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Rauha

We probably don't need to trouble ourselves overly with the premise and thin 'theme' for Rauha about shaman using their powers to re-seed life on dead planet. Rauha is a card drafting, pattern and engine building game where the 2-5 players are selecting cards, alternately from the left and right, and overlaying them on their individual 3 x 3 grids. The game is designed by Johannes Goupy and Théo Riviere, with art by O'lee. It is published by GRRRE Games and distributed in the UK by Hachette Boardgames.



A marker moves around the edge of players' boards indicating which row or column is activated that turn. After players have drafted and placed out the card they have taken, the column or row is activated: players gain the benefits indicated in the three affected squares. Typically, these benefits will be to give you points or crystals. Points are obviously what you need to accumulate for victory but you'll often need to pay crystals to place the more desirable cards: if you don't have the crystals to pay for its placement, you can't draft that card. During the drafting round, tho', you can discard the card you draft in exchange for four crystals. In our plays at Board's Eye View, we found ourselves dumping cards for crystals not just because we needed those crystals for future placements but also to deny the card to an opponent who would probably want to acquire it on the next turn.


Some cards let you exchange crystals for points and there are cards, and a default position on your starting grid, that lets you spend crystals to place out a 'spore' token. Cards with spore tokens on them will activate not just when their row and column is activated but also at the end of each round (when the turn marker reaches a corner). This is where the engine building kicks in: you'll ideally want to have spores placed out that generate you crystals, points and the opportunity to place out more spores.



Of course there's more. As you might guess with a 3 x 3 grid, there are three-in-a-row 'divine entity' bonuses that can be collected when the squares in any row or column have the same icon. You take the relevant token and get the bonus immediately (mostly an additional 3 points) but you'll get it again if you still have the token at the end of a round. That's a big 'if', however, as an opponent takes the token from you if they subsequently get the same three-in-a-row. You'll find most of the tokens yo-yo back and forth through the course of the game.


Finally, there are water icons. These too are scored at the end of each round. They score points based on the difference between your total of water drop icons and those of the player with the least. If a player overlays the default space that gives them some water and fails to draft any other water cards, then another player who has clocked up several water icons (and maybe taken the three-in-a-row token that gives them two more) can get a massive points bonus that can dwarf the points being collected by other players, especially in the first couple of rounds of the game before players have built effective engines.


There's a turn order, with the player in the lead always going first, but that's really only relevant for the three-in-a-row bonuses and for keeping an eye on other players' relative water supply, where it can be advantageous to be making your card placement after other players. In fact, much of the play in Rauha is simultaneous, which means this is a game which plays quickly and has very little downtime, even with the full complement of five players.


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