Friday, July 14, 2023

Jump Drive’s campaigns won me over

While I hadn’t actually done a lot of consideration about what the first game I learned in Florida would be, it ended up being Jump Drive via Board Game Arena. (Yes, I’ve been spending a lot of time there with so much stuff boxed up.)

I am of three minds when it comes to Jump Drive. On the one hand, I am predisposed to liking it because it reminds me of Race for the Galaxy. On the other hand, it is also a pale shadow of Race for the Galaxy. On the third hand, the solitaire campaigns proved to be a game changer for me.

(I haven’t played Roll for the Galaxy. I do expect I would love it but the opportunity just hasn’t come up)

Just about every element of Race for the Galaxy has been simplified. There is no role/action selection. Everyone just decided to either add to their tableau or draw more cards. The consume and produce phase automatically happen every time. Race for the Galaxy didn’t have tons of interaction but Jump Drive removes almost all of it.

And when I played through my first couple games, I thought it was cute and forgettable.

And I’m a proponent of ‘smaller’ versions of games, admittedly due to storage issues. I have King of the Elves and Euphrates and Tigris: Contest of Kings still in my collection rather than Elfenland and Tigris and Euphrates because they take up a fraction of the space in the closet. (Hilariously, Euphrates and Tigris takes up more table space than its parent game) 

But a physics copy of Jump Drive wouldn’t save space and if I need a lighter version of Race for the Galaxy, San Juan does the job much better. 

Then I found the solitaire campaigns.

As I understand it, they started out as a fan expansion but were so well received they were added to the expansion. There are five campaigns which have four end goals each. A campaign consists of four games (seven turns each) The goals are things like end a goal with sixty points or end a game with fifty points and a mix of four blue and brown worlds. If you can’t check a goal off, you lose the campaign.

The campaigns took my biggest issue with Jump Drive, the lack of interaction, and made it superfluous. And while I don’t mind ‘beat your own score’ solitaire games, I really like actual winning conditions. The solitaire campaigns took Jump Ship from a forgettable game for me to a game that I really enjoying and one I keep playing.

If I want a game that I’m going to play with someone else, online or in person, I’m going to find another game. But for a solitaire challenge, Jump Ship surprised me.

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