Date: 14th May 2004
Game played: Maharaja ( Rio Grande Games ) BGG Id: 9440

This week, although there were just three of us, we were very keen to try Maharaja, the latest collaboration between Wolfgang Kramer and Michael Kiesling. The game is set in 16th century India and each player is trying to build palaces to please the Maharaja. The game board shows 7 cities and numerous surrounding villages with roads leading between the cities and villages. Each player starts as a particular character, which determines turn order, but this can be changed by one of the various actions available to players. On each turn, the Maharaja visits a city and pays out money to those players who have built houses and palaces there, or who has an architect present. The destination of the Maharaja is determined at the beginning of each turn and players have two actions to attempt to improve their position for the scoring in this city, or for future turns or try to hamper other players. There aren't too many options available but there is quite a bit of second-guessing required because everyone chooses their two actions simultaneously but they are carried out according to player order and those playing before you can alter the position, possibly altering the outcome of your actions. The game ends once a player builds their 7th palace or after 10 rounds, whichever comes soonest. The player who has built the most palaces is the winner.

Our game was very tense, with quite a bit of thinking about how to slow others down while advancing your own cause. Turn order can be critical and Nige and I tried a couple of times to catch each other out. Money is very tight and 1 gold piece can make a big difference. At the end, Nige and I both reached 6 palaces on turn 7 but Nige was deprived of gold and this allowed me to nip in and build my 7th palace on the next turn and claim the win.

This was certainly the best gamer's game I've played this year. There is lots to think about and I would expect it to be a strong contender for the Deutscher Spiel Preis this year. We all thought it was excellent and expect to play it again soon.

Mark G

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