I heard about Rajas of the Ganges when it first came out in 2017. It was pretty well received, but I never really looked into it. But now, as with so many other games, there’s a dice version called
Rajas of the Ganges: The Dice Charmers is a new game by Inka and Markus Brand, published by HUCH! It’s a 2-5 player roll-and-write game where you are trying to increase your wealth and fame in India.
The game comes with two different types of playing sheets, sun and moon. Each player gets a sheet, and it’s recommended that you use the sun board for your first game. Each player also gets a dice depot tile, and must provide their own pen. There’s a 3D elephant that goes in front of the start player (the youngest). There are also eight dice, four in each color.
At the start of each round, the first player rolls the eight dice. They then choose one and take the associated action. The die of the same color that was not chosen is placed on the elephant. The rest of the players in turn order then choose a die and do its associated action, though no more go on the elephant. In a two-player game, each player will end up getting two dice in a round. Each color of die has a different action associated with it.
PURPLE: Obtain Goods.
Each purple die face shows a combination of two goods – tea, silk, and or spices. You’ll circle the first unmarked good that is farthest left on the appropriate track on your sheet. Connecting a road to a symbol on the edge of your map gets you a bonus.
GREEN: Build Roads.
This allows you to connect buildings on your board. Beginning at your residence (which is a specific spot on your board), draw out a straight line through a building, a left or right turn, or two half roads that can be combined or used to create an intersection. You always must place all roads in one space on a turn, and all roads must connect back to your residence. Each time you connect a building, you score immediate fame points. Upgraded buildings are worth more. Markets allow you to sell up to three goods, which gains you money.
BLUE: Advance on the River.
Move to the next unoccupied river space with the symbol shown on the die. The space where you land gets you a bonus. The next time you take a blue die, you’ll advance from your previous spot (the rightmost you have marked). When you have reached the end of the river, you can’t take the blue die any more.
ORANGE: Carry out a Palace action.
Each action is indicated by a face. You’ll mark off one of those actions on your sheet, then you’ll take it.
- The Great Mogul allows you to choose any of the other palace actions without crossing them off.
- The Maharani allows you to immediately advance 1-2 spaces on the river.
- The Trader allows you to sell up to two goods of your choice.
- Raja Man Singh gives you 1 money, and you can upgrade a building.
- The Master Builder gives you two half-roads to place immediately.
- The Portuguese allows you to move BACK 1-2 spaces on the river.
Once everyone has taken a die, pass the elephant. The new start player rolls all 8 dice and the process continues. The game ends at the end of a round when one player’s fame and money tracks intersect. Your final score is how much you exceed this intersection. In other words, if you have gone three spaces past where the two intersected, you score 3. The player whose intersection goes the furthest wins, with karma breaking ties.
Roll-and-writes are of course all the rage, but this one seems to be doing something really different. There are two tracks around the edge, and your goal is not to be the highest on one or the other, but to make them meet in such a way that when they do, you can get as far as possible past the other one. This is a pretty unusual scoring method, and it feels like it makes for some interesting decision space. You want to be shooting up the numbers as fast as you can, but the value doesn’t concern you. That seems cool, and it makes it so everything you can do has weight.
This game is already available digitally, over at Yucata.de if you want to check it out. I’m in the middle of my first game right now, and now that I understand what it’s about, I’m looking forward to trying it out some more.
That’s it for today. As always, stay safe out there and thanks for reading!