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Fabulous bidding game. The currency is not convertible, and each lot is of different value to each person. I love that you are also bidding for currency. Easy to teach despite all of the different tiles. Push your luck. Plus you get to shout "RA!" The problem is that it can be dependent on the luck of the draw when only one person is left bidding. But players should be taking that opportunity into consideration, so it fits right into the game.
GAMEPLAY Players take on the role of… pharaohs? (it’s a Knizia game, all right?) who are glorifying their empire, beseeching the gods for aid, coping with catastrophes, and taking advantage of the ebb and flow of the Nile. That makes the game sound way more thematic than the simple auction game that it is. On a turn, a player can take three actions. They can flip a tile and add it to the auction board, initiate an auction, or use a god tile to get something from the auction board. If a player wins an auction, they must give up one of the sun tiles in their possession, take the sun tile on the main board, and add all the tiles—good or bad—to their tableau. Once a player has spent all of their sun tiles, they can no longer participate in any auctions for that epoch. Once either all players have used their sun tiles or the Ra track is completely full, an epoch ends, and three epochs comprise a game. THOUGHTS Ra, on first glance, looks rather dull. But, although it is a simple game, it is, in my opinion, the most enjoyable of Knizia’s well-known auction games (i.e., Modern Art, Medici, and Amun-Re being the others). First off, the auction mechanic where everyone gets a certain set of different-valued sun tiles to play for a round makes the auctions tight but quick moving. Plus, there is the added incentive of getting a high-valued sun tile to use for the next epoch. The auctions are heightened by the mechanic of the Ra tiles, which force auctions to happen and are the clock for each epoch. The other aspect of the game is the tableau building. Gold and god tiles give you big in-game VP. Culture tiles are necessary if you wish to avoid taking big penalties but can also help you increase your score greatly. Flood tiles score in-game VP but only if you have the rarer Nile tiles. Pharaoh tiles cause a lot of competition as your score (or penalty!) for those completely depend on how many your opponents are actively collecting. And, of course, monument tiles lead to big end-game scoring VP. I only have two negatives for the game. One, the game should come with player boards, but, fortunately, kind BGG users have some great files available to download. (I think the new edition might have fixed this issue but I’m not sure.) And two, I don’t like the game at five players as it is too chaotic. PROS -Beautiful, solid components in the old version, and I love the art style. -Gameplay is simple, yet very interactive with the way auctions can be initiated or forced. -Example of a game that actually has a fun push-your-luck mechanic. -Tableau building is interesting and provides many different ways to score. NEUTRAL -I don’t like the five-player game as I don’t feel like I have significant enough agency. -The Egyptian theme, as with almost any theme in a Knizia game, is paper thin, but I personally like it. CONS -Game should have come with player boards.
Very elegant (except for all the scoring options which can feel a little burdensome to explain to newbies) Knizia auction masterpiece that revolves around the concept that a shitty number to bid can be very powerful if you call the auction at the right time. It might be a bit dry, but there is something just fun about collecting sets of tiles too.
My favorite of the "Knizia auction trilogy". While I like Medici a lot, this one is much more focused than that game. I also find Modern Art oddly dry, and at points it seems that you have less control than this game.
Had to bump up the rating because of the tension in the last couple of games. I very much like the push your luck part of it which really heightens the atmosphere. 2009-09-28 - Bought
I wanted to buy one Reiner Knizia auction game. Even though this one was one of the more expensive of the options, it was also the one that gave me the happiest feelings when playing or watching gameplay videos. Introduced it to both gamers and non-gamers with much success. Knizia is still the king of welding simple mechanics with incredible depth.