Review – Jump Gate from Matt Worden Games
Designer – Matt Worden
Artwork by -Josh Cappel, Ariel Seoane, Gary Simpson, Scott Slomiany,Matt Worden
Many thanks to Matt Worden for providing a review copy of this game.
Not too long ago, I heard that the US based Games 100 named their Game of the Year as an unknown little game called Jump Gate, published by Matt Warden. Jump Gate? Huh? Never heard of it… Talk about coming out of nowhere. Especially with so many games coming out last year, this came as a real surprise amongst the gaming community. Now the Games 100 isn’t the most noted of awards, especially compared to the behemoth that is the Spiel des Jahres but in any case I do like a cinderella story so I decided that it would be worth checking Jump Gate out.
Jump Gate is a card-driven game for 2-6 players, aged 12+ about space exploration with main mechanics of hand management and set collection. The main theme sees the players traveling to a number of different planets, claiming them and collecting resources to score points for various sets of resource cards. There is a level of player interaction where you can use certain cards to impact other players so although there is a luck in your card draw, how and when you use cards can have an effect on your strategy.
The game comes with a Jump Gate Card and a Black Hole card which are placed on the center of the table. 12 Planet cards are then placed around these 2 main cards and this represents your play area. There are 48 Resource cards which are how you gather victory points and 48 NavComp cards which are used for various actions. There are also colored discs and rockets which the players use to track planet claims and scans as well as movement.
The artwork is evocative and provides a good setting and theme. The components are very nice, especially considering that this game was self-published. My only slight gripe would be that the cards are not quite up to the standard of cardstock and flexibility for shuffling as in other games but this is a minor quibble.
During the player turn, the player takes 2 actions. The actions that can be taken include:
Research – the players can draw NavComp cards up to a maximum of five in their hand
Fly – Spaceships can be moved to neighboring planets
Jump – You can discard a NavComp card that has a Jump Code that matches any other planet thereby allowing you to jump to that planet. when you do this, you place a colored disc on the Jump Gate card. The player with the most discs on the Jump Gate card at the end of the game gets a bonus of 5 points.
Scan – The player discards a NavComp card with a Scan code for the planet your spaceship is currently located at in order to flip 1 face-down Resource card which is located face-up. This of course, helps you to decide whether it is worth collecting the resource. You also add a disc to the planet card to indicate that you have scanned it.
Land and Claim – If you are the first player to land, you can claim a planet. This is particularly important as after you discard 2 NavComp cards with matching codes for the planet, you can flip remaining resource cards, choose to collect 1 resource card. In addition, anyone else who has scanned the same planet can then choose a resource card.
Harvest – You can collect 1 resource card at the planet you are currently at. If it has a Black Hole icon you will add a disc to the Black Hole card.
Special Action -There are a number of cards that allow you to take special actions. Although random, these actions add spice to the game and keep you on your toes as to when to use them.
The game ends when either –
The Black Hole card has 9+ discs on that the end of a player’s turn
All planets have been claimed and the only resource cards remaining to be collected have Black Hole icons on them.
Victory points are earned through sets of resource cards, planets claimed and scanned, having the most discs on the Jump Gate board.
A level of randomness is there due to card drawing but this is balanced with having to choose where to claim, scan and which sets to go for. The mechanics work smoothly and simply. 2 actions per turn makes for a light-ish game with some thinking behind it. Player interaction is good
Did it work for me?
Jump Gate is a nice, simple game and works on that level. This doesn’t mean it is mindless though. The 2 actions per turn is very attractive to those who are looking for a fun interactive and social game and want a choice away from heavier games. Highly recommended for families! The decision making is limited to where you think your card plays will gain you the biggest return. I am curious as to how this game was chosen as the top of the Games 100 list as there were clearly better games produced but in any case it is really great that Matt Worden produced it as it is definitely one of the better family games currently around.
Boardgames in Blighty rating – 7.5 out of 10
I would highly recommend this game for families. I would say that this should be playable for ages 10+.
For more information about Matt Worden Games go to – http://www.mwgames.com/