Review: Reiner Knizia's Ra (universal binary), by Codito Development Inc.
Reiner Knizia’s Ra (universal binary), by Codito Development Inc
• Interesting game play
• Multiple levels of challenge
• Replay-ability is high
• Limited multiplayer options
• Game can be tedious at times (see below)
First off, I have no idea who Reiner Knizia is. A quick search on Wikipedia tells me he is a board game designer for “German-style board games” (I have no idea what that means). I do know there are many “Reiner Knizia” games available in the app store, many of which I am going to review. Ra is one of those. It is a universal binary, so I am going to post the same review for the iPad and iPhone forums, just changing the pictures that are uploaded.
I am not going to go through the details on the rules, simply because they are fairly convoluted and complex. However, the basic gist of the game is as follows: You attempt to gain points by collecting “tiles” that are held in a community pot. The most common way to collect tiles is to bid on them against your opponents. Depending the type of tile, you get various point awards during each of the three rounds. Tile types include pharaohs, nile/flood, monument, and civilization tiles. There are also money and god tiles that help out as well. In some cases, if you have the fewest (or don’t have any) of a certain type of tile, you lose points.
The game play is a simple, turn based game. During your turn you can choose to start the bidding process, steal a tile from the pot (if you already have a god tile), or draw a new tile to put into the pot. The turns continue until the round (or epoch) is over, and then points are tallied. Three rounds are played, and the winner is simply the one at the end of the game with the most points.
When I first tried this game, I had no idea how to play (as I said, very complicated). And surprisingly enough, I won! I then started to understand the rules, tried to develop various strategies, and kept on losing. Finally, after playing enough times, you begin to learn the ins and outs of the game, and I find I am winning again. When setting up a game, you can choose between two and five players, either human players or AI players. The AI players are ranked (8 different ones) but I don’t know if that actually has to do with a difficulty value. I think so, as I found some of the higher ranked ones more difficult, but that may have just been a random fluke.
As you can guess, there are multiplayer options. You can choose either a “hot-seat” style play, where the device (iPad or iPhone) is in the center (on a table or something) and you simply take turns. Or you can pass the iPad/iPhone around (the description lists this as two different modes of multiplayer games, but really it is the same). Unfortunately there are no other options (wifi, Bluetooth, network) for multiplayer games.
The design of the game is very nice, on both the iPad and the iPhone. The game board is very nice, a lot of intricate detail. The iPad version of the game makes good use of the extra space, giving you more information about the game in progress, but the iPhone version doesn’t really feel like it is lacking anything.
However, there is a lot of unnecessary movement (animation) when playing the game, which can drag the game down a little bit. Sands blowing around, tiles getting swallowed up in holes, these things all take their time. In addition, if you are out of bids to try to get new tiles (which can happen) leaving only the iPhone AI opponents, the game doesn’t speed up at all. There is an option for this which I tried to select, but I didn’t notice any difference. The other big issue I have is that the game crashed somewhat regularly. Not often, but at least once every two or three games it would crash and close. The good news is that I didn’t lose my game and I was able to resume right where I got kicked out, but it was annoying.
All in all, this is a fun, fairly unique board game that I have already played many times. While I would like to see expanded multiplayer options, it is still fun to play on your own (and presumably more fun if you get a friend to play against you!). The graphics are very nice, although it does slow down a little bit at times. For $4.99, it’s a fun game to play, and if you like board games along the lines of Civlization and Settlers, you may enjoy this game as well. Four out of five stars.
* = No redeeming qualities or features, probably not worth it even if it is free
** = Few redeeming qualities, or is simply isn't worth the price
*** = Some good features but also some clear flaws.
**** = A solid app, worth the money if interested, a few flaws or problems or slightly overpriced
***** = Top of the line app, no problems or drawbacks.
Price is factored into the ratings. Ratings are lowered if I feel the price of the app outweighs the benefits/enjoyment/features it provides. Likewise, an app that is a good value for the money will have a higher rating.