Reiner Kniza’s Ra is one of the first games released by Codito Development (aka Sage Games), alongside Medici. Having never played the board game it is based off I can only draw from my impressions of the app itself. The game doesn’t really seem to capture the theme, and there are no real explanations on winning strategies. Fortunately, they’re not really needed as the strategy is not intensely deep.
[Editors note: This is the same review published previously in May this year, but we identified a technical error that prevented votes from being cast. We've fixed that, and pushed this to the front page, so please vote if you weren't able to the first time. Thanks!]
The premise of the game is that one plays one of eight ancient Egyptian gods, each of which is seeking to build up the Egyptian empire under their influence to its peak. The game takes place over three epochs of old, middle and new kingdoms, where each god seeks to build up their dynasty of pharoahs, develop technologies of early civilisation and great monuments.
I have to say, based on the premise of the game I find the gameplay a bit disappointing. When reading the above, I kind of expect an involved strategy game where there is a satisfying gathering of resources and cultivating dynasties and power. Instead the game can be reduced to a series of auctions for random draws of tiles. Considering that Sage Games released Medici at about the same time, which also featured auctions over random lots its probable they replicated much of the AI here to seemingly get out two different games.
However, the above should not necessarily be taken as an admonishment of either Reiner Kniza or Sage. Sage are simply working with the game they’re given, and from what I can tell they have authentically replicated the game. Kniza still provides a decent game, but not one that I feel captures the themes of god-like dynastic civilisation building at all.
Roughly speaking, there a few categories of attributes of civilisation that you need to acquire and have more of them than your opponent does.
Sage have done a good job of leading me through the game. Not knowing any of the rules, I didn’t particularly want to sit and trawl through documents on my ipad while trying to learn the game. Though not possessed of an in depth tutorial, there are enough notices to ensure you have a rough framing of the game when you jump right in. After that, it’s a matter of experimentation as you’re not going to likely know why you’re doing anything until you’ve seen all the scoring.
The graphics aren’t as slick as some that I’ve seen, but they certainly capture the aesthetic of the ancient Egypt and this can perhaps help suspend the disbelief that this is a game about god-like dynasties. However the animations are smooth, if sometimes a bit repetitive, which itself can be detrimental since there are many aspects of the game which are repetitive in their own right. Emphasising those repetitions in animations slightly longer than necessary can only serve to point that out (fortunately for us, the developers have included options to tinker with animation and AI speeds, so you can at least minimise their impact).
The game uses both a pass’n’play and a single player AI mechanism. For the most part the AI is a reasonable opponent as I cannot simply guarantee a win by out thinking the computer. It seems able to make reasonable assessment about potential bids and longer term implications. It is at this point that the game begins to shine, because it brings out the strategizing necessary for a game fundamentally about auctions and anticipating opponents bids.
Reiner Kniza’s Ra is available as a universal app with different graphic templates for both the iPad and iPhone.
7/10: It is a decent choice if you’re wanting a quick and light game to distract you for a ten minute span, but not one that would provide a preferred distraction with other substantial options.