Priests of Ra
List Price: $34.95
Your Price: $27.99
(Worth 2,799 Funagain Points!)
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Another challenging game of Gods, men, and their monuments from Reiner Knizia!
The game spans 1500 years of Egyptian history. The priests of Ra seek to extend their power and fame. They do this by directing farmers, warriors, merchants, and scribes. They cause others to build granaries, fortresses, markets, and libraries. And they erect a gigantic pyramid for the glory of the Sun God Ra!
Ra has been around for a very long time in the gaming community and it is still a staple at East Coast gaming conventions. The game is truly a classic, one that I will gladly give five stars to. I was fortunate enough to win the Ra tournament at World Boardgaming Championships several years ago. I looooove this game and never tire of it, having played probably a hundred times or so over the years. Which made Priests of Ra a must buy when I saw it. So how was the sequel going to measure up to this Ra veteran?
To start, Priests of Ra is quite simply original Ra with different tiles and different scoring mechanisms. If you purchase this game and have played Ra before you can skip straight to what the new tiles do and how they are scored.
Does that make Priests of Ra a knock-off designed to lure money from gamers pockets? Fortunately, Priests of Ra received almost unanimous thumbs-up from my gaming circle. One of the features that players liked is that many of the tiles come with two sides. When a player draws a tile he may have the option of playing a pyramid piece, worker, or building in one of two different colors. Scoring is based largely on matching the proper colors, so this adds just a bit to the strategy side of the game. There are also Priests in the game, which allow a player to flip a tile he has just won or is in front of him to a different color. Another significant change involves the calamity tiles. In original Ra there are ten different calamity tiles that affect different tiles a player owns. It has been simplified in Priests of Ra. There are still ten calamities, but now they are all the same. Calamities stay with a player throughout the game and are worth negative points. They score -1 if a player has 1, -3 for 2, -6 for three and so on. Very occasionally a player can rid himself of a calamity if he acquires three Priests in an epoch, but by and large these negatives will make a layer think hard about acquiring an auction.
And that is ultimately the beauty of both Ra and Priests of Ra. Both of these games are straightforward bidding games. Being able to discern value, along with a little luck and bidding management, separates the winner from his competitors.
While I think this game may ultimately be a little better designed than the original, I have a difficult time giving this game more than 4 stars because it is in fact very similar to its much-played predecessor. If you have played Ra over the years and enjoyed it there simply isn't that much new to this game. A valid question might be "why do I want two of essentially the same game?" If you have never played Ra, however, I'd recommend starting with this game instead. It is the better of the two games mechanically. But boy does it have big shoes to fill.