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The theme of Jetsetters (Robot Martini, 2006 – Stephen Glenn) is the visiting of players to cities around the world. As they travel, players see marvelous sights and ride on unique types of transportation.
Okay, the theme in this game isn’t even existent – it’s a card game that uses city names and transportation symbols. Other than that, I have no idea how the theme is married to the mechanics. On top of that, I’m not even sure I understand how to do well at this game, since I’ve lost every time. But it intrigues me and takes about ten or fifteen minutes to play. I don’t think JetSetters is going to set anyone’s world on fire, but I do think it’s an exceedingly clever card game – probably worth the inexpensive costs.
JetSetters is simply a deck of sixty cards, each with the following characteristics:
- A turn number, from “1” to “60”
- A transport symbol: car, bus, train, ship, or plane.
- A city: London, Paris, New York, Los Angeles, Rome, Moscow
- A transport number: from “1” to “16”.
The cards are shuffled, and the game begins, taking place over many short rounds. In each round cards equal to the number of players plus one are turned over. In turn order players take one card and place it face up in a pile in front of them. The card not taken is placed on the side of the table in the “travel agency area”, with cards sorted by city. On succeeding turns turn order is determined by the player who has the highest turn order number on the face up card at the top of their deck. Card picking continues until the game ends, at which point scores are totaled.
Each player takes the cards that they have picked and total their point value. Cards are each worth the number of the matching city cards in the travel agency. For example, if I have two Rome cards, and there are four Rome cards in the travel agency, I get eight points. After players have finished this, they sort their cards by transportation type. The player with the most cards of each of the five transportation types gets a bonus. This bonus is equal to the highest transport number they have of that type. These bonuses are added to the other scores, and the player with the most points is the winner!
Some comments on the game…
1.) Components: It’s cheap, really. Robot Martini seems to be following in the footsteps of Cheapass Games with low quality components that yield a low price point. The cards themselves are okay cardstock with no printed backs, and the fronts are merely graphical depictions of the five transport types and some numbers. Sure, I can’t expect much more for the price of the game ($5), but I wouldn’t mind a dash of color, or something! It is highly portable in a small plastic bag and easy to set up and play – just shuffle!
2.) Rules: The rules are on two sides of a long sheet of paper, but they’re really quite short and deal mostly with scoring and giving examples. The game is very easy to teach to people, the idea is quickly grasped, and even teenagers will easily learn the game (although in my experience it bored them.)
3.) Math: I like the deck composition. There are sixty cards, numbered “1” through “60”. The five types of transportation are arranged in order, and then appear every five cards throughout the deck. The first five and last five cards are London, then the next are Paris, etc. As the turn order numbers go up, the transport numbers go down. Because of the numbering, there really is no advantage to any city or transportation type, which is really a nice mathematical feat.
4.) Strategy: This is where the game breaks down for me personally. I really don’t know what card to take each time! If I take city cards that I think are valuable, I’m actually taking them out of the mix for points (this is similar to a Playroom Entertainment Game: King of the Beasts). If I grab cards that have a high transport number, then I pick last next round. Should I always grab ship cards, to make sure I have the majority of them? How many majorities should I try for? A player only has three to six cards to choose from, depending on the number of players; yet it sometimes can feel agonizing, even if it’s only a few seconds.
5.) Memory: I thought I would mention that some memory is involved, especially when you are the last player picking. You are the one who is responsible for the card that is sent to the travel agency, and you don’t want to send a Rome card there if Sam has four Rome cards in his pile. Memory isn’t a critical skill in JetSetters, but it can be important.
6.) Fun Factor: JetSetters is odd, not necessarily intuitive (the strategy, that is) – yet it is entertaining only because it plays so quickly. I’m not sure if there is any real strategy to the game, because of the random drawing of the cards and reactions to what your opponents pick, but it makes one feel as if they in a strategic game. I’ve seen some classify JetSetters as a “filler”, and that may be true because of the short time, but it’s not necessarily a “light” game.
JetSetters isn’t anything too innovative; I’ve seen hints of its design in King of the Beasts, For Sale, and other games, but it is a compact, inexpensive card game that offers some interesting developments. I’m not sure it will be remembered in ten years, but for $5 I think it offers entertainment for today and is something that can be carried around in a shirt pocket. While not on the level of his Spiel nominated Balloon Cup, JetSetters is a Stephen Glenn game that will certainly raise a buzz for a short while in a game group.
“Real men play board games”
JetSetters isn’t anything too innovative; I’ve seen hints of its design in King of the Beasts, For Sale, and other games, but it is a compact, inexpensive card game that offers some interesting developments.
As I read the rules description, the one game that came to mind was King's Breakfast, especially with players taking a card (course) with the unchosen cards going to the travel agency (king's serving). Even the scoring of cards in hand times card at travel agency (king) is very similar.
Sure there are a few differences, but not enough to compel me to get this game though I had been looking at it. Thanks for the review.
Edit: Stephen Glenn agrees with me To be more precise, he posted on the Spielfrieks list....
If anything, JetSetters resembles Alan Moon's King's Breakfast -- another design that I saw *after* JetSetters was done.
and added that Jetsetters was a finished design back in 2001 and a Hippodice runner-up in 2002.
I note that both of these dates pre-date King's Breakfast's which is listed as a 2003 game here.
- Last edited Tue Aug 7, 2007 4:26 am (Total Number of Edits: 1)
- Posted Tue Aug 7, 2007 2:25 am
Thanks for the review Tom! We love working with Stephen (which is why we're currently working with him and Mike Petty on two new games) and we love seeing his work get recognized.
As for matching up the theme more, the idea is that as a jet setter, your popularity demands that you show up at the right place in the right vehicle. Who knows what you're famous for to begin with, but your adoring fans want to swamp around your designer jet (or tour bus, or hot car... or train?!? We always laugh at the train guy), and they can only know to do that if you have some consistency.
Still a stretch perhaps, but it does lend humor to the game as you ponder why anybody important would be popular for constantly taking a train to Moscow...