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JamSumo is a game that came to my attention via the prolific blogger Tony Boydell and his Every Man Needs a Shed. I ordered a copy for my youngest son. Since then it has seen play with all player counts and all types of players from young kids to experienced hardcore gamers. I have over 30 recorded plays and many more unrecorded plays.
It is a handmade game by Gavin Birnbaum and published by his company Cubiko games
Picture by demurr
The game is really 2 dice flicking games in one that can be played separately or combined to test your skills. In Jam you are trying to get your dice off the board through the small central hole, In Sumo you are trying to keep your dice on the board while knocking off the other players.
In Jam your goal is to get your dice through the whole in the board before the other players. You set your dice in front of you on the number 4 showing on the top. In turn order you either flick one of your dice already on the board towards the hole or place one of your dice on the raised corners of the board and flick it. This continues till one player completes the task and each other player adds up the pips showing on top of their remaining dice and add that to their score. (Dice that are not on the board yet score 4). It is recommended that each player starts a round and then scores are totaled. Lowest wins
In Sumo you line your dice up against one of the raised corners of the board with 3 pips showing. In turn order you flick one of your dice at your opponents trying to knock them off the board while keeping yours on. Once one players dice are knocked off the board the other players then total the pips of their remaining dice and add them to their score. Each player starts a round and the highest total wins. An important rule is that a flicked die must touch another players die or it is a foul and is removed from the game. This stops the game from stagnating.
The full game consists of each player starting a round of each of the two games with your final JAM score subtracted from your final SUMO score for an overall winner.
The games themselves are simple, the fun comes in the play. The consequences of flicking large cubes with rounded corners are less then entirely predicable. The board quickly fills with dice of multiple players getting in each others way or offering tempting target clumps. In may ways it is like a tiny game of pool with square dice. I would put the fun factor up there with Loupin Louie and Pitchcar.
Easy to teach - from the summary above you have everything you need to know to play. You can be player this game straight from the bag the game explained while you are sorting the dice.
Size - the game is similar in size to many standard board games, it is readily transportable and requires little space to play.
Flexibility of play time - This game is extremely flexible as to how long you play for. You can have one quick round or go all the way through a 4 player JamSumo. Even that wont outstay it's welcome time.
Good at all play counts - I initially thought that this would work at 2 or 4 but it surprised me with working just as well with 3. In Jam the number count has no effect and in Sumo as long as the first player is not in the middle it works just as well as 2 or 4.
The 3 legged board - now this is probably a design feature but the board has only 3 legs making it somewhat unstable. In a positive way it forces you not to lean on the board but it can be unstable when moving the board about to line up your shot. Such mishaps have been considered just one of the hazards of the game at my table and laughed off.
Edit: As pointed out below pointed out below the 3 legged design is to allow the board sit flat on any surface
Flying dice - not really a negative as it is part of the fun but you do need to be careful that you play this in the right place. Exuberant shots can cause a multitude of dice cascading off your table and you need to find those dice again.
My final thoughts
As I said at the start, this game has been a complete winner in my collection. Initially as a family game it was fun and lighthearted. Then it got pulled out one night as we waited for a late arrival at game night. Everyone has enjoyed it and it has been called for on numerous occasions. I consider this a hidden gem as it only has 67 (at time of writing) owners here on BGG and no mass production likely. When I thought about it in advance of this review I upped my rating to a 10. You can't have my copy for love nor money. If you want one, email Gavin or Cubiko games and hopefully he will have one or make one for you.
- Last edited Wed Sep 28, 2016 1:57 pm (Total Number of Edits: 1)
- Posted Tue Sep 27, 2016 3:31 pm
Great that you're enjoying this, it's an ace game. Was surprised by the negative re the three legs, it actually makes the board more rather than less stable. Four legs means you need a perfect surface underneath.. three legs means that wherever you place the board it will sit properly, hurrah!!
3 legs will always be stable, 100% guaranteed. No JamSumo board will ever suffer from the dreaded 4 legged wobble.
I've enjoyed every play of this.
3 legs good, 4 legs bad!
Therefore my losing streak is obviously caused by an uneven underlying table surface and nothing to do with digital yips.
Best flicking fun? Next step is Crokinole, then Carrom, the best one out there (in my opinion, of course) if you have time and patience to learn it and play it with regularity.
I struggled to find any negatives with this game to be honest. A fair review needs to consider what others may consider downsides. I'm happy to acknowledge the purpose of the 3 legged approach and I'll be letting my playing companions know.
Some day I'll get a Cronkinole or Carrom board.