Designer: Wolfgang Panning
Publisher: Queen Games
Times played: 3 (with review copy provided by Queen Games)
Maharani is a nice tile-laying game with a twist (literally). In the game, players are working to build the mosaic tile floor of the palace. The twist in the game is a rotating display of tiles which is turned and twisted at the start of each player’s turn. The palace itself is split into quarters, with each quarter having 14 spaces. Each space has at least one column (black circle or semi-circle) on it which determines which tiles can be played there – the column pattern on the tile must match that on the board.
Players also have a little player board which is also split into quarters. On each quarter is placed an animal token which matches the symbols found on the game board for each section. There are 6 colors of tiles (10 of each color), and these are all placed in a bag. The rondel is filled with tiles from the bag – each tile is oriented so that the arrow on the tile matches the direction of the arrow on the rondel.
On your turn, you have 2 options – you can either place tiles or you can refresh your animal markers. But at the start of your turn, you first turn the rondel. The rondel has an arrow on it, and on each player’s turn, the rondel is twisted around so that the arrow is pointing towards their side of the board. When this is done, the rondel will have one tile oriented in each quarter of the board. If there are any empty spaces on the rondel, new tiles are drawn from the bag and the rondel is refilled.
1) Placing tiles – if you choose this action, you must place at least one tile, though you have the option of placing a second. You choose amongst the four tiles found on the rondel. For no cost, you can place a tile in the same quadrant of the board as where you found it on the rondel. You can turn the tile to any orientation you want when you place it. The reason why you may need to turn the tile is that a tile can only be placed on the board if the pattern of the columns (black circles and semicircles) matches the board.
If you choose a tile and wish to place it in one of the other three quadrants, you can do so as long as the action marker which matches the quadrant where you wish to place the tile is still face up. You flip over that action marker and then place the tile in that quadrant. Once the tile is placed, then you consider scoring for that tile – there are two ways a tile can score.
First, you consider the color of the tile. Once the tile is placed, you will score one point for every tile of the same color that is in a contiguous group as the tile just placed. So, you’ll score at least one point for placing a tile – because at a minimum, it’s in a group of 1 tile of that color! The contiguous group can cross quadrant boundaries, so be sure to count all connected tiles of the same color.
Second, you decide if a worker can be placed on the tile. Each tile has an arrow on it. After you have placed the tile, if that arrow on the tile is pointed towards your side of the board, you can put a worker on that tile. There is a limit of one worker on each color in EACH quadrant. Therefore, if you already have a worker placed on that color in that quadrant, you move the worker to the newly placed tile from that older tile – not from the supply. If you placed or moved a worker, then you score points based on the number of your workers in a contiguous group. This group can also span quadrant boundaries. If you do not place a worker on the tile, you only score for the color.
After you resolve the first tile, you have the option of placing a second tile. There is a cost associated with this – you must give 2VP back in order to place a second tile. The rondel is not refreshed, so you can only choose from the three tiles that remain on the display for your second move. All of the other costs and scoring for the second tile are the same as with the initial placement for the turn.
2) Refresh action markers – you can spend your entire turn to flip all your action markers back to their face up side. That’s all you get to do.
At the end of each player’s turn, you should check to see if any of the four quadrants is completely filled in with tiles. If so, you have an interim scoring round for that quadrant. The score here is based on the number of workers you have in that particular quadrant.
- Workers Points
- 1 4
- 2 6
- 3 9
- 4 13
- 5 18
- 6 24
Once the scores are added to the score track, each player gets his workers back (and can then use them again to place on other parts of the board). The game ends when the entire board is filled in. There are no other end-game bonus scores.
My thoughts on the game
This is a nice tile-laying game which has been a big hit in my house. The game moves fairly quickly, though there are a few points in each game where you may have to take a minute to decide what your best move is. All of my games have finished around 30 minutes, which is just the right amount for a game of this moderate/light complexity.
As I have come to expect with Queen Games, the component quality is first rate, and I’m thankful for the little touches such as the pre-assembled rondel that comes in the box. The colors are vibrant, and while some of the blues and purples can look similar to each other in poor lighting, the underlying textures beneath the colors help distinguish them from each other. The one niggly thing I’ll mention about the components is that I wish the score track were continuous. There is a break in the track as it rounds each corner, and if you are not watching closely, you might miss a spot or add a spot onto the track accidentally.
The turns are generally quick affairs. You can often see a good move in advance of your turn as you can see how the rondel be oriented on your turn. As long as the other players don’t take your tile, your decision might already be clear. But, even if you are looking at the rondel for the first time, the decision is fairly streamlined because of the tile orientation issues. Tiles are only in 3 forms – one column in the middle, one column on the side or two columns on the side. As all of the tiles are already oriented the same way on the rondel, you know that you get to place a worker on the tile as long as you don’t have to rotate it from its orientation on the rondel.
The game is easy to teach and pick up – both of my boys were into the flow of the game after about 5 minutes. The placement of workers (especially the limitation to only one worker per color per quadrant) took a little bit longer to grok, but not longer than a full game. As with any tile game, there is definitely an element of luck in the game – if the tiles come up at the right time for you, you’ll do a lot better than if not… but that’s true of any tile game.
Thoughts from other Opinionated Gamers
Mary Prasad: I played twice, once with 4 players and once with 2. I much prefer the 2 player game. The 4 player game was far too chaotic. There is a lot of luck in the tile draw – with 2 players it was easier to get some control. It’s a decent tile laying game – maybe a good filler. The game production is top notch. With the tiles on the board, it’s a beautiful game to look at. I’m on the fence where to rate it – there are just too many other games I’d rather play.
Ratings from the Opinionated Gamers
I love it!
I like it. Dale Yu
Neutral. Lorna (see my review from last year https://opinionatedgamers.com/2012/07/10/first-impression-maharani/), Mary Prasad
Not for me…