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Subject: How Much Are Those Tea Leaves in the Window?, A Jambo Session rss

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There I was. Prowling through my FLGS like the spoiled child that I am in the toy store that it is. Now, I should tell you, my FLGS doesn’t sell used games. It only sells new ones. Sometimes they’re games that have gone out of print, but they are new. Until the day in question. My eager eyes were scanning the spines when they caught on it – the title Jambo. I knew this game was out of print and hard to come by. I never expected to play a copy, much less have one offered to me for sale. I reached for it, I flipped it over, I read the tag. “USED,” it said, “19.99.” SOLD to the little redhead in the Girl Genius t-shirt!

So we have played three times now, and are pretty comfortable with the mechanics and a lot of the more common utility, people, and animal cards. We each have our favorite utilities and our favorite people. We are less aggressive than we probably should be with the animals, because we’re still getting the feel of the game, but we’ll get there. We are each developing our personal signature strategies. This third game, I think, is a good representation of how our early development with the game is going, since we’re not checking the rulebook anymore.

I had developed a theory that it was critical to get those small market stands early in the game to be able to win, because that seemed to be how the first two games were won. Based on the third game, that seems not to be true. I didn’t get a small market stand for a long time, so I developed a strategic rule of not buying anything until I had everything I needed to be able to sell again. This is still really hard when you have neither small market stands nor utilities that allow you to gain one ware at a time, because you need ware cards with just the right combinations to make up what you’ll need to sell. It turns out it can be done, though, and fortunately, I did eventually get my additional market space. It would be interesting to try playing the whole game without one. Interesting and stressful.

My favorite utility is the Leopard Statue, which allows you to pay 2 gold to the bank and take 1 ware of your choice. I often do this thrice over three turns, and then sell, rather than buying from a ware card. It’s more expensive, but you don’t have to worry about whether or not you will get the card you need to sell your wares once you’ve bought them. Of course, it’s also good if you have bought a bunch of salt, and the card you’re selling on also requires just one bolt of silk. It’s a useful card. If you also get the Basket Maker, a one-time people card who allows you to pay 2 to the bank and take up to 2 of the same kind of ware, you’re really in good shape.

In this session, I also used Supplies, which lets you draw until you get a ware card, using only one action point. This turned out to be bittersweet, because twice while I was using this card, I drew small market stands, which I just had to discard, because they weren’t ware cards. Both times, this was during my small market quest, when I was limping through the game with only my regular market stand, and having to discard those small ones was painful. For my third utility in this session, I tried the Kettle card, which allows you to discard 1-2 cards in your hand in exchange for new ones. I found this to be of limited usefulness. It seems like it would be more useful on a person card, than on a utility you have to keep.

Lane’s mistake was that once he had extra space, he started buying, even though he didn’t have a set card he was planning to sell on yet. Then he had a hard time getting a card that matched the wares he had for sale, so he had a lot of merchandise he couldn’t move for a while, and in the meantime, I was making sales. In the end, I found myself with two small market stands, and way more space than I needed, so it was mostly empty. I had gotten into a healthy position even before I got them, though, and getting them only made the way easier. I just don’t know if I could have actually won without them.

Coming soon: My report on last night's first time out for Asante, and shortly after that, Jambo-Asante Combo Madness!
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