There was a maths trade on BoardGameGeek recently and I traded away some unpopular games for new territory. One I had meant to take off the list was Ankh Morpork - inevitably I got it in the trade - and another was Raj.
Raj alleges itself to be an "outrageous" bidding game, which is a lot of hype to live up to for a card game in a board-game sized box. I'd read the basic game was OK but the Tournament version was quite addictive, so was looking forward to trying it.
The game is very simple - there are 15 tiles; valued 1-10 and -1 to -5. Each player has 15 bidding cards and when a tile is drawn randomly from a the pile and revealed, everyone makes a bid. The highest bidder picks up the value tile, the lowest bidder receives the minus tiles (which are, as you may have guessed, bad).
But if there are any identical bids, they cancel each other out, so you have to be very careful about when you play your high cards. Stanley really liked this game and keeps asking to play it, so we've played 3-handers with Little Joe and two-player games against each other. Joe's tactic of always playing his highest card didn't get him anywhere, and when I suggested he play some low cards he took me at my word and played his lowest card every time instead. The result: he wiped the floor with us! I'm pleased to say that tactic only worked as a one-off, however. Stan and I twice played high cards that tied, giving Joe easy (default) pickings early on with his low-value cards.
Andrew liked it too - you need to keep track of what tiles are left and, if you can, what cards your opponent has. It's very moreish and we played three times on the trot.
We also played Ankh Morpork, which was pretty dull - silly of me to suggest it for two but I wanted to try it again. I am baffled it's relatively high rating considering the randomness and repetition though.
And as the evening closed out we bashed out 7 Wonders - Andrew took the sciences route, but passed a lot of science cards to Dirk, meaning I grabbed a convincing win. Only Gonz has really made the sciences look indomitable, and that was in a game where Andrew I kept passing them to him thinking he was digging his own test-tube grave. We won't make that mistake again!
I'll bring Raj on Tuesday - it plays the basic game in ten minutes and hosts up to five.