Game Buzz: Jump Drive

Ten years ago, in 2007, a game called Race for the Galaxy was released.  It took the basic mechanism of Puerto Rico (role selection where everyone gets to do a particular action, but the person who chose it gets a benefit) and turned it into what remains a very popular game.  Now a new game is coming out in the same universe called

image by BGG user W Eric Martin
image by BGG user W Eric Martin

Jump Drive is a game by RFTG designer Thomas Lehmann and published by Rio Grande Games.  It’s a 2-4 player game that takes 10-30 minutes to play.  Players are racing to build the best space empire and most prosperous space civilization through the  discovery of new worlds and technologies.

Jump Drive comes with four survey team cards, 112 game cards, 4 reference cards, 8 explore markers, and 84 VP chips.  One survey team card per player is laid out, and each player gets a starting hand of five cards.  For your first game, players should take a preset hand, and for later games, draft your hand from seven that are dealt to you.

Each round, players will choose 1-2 cards from their hand and lay it face down.  Then, you reveal and pay for your card using cards from your hand.  If you played one development, you pay one less for it.  If you played one world, you draw a card after paying (military worlds require you to have existing military strength to conquer them rather than paying out of your hand).  If you played one of each, you pay the full cost and get no extra card benefit.  You cannot play two of the same type of card.  Instead of playing cards, you could choose to play an explore marker.  This will allow you to draw extra cards at the end of the round.

After playing your card, you collect VPs for every card currently in your empire, as well as income (draw cards).  You do have a hand limit of ten, so discard if necessary.  If, at the end of the round, no one has 50+ points, start a new round.  However, if someone has 50+ points, the game is over and the high score wins.

This has been advertised as a much simpler version of RFTG, and it certainly is that.  It takes away my favorite part of RFTG, which is the role selection, and just makes the game about trying to play the best cards you can to score as much as you can.  A typical game will take about 6-7 rounds, and that seems pretty quick.  I also can’t tell if there is any interaction here at all.  Other than keeping an eye on the others to make sure you are scoring what you need to, it just seems to be a race where everyone is on their own track.  There’s not a lot of interaction in RFTG, but at least the role selection keeps people on their toes.  So I don’t know how I feel about this yet.  It’s getting some good reviews, and probably is pretty fun.  But, if I’m not playing solo, I would like to have some interaction with others at the table.

That’s it for today.  Thanks for reading!

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2 comments

  1. I played the predecessor to this game, called The City, just the other day. I really liked it. I can see that for those who dig RftG, this could come across as lacking. something But as someone who has never grokked RftG–but I’m still trying–I really enjoyed this version of it. And I an absolutely see why Rio Grande put it into that universe. The mechanics definitely feel like Race-light. Good article.

    • Thanks for your perspective! I remember hearing about The City when it came out, but never thought much about it because it was never in an English edition. But here it is. I’ll be interested to know how the two compare.

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