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Subject: Varient for a three or four player game of Jambo rss

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Damon Hoffman
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My friends and I love this game, but we're always fighting over which two of us gets to play the next game, so I came up with a new varient that everyone seems to enjoy.

First I bought two Jambo games, and two expansions. Although the expansions aren't necessary they do add some ways to change up the game. I then bought two sets of colored card sleeves. In my case I put one game set in dark purple sleeves, and the other set was put into slightly lighter purple sleeves so that I can easily tell them apart for separation after the games are done.

I assign two players to each deck, and they are given a few minutes to change out a few cards for the extra cards in the expansions if they want to, or they can play as is. Both decks are joined together and shuffled. In a three player game, there are nine of each product set out for supply, and in a four player game we will have twelve of each product. We generally decide, before the game begins, on how many gold pieces we are racing to. In three player games we like to play to 60, but in four player games we like things a little more epic, so we play to 70 gold.

Now, there are some cards that can interact with one opponent or all opponents, such as Balance, Elephant, or Cheetah. I am in agreement with Ender Wiggins (EndersGames) assessment and ruling on the proper use of these cards in question.
Quote:
Applying special card effects: Part 1

In a 3 player game, I would be inclined to make cards apply to one or both opponents as follows:

PEOPLE CARDS
Tribal Elder: Both opponents must discard down to three cards
Travelling Merchant: You auction the 2 wares with both opponents.
Arabian Merchant: You auction the 3 cards with *one* opponent (of your choice).
Carrier: Both opponents get to take 2 wares or draw 2 cards (whichever you don't do)
NOTE: All of the above cards could be played and applied only to one opponent of the player's choice, but it seems to be fair to have them apply to both opponents. Unless you want the game to have more room for being nasty to just one of your two opponents.

UTILITY CARDS
Throne: Swap 1 ware with *one* opponent (of your choice)
Scale: Draw 2 cards, give one to *one* opponent (of your choice)
NOTE: both of these cards can only be applied to only one opponent, unless you allowed the swapping of one ware with both players (Throne), and the drawing of 3 cards (Scale), which makes both cards too strong.

ANIMAL CARDS
Crocodile: Discard and use utility card from *one* opponent (of your choice)
Parrot: Steal 1 ware from *one* opponent (of your choice)
Hyena: Look at cards of *one* opponent (of your choice) and exchange 1 card.
Cheetah: Both opponents each must choose whether to give you one gold or allow you to pick up a card from the supply (i.e. so you could receive either two golds, two cards, or a gold and a card). Or should this card apply just to one opponent of choice?

Snake: You and both opponents discard all but one utility card.
Elephant: You and both opponents share out all wares
Ape: You and both opponents share out all cards in hand
Lion: You and both share out all utility cards

NOTE: The Snake, Elephant, Ape, and Lion card could be played and applied only to one opponent of the player's choice, but it seems to be fair to have them apply to both opponents.

I find it hard to determine a consistent rule about whether or not to apply certain cards to both opponents, or just to one opponent.

Applying special card effects: Part 2

Now that I think about it more, you could apply all of the above cards to just *one* opponent. This presents only two difficulties:
1. The Snake card: you are also hurting yourself by being forced to discard all but one utility card, whereas your other opponent is allowed to keep his!
2. Some cards are probably more fun if applied to both opponents eg the auctions (merchant cards), and sharing out cards (elephant, ape, lion).
I'm really not sure whether it's best to apply these cards to just one opponent or both.

You could make a rule that all cards apply to just one opponent of choice, except the merchant cards (auctions) and the snake card (discarding all but one utility card). This allows you to help or harm specific opponents who are losing/winning, and perhaps creates a more interesting interaction in the game.

I guess part of the difficulty is that certain cards would work being applied *either* to one opponent, *or* to both opponents. These are:
EITHER WAY CARDS: Cards that can be applied to either ONE opponent or to BOTH: Tribal Elder, Travelling Merchant, Arabian Merchant, Carrier, Cheetah, Elephant, Ape, Lion

For some cards there is no choice:
SINGLE WAY CARDS: Cards that only can be applied to ONE opponent: Throne, Scale, Crocodile, Parrot, Hyena
BOTH WAY CARDS: Cards that only can be applied to BOTH opponents: Snake

Your choice for doing the "Either Way Cards" could depend on the style of the game you want:
1. "Level Playing-field" 3-Player Version: Apply the "Either Way Cards" to both opponents throughout the game.
2. "Pick on Each Other" 3-Player Version: Apply the "Either Way Cards" to just one opponent (of your choice) throughout the game.

Applying special card effects: Part 3

After much further thought about how to apply the cards in a three player version of Jambo, my conclusion is that the "Either Way" cards listed above should be applied to only ONE opponent, and not to BOTH opponents. Here are my reasons:

1. Applying cards like Elephant, Ape, and Lion to both players will weaken these cards. If one opponent has a lot of utilities/wares/cards-in-hand, but the other opponent has few, these cards are not as effective.

2. Applying "pest" cards like Elephant, Ape, Lion, and Cheetah to both opponents, creates problems in how many guards are required to stop these cards. If one guard is required, the opponent not playing the guard is at an advantage; if two guards are required, the guards will be used up twice as quickly and not be as common. This is problematic: it's easier to limit "pest" cards like these to just one player.

3. If auction cards like the Travelling Merchant and Arabian Merchant are applied to both opponents, there is more chance the outcome will be to the advantage of one of the opponents, and less chance it will be useful to the player placing the card. The result is that these cards will rarely be played, and not useful.

4. Applying cards to just one opponent allows players to single out their attacks on the player who seems to be winning, and so could lead to a more balanced game.

For the above reasons, I think a three player game with Jambo would work best if all cards are applied only to the opponent of the player's choice (Tribal Elder, Travelling Merchant, Arabian Merchant, Carrier, Cheetah, Elephant, Ape, Lion, Crocodile, Parrot, Hyena, Throne, Scale). The exception would be the Snake, which is applied to both opponents, and its effect is nullified if either player (in a clockwise direction) places a guard in response.

Now you and your gamers group may want to change up some of these ideas as you see fit, but always try to seek balance and try not to let any card combo be too powerful. Good luck and I wish you all many fun hours of group play with this great game!
 
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