Game: Rajas of the Ganges
Designer: Inka Brand and Markus Brand
Published: HUCH! Games
Playtime: 1-2 Hours
Play Type: Worker Placement
In 16th century India, you are trying to rise to power by wealth and fame. You will take on the role of a rajah or rani, an Indian nobleman or noblewoman, to create the best estate in support of the Great Moguls empire. With the help of trade on the Ganges River, spice markets and glorious buildings, your estate will rise to power. Race against your opponents to gain the game and fortune of the empire.
Set-up in Rajas of the Ganges includes each player taking a Province Board, a Kali statue dice holder, three workers of a matching color, and one dice of each color. Players will then roll the dice and place them on their Kali statue for use during the game. Additional workers and scoring cubes will be placed on the board.
During gameplay, players will place their workers to perform a variety of different actions. The goal of these actions is to either add fame or fortune to the player. When a player’s fame and fortune tracker has crossed, the game ends and that player wins. Many of the actions have an associated cost, which can be paid with dice which act as resources in this game. Let’s take a look at some of those actions.
When players place their workers at the palace they can do a variety of different things. The first is the action taken at the outer terrace of the of palace. This action allows a player to take two dollars and reroll as many dice as they would wish. It is a free action. The second thing a player could do in the palace is visit the terrace. This allows a player to take one dice of the specified color. There is no cost associated with this action either. However, if the player were to visit the balconies they would pay a dice of a specified color, for two dice of another specified color. For instance, I may trade in one orange dice for two purple dice. The final action that a player may take in the palace is in the chambers. The chambers allow players to pay one dice with a specific number (not color) to do an action. Here are those actions:
- Great Mogul-Gain 2 fame, and become starting player.
- Dancer-Take 2 dice from the supply, gain a face down yield tile.
- Yogi-Gain 2 karma, and one dice
- Rajas Man Singh– Upgrade a building, and earn 3 money
- Master Builder-Cover a tile with another tile from the supply.
- Portuguese– Advance six spaces on the river
This action allows the player to spend dice to build a tile. Tiles provide a variety of benefits, including one time bonuses and reoccuring benefits. Once a tile is built the player will place the tile on their Province Board, it must attach back to the residence by at least one road. There are two major benefits to individual tiles. One of the benefits are buildings. Buildings immediately provide fame to the player and move their fame tracker up. The other benefit would be the addition of spice markets. When a player builds a spice market, they immediately gain the money that is associated with that spice market. This spice market can then be activated throughout the game at the market place space.
In the market place, players will play a dice, and score the corresponding number of market places on their province. For instance, if a player pays a dice with a value of six, they may then count six of one type of market to score. There are three types of markets: spice, silk and tea. Alternatively, the player may choose to place their worker on the assorted goods space. This allows the player to score one market per type of good, and has no associated dice cost.
The player may place a worker at the harbor to move their boat up on the Ganges. They will have to pay a dice with an associated cost of a one, two or three valued dice. They will then be able to advance up to that many spaces. If a player pays a one value dice, they may only move one space. However, if a player plays a three value dice they can move up to three spaces. Boats may not land on the same space as other player’s vessels.
Each position on the river gives the player a different benefit. While there are too many benefits to detail here, they include things such as gaining karma, gaining dice, gaining game or upgrading buildings. The trip up the Ganges is a one way street, so once players have reached the end of the river, they may no longer take this action.
Rajas of the Ganges is a stunning game to behold on the table. This is because the game comes with a variety of artistically designed components. First off, the board integrates the worker placement spaces in a way that is artful and neat. These spaces do not detract from the artwork, which is detailed and vibrant. Each player gains their own province which are simple and pretty. The Kali Statues stand out as a unique component and add both to the theme and organization of gameplace. One player will start with the first player token which is a 3D cardboard elephant as seen in the picture. The dice are vibrant, and easily distinguishable.
- Beautiful and thematic
- Unique blend of worker placement,resource management and tile placement
- Easy to teach to new players
- Variety of paths to victory
- Replay-ability because of added variants
- Different fame and fortune track creates interesting mechanic
- No direct player interaction
- Luck of the dice can have a large impact on gameplay
Rajas of the Ganges is a unique blend of a variety of different game types. You’ll find aspects of worker placement, tile placement and resource management throughout the entire game, with just a touch of luck. Due to the variety of playstyles and the access to two different score trackers, players really have a lot of choice in their strategy. Players can focus on any of these elements to be successful in the game. I am still playing around with the different strategies to find one that I like to use. If this did not add enough replayability for players, the designers have also included some variants in the box for players to experiment with. The value inside the box is really incredible.
Along with the game play being very strong with a lot of variety, the theme is also strong throughout. Often times in worker placement it is easy to lose track of the theme. However, the choice of components helps keep it clear throughout. I especially like the Kali statues and the first player token.
I was concerned with all of the different aspects of the game that it may be challenging to teach to new players, however I was able to teach this easily not only to seasoned gamers but also to non-gamers. The consistency and simplicity of the symbols on the board make it easy to figure out what each actions does. There is no need for a player aid in this game, which I find is more inviting for new players.
This has been a hit with every person I have played with, including people who do not often enjoy euros. The game is lightweight and quick enough to appeal to those who may not enjoy heavier euros. Some however may not like the lack of player interaction within the game. There is indirect player interaction when a player may take a space that you had intended to play on, but no direct interaction throughout the game. Players may also be frustrated by dice rolls, if they are rolling constantly poorly. Luckily the game has built in safeguards against this with the use of karma and the outer terrace action.
I highly suggest this to people who enjoy tile placement or worker placement games. It has easily landed in my top ten games of this year, and continues to be a joy to get to the table.