun tiles. There were times when an auction was called with nothing but the sun to purchase in order to better prepare for buying the next epoch. With disaster tiles removing your valuable resources, Ra tiles forcing an auction and potentially ending the epoch early, and god tiles granting the ability to snatch items out of the auction, you’ll very often find your strategy changing. While a player might do well one epoch, odds are the next round they won’t have the high suns to drop on every auction again.
My experience playing was a very good one. Even though I had to read the rules first and explain to my opponents, everyone caught on quickly and were not dissuaded by the many nuances the game held. It seemed to be a close game until the very last epoch, where I was able to entice the others into bidding on auctions I didn’t really want and save my suns for my ultimate plan. I strongly believe had we played it again, it would be a completely different experience and the depth of our intricate plots would continue to grow. I could play this game many times and still not know what to expect next. While the mechanics and bidding won’t change, what your opponents do definitely will… and that is the only necessity to keep this game fresh and exciting every epoch.
Score: Seven Suns out of Tatooine. Hot!