“Are you tired of the overgrown weeds and dead grass you call a ‘lawn’? Do you wish you could just summon water without leaving the comfort of your Barcalounger? Do you, for some reason, love birds? Have I got the product for YOU!”
Begin shamanistic chanting track.
Lower the volume of the chanting.
“This game….NAY, this life changing experience, will allow you to create the world you always wanted…”
Zoom in uncomfortably close to Tony’s face as he whispers…
“The way YOU always wanted it!”
Zoom out, simultaneously bringing the chanting to a crescendo.
Cut all sound, fade to black, cue legalese read at 500 words per minute.
“This product will not fix your lawn, groundwater issues or those woodpeckers ruining your trees. Not suitable for children under 10. MSRP doesn’t matter as most of you buy online anyways.”
Rauha is a competitive engine-building game with a card drafting mechanism for two to five players. Games last around 45 minutes regardless of player count.
The game is made up of four rounds, with each player taking three turns each round. After every round, a scoring phase takes place. Each turn consists of the following 5 steps:
Draft a Biome card – players draft a card from the pile indicated by their Avatar’s place adjacent to their board.
Place or discard the drafted Biome card – players may either place (and pay their required costs, if any) the drafted card on their board or discard the it for either four crystals (money) or a spore (to be explained later).
Receive a Divine Entity – if a player manages to place three of the same biome or animal type in a row or column, they claim the matching Divine Entity.
Activate your Avatar and Divine Entity – players will collect the rewards from the line/row their Avatar is adjacent to, as well as from Divine Entities earned this turn.
Move your Avatar one space clockwise.
If this is the end or a round, the following will be scored: Divine Entities, Biome cards with a spore on it, and Water sources.
NOTE: At the start of round 3, the Age 1 Biome cards are swapped out for Age 2 Biome cards, which are more expensive to place, but also more rewarding.
The game ends after the scoring phase after the fourth round. The player with the most points wins the game.
Rauha is an absolute treat to play. Creating your engine is really enjoyable. It is a very tactical game because your engine will only consist of 12 cards in total. Choosing not only which card to draft but where (or if, in case you discard it for money or a spore) to place it is the key to victory. Do you try to place three biomes/animals in a row to earn an early Divine Entity? Do you try to maximize points for the current and future rounds? Or do you stockpile money to afford the more expensive cards from Age 2?
As the turns go by and your Avatar moves around the board, seeing the impact of your choices scoring more points, stealing Divine Entities from your opponents, or capitalizing on a well-placed spore that scores multiple times throughout the game is when the game shines. The best part? There are multiple paths to victory. As previously stated, the game is very tactical. You cannot rely on one guaranteed way to win as you may not get the cards that are most efficient for that strategy. I have played this game at multiple player counts, with multiple experience levels, both in gaming and in playing Rauha specifically. I have yet to determine a dominant scoring strategy.
Just as importantly, Rauha is also very accessible. It is an easy teach (the rulebook is only four pages). It also includes an excellent game aid for the turns and Divine Entity powers. After a turn or two, you will easily understand the basics of the game. At the end of the first game, you will understand how the scoring works, the movement of your avatar, spores, and how to better maximize your points.
Finally, the game lasts about 45 minutes, increasing slightly at higher player counts, due to the simultaneous drafting. I love games that allow the addition of more players without having an exponential increase in playing time. Rauha more than fits that bill.
I only have two downsides to the game.
My main gripe is that the game’s theme is stapled on. I did not feel like a Shaman. Your actions are to lay down a card or get money/a spore. None of these actions are tied to being a shaman. The game could have been a city builder. Draft a contract to construct different buildings and get bonuses for having similar districts together. It could have been a Mediterranean trading simulator. Draft trade routes and get bonuses for having a monopoly on trade goods. I just wish some of the mechanisms were tied to being a shaman, like asymmetrical special powers to move cards or add animals.
My only other issue is that the draft only involves the player on your left and right. In four-or-five-player games, you are powerless to stop one or two players through hate drafting. In 7 Wonders, even though I am only directly interacting with my neighbors, I can still impact the cards that are being passed to all of my opponents. I am not an expert in game design, but I imagine this is due to the four-card pool at the start of each round. If cards passed left only one round and right only the next, the game would have less strategy since you would not know as many cards as you do in this format.
I truly enjoyed Rauha. It is a fun engine builder that is easy to teach but has difficult choices due to the limited number of turns. I love the multiple paths to victory, as well as how fast the game plays due to simultaneous play. I highly recommend Rauha!
Final Score: 4 Stars – An excellent engine builder with drafting that plays quickly and works at all player counts.
• Theme is stapled on
• Drafting limited to your left and right opponents