Review – The Jam from RightGames
Design and Art – Sergey Machin
A copy of this game was provided by RightGames
And yet, another little card game from Right Games came across my attention at Essen. This time its, The Jam, no, not the band (who I never really liked anyway…), but a game about making using fruit to make Jam, and pies etc. Is it yummy? or not to my taste?
From the publisher –
Ahh, jam, a favorite treat from childhood! A bright sunny day – scarlet strawberries, sweet-scented raspberries, tasty apples, still warm pink scum, the humming of bees… Or a winter evening – cold outside, warm inside, a burning lamp, tea is ready – all that’s left to choose is cherry or peach? Gooseberry or currant? Why not open a few jars and taste some of each. Of and it would be lovely to bake some pies with jam…
Now you can not only eat jam, you can play The Jam. In this game you need to make all sorts of jam and bake pies. At the start of the game each player has a hand of four cards and a task sheet; the sheet shows different combinations of jam and pies that you need to make to earn extra points at the end of the game. Players receive points by completing tasks, and also for each jam they make and each pie they bake. The one who has the most points at the end of the game wins.
Ultimately this is a set collection card game for 2-4 players ages 5+. I’m not so sure that a 5 year old will get this to be honest. More like age 8+ I think.
The art is quite nice and evocative. Lots of nice images of fruit, jam jars, pies, etc., all very colourful and its very easy to see what the cards represent. Most of the cards have 2 images and you have to choose whether you will use the card’s top or bottom image, not both. There is also a card value in the upper right corner.
There are also special cards The Bear, Karlsman, and the special Task cards.
The cards are of a good standard and the art is nicely appealing and clearly illustrated.
There is a deck of Playing Cards and Task Cards which consist of three different types in the game.
Each player starts with one Task Card of each type (3 in total). The Tasks are combinations of jams and pies which players will try to collect and for which they can gain extra points at the end of the game. So you score for making basic sets to create jam, etc. and you get bonus points for collecting Task sets.
– Jam for the winter – Players can collect any THREE out of four jams shown at his\her Task Card
– Pies for granny – Players can collect any TWO out of three pies from the basket shown at his\her Task Card
– The grand tea party – three parts of this task are shown on three different Task Cards – they are six jars of jam and two pies in total. Players gain extra points, depending on how much jam and pies they have by the end of the game.
The cards are pretty clear as to the sets that need to be collected.
Each Playing card in game is divided into two parts: the upper part and the lower part. The lower part holds the INGREDIENT – a berry or a fruit needed to make jam. The upper part is the RECIPE, its name and numbers of points received are given there.
There are three types of recipes:
– Jam. This recipe can be made by using fruits or berries shown in the recipe;
– Pie. This recipe can be made by using the jam shown in the recipe.
– Fruit salad. This recipe can be made from several ingredients.
During the game a card can be played either as a Recipe or an Ingredient, not both
Game play overview
In this game the player has to make various kinds of jam and bake tasty pies. Players receive points for making jam and baking pies, and also for completing certain tasks. The player with the most points at the end of the game is considered to be the winner.
The players take turns clockwise from the starting player. Each player’s turn consists of the following phases:
– Drawing a card
A player draws one card from the deck to his hand. If it’s “Karlsman” or “The Bear” card, it immediately is applied and the player who drew it draws another card from the deck.
A player may trade his completed Recipes from jams, pies, fruit salads which are made/collected, with other players. This adds an element of strategy as the completed recipes that you trade for can help you achieve the Tasks.
– Playing a card
A player must play a card from his hand. He can do this to:
Bake a pie
Make a fruit salad
Play an Ingredient
At the end of his turn a player must discard all cards that were played as Ingredients for Recipes into the Basket.
“Karlsman” card – If a player gets the Karlsman card during his draw phase, he must immediately declare it and place it in the middle of the table. Players take turns at placing bids starting with the player who drew the card then continue clockwise. The bid can be any amount of jam cards the player owns (the ones lying in front of the player). Once all players have placed their bets or passed, Karlsman is placed in front of the player who made the biggest bid. He will receive 7 points at the end of the game.
“The Bear” (and Masha) card – If a player gets The Bear card during his draw phase, he must immediately declare it and place it in the middle of the table. The Bear will go to anyone who has the most baked pies. If different players have an equal amount of pies, the privilege goes to the player who drew the card then moving clockwise. The Bear is then placed in front of the player who won the pie draw and that player will receive 10 points at the end of the game. But by attracting the Bear, the player must discard one of his baked pies and shuffle it into the deck.
This jam can be made by using any Ingredient. It can be used to bake any pie. And most important of all it can be used to replace any jam when completing a task. Sadly the cone in the lower half can only be used to make Cone jam and nothing more. This is your Wild Card element.
Once all cards are gone from the deck players must skip the first phase (drawing a card). The game continues till no player has cards on his hand. It’s time to count the points. Each Recipe in front of a player gives the amount of points shown on the Recipe card. These points are added to the points gained by completing tasks from the players task cards. The player who has the most points is the winner. In case of a draw, the winner is the one who gained most points in the yummy-yummy task.
The process works reasonably well but it takes a little while to really feel comfortable I think. I’m not convinced about the need for the Karlsman card, nor the Bear cards really. I think that I enjoy playing without them or a smoother experience.
Did I enjoy The Jam?
The game process works and is pretty easy enough to get into. It doesn’t take too long and the cards really look grand. I like the matching required to make jams, and the challenge of the Task cards. Its ok I guess but I think that the process, although it works, feels a wee bit slow.
I’m not totally convinced. The theme is a problem for me. Its not the most interesting of themes. In fact, I find it pretty dry. With so many similar games around, theme really matters. I can see that The Jam would appeal as a family game and that should be the target audience. I think it is missing a social engagement element as you are focused on collecting the sets required. Yes, the trading puts in interaction, but it doesn’t feel like you are trying to impact the other players as much as just get what you need for your tasks. Not a bad thing in itself but just not interesting for me. The Jam a reasonable game but doesn’t leave me hungry for more.
For more information, go to – http://www.russianboardgames.com/