Thursday, 16 June 2011

Jambo - Kosmos

Whilst I have been recovering from a tooth extraction Wendy and I have been playing a few games at home, this week. Last night we played Thurn and Taxis, designed by Andreas and Karen Seyfarth, published by Hans im Gluck, it plays in about an hour for 2-4 players aged 10 and above. It is a game that works well 2 player and over the 3 years we have been playing, wins have evened out, however last nights victory was mine. This is a game to be reviewed on another occasion.

Thurm and Taxis
We have also played Kingsburg this week which although Wendy says I am better at, it is always a close run thing. I still think lucky die rolling is half the battle and I certainly did well on that the other night. I am still not sure that this game flows nicely playing 2 player; do not get me wrong it does work, but I think it lacks a little something. One small thing I have noticed, especially 2 player, the winter battle can have a significant affect on your position, to the point of unbalancing the game. However I am sure it is in for quite a few more plays and a verdict will follow with the review.

The game that has been played three times this week is Jambo. This  2 player card game is designed by Rudiger Dorn and produced by Kosmos, I have a  Rio Grande edition which is essential for English speakers as there is a lot of text on the cards and it is aimed at players aged 12 and above.
So what is in the box? 112 cards, 52 Gold Pieces, 36 Ware markers and 5 action tokens, and the rules all neatly packaged in Kosmos’s standard 2 player game box. The rules are clearly written, though I did not understand the use of Utilities – perhaps because all that went through my brain when reading the word was the water and electric board! As mentioned this game is text intensive so ensure you get a language version you are happy with. The aim of the game is to have the most gold at the end of the game which is triggered when a player gets 60 gold or more, the other player then has one more turn. The only elements which are hidden are your cards which you get dealt 5 at the game start. The theme is that you are a stall holder, your stall can carry up to 6 goods (or wares) and it is buying and selling of these wares that gains you your profit.

Players start stalls, Gold, Wares and Cards.
The cards are the driving force behind the game and there are 5 different types. First the goods cards, these will show 3 wares on them and a buying and selling price, if you buy the set of goods you must pay the smaller amount and take the 3 items, and if you have those items on your stall you can sell them as a set for the selling price. You cannot buy goods if you do not have the room on your stall. There are Utility cards, these you play in front of you, once down in front of you, you may action them once a turn for a special ability. You are limited to 3 utilities at any one time. There are people and animal cards which are essentially one off actions, the animal cards being an attack card which can be negated by use of a Guard card. The last type of card is a stall extension which allows for a further 3 wares to be held.

Ware, Person and Utility card
On your turn you have 5 actions, the action markers are there to help you remember, though most of the time they are not needed. For your first action you may take a card from the face down deck, if you do not take a card for your first action, you may not take a card later as one of your remaining actions. If you do not want the card, you can discard it and take another card, but this costs an action too, you may repeat this until all 5 actions have gone. You may also play cards, each card you play costs an action, you may also use a utility, this costs an action. You may also forfeit your last 2 actions to gain 1 gold. An example of a turn could be :- 1) Pick up a card, 2) Play a new utility card in front of you, 3) Use the utility card, 4) & 5) Take a gold. Another example :- 1) Play a ware card buying 3 goods paying 3 gold, 2) Play a second ware card taking another 3 goods paying 3 gold, 4) Play a 3rd ware card selling 3 goods for 11 gold, 5) Play an animal action card.

Players stall with 3 wares on it
So how does it play? Very nicely thank you (we have played it 3 nights in a row), there is a lot of thinking to be done and the interaction of the cards seems well thought out. There are cards which appear stronger than the others, but they do seem to even out. The really important thing is to try to get a turnover of cards, just taking the standard 1 card a turn will not win you the game, there are various utilities and action cards which will increase your card turnover and the importance of a Guard card to protect you position cannot be over emphasised. So if I am aware of all this why is Wendy beating me at a ratio of 2 :1 over a 4 year period?

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