Review – Jump Drive

Are you in need of a really cool, super-fast game that can be played almost between ordering your food and it actually arriving?

Have I got the game for you!

Jump Drive is like a combination of designer Tom Lehmann’s Race for the Galaxy and his The City.

How do you get a combination like that?

Well, when two games really like each other…

Whoops, sorry. Childhood flashbacks.

What I meant to say is that Jump Drive is basically The City using some Race for the Galaxy iconography and a couple of the mechanics from that game as well.

It all gels into a fast-playing mix that really satisfies the senses.

Jump Drive was designed by Lehmann with artwork by Martin Hoffmann, Claus Stephan, Mirko Suzuki and Jens Wiese. It was published by Rio Grande Games in 2017.

How does it play?

Let’s take a look.

If you’ve read my review of The City, then you’ll know the basics of how Jump Drive plays, but with a few notable differences.

Each person starts with a 5-card hand, taken from the 7 cards that they are dealt.

The Survey Team is a 1-time-only Development you can do if your hand really sucks. It gives you a bit of everything!

On your turn, you choose one World (the card with a round circle) and/or one Development (the card with a diamond) that you are going to play on your turn.

Once each player has chosen their card(s), they’re flipped over and you have to pay for them.

The cost is in the top left and you have to discard a number of cards from your hand equal to the card’s cost.

So the cards pictured above would require you to discard 5 cards to pay for them.

However, there are a couple of caveats.

First, if you only play a Development, then the cost of that Development is one less card.

If you only play a World, then you get to draw a card, but not before you pay for the World. No using the terrible card you drew to help pay for the cost of the World.

Here’s one place where Jump Drive differs from The City, though.

Military Worlds (with the cost in red) don’t cost anything!

You just have to have enough Military strength in your tableau to pay for it.

New Survivalists above requires you to have one Military strength in your tableau to play it, but it gives you two more strength for future Military Worlds!

Once the cards are played, you collect income from the bottom row of each card in your tableau. You get VP for the number at the top of the row and draw cards equal to the number at the bottom of the row.

If you have nothing to play, you can either get a Survey Team (if you don’t already have one) or you can explore to draw some more cards.

Exploring will let you draw two cards plus cards equal to the number of “eyes” in your tableau plus the three eyes on the chit. You then have to discard cards equal to the number of “eyes.”

Essentially, you are drawing two cards but you get to choose from a great variety if you have enough eyes for it.

You should be able to get something good with that.

Danged sun!!!

This happens every turn until somebody hits 50 VP. That means it’s the last round and whoever has the most points is the winner!

Is Jump Drive a beautiful oasis planet that tourists keep flocking to? Or is it an irradiated wasteland world that only some nerdy scientist would want to visit?

A friend of mine was so entranced with The City but disappointed that it couldn’t really be found anywhere. In his searches, he discovered that Jump Drive exists and that it basically reimplements The City.

And does it better.

Man does it do it better.

In fact, in my The City review, I said that it “will probably be the filler game of choice at our Sunday game day for the foreseeable future.”

Well, that was wrong.

But only because we found Jump Drive!

The game is just as quick but has a couple of different nuances that just adds to the flavour.

First (and least important), the survey/explore action nets you two cards instead of one and is based on what’s in your tableau rather than just a straight “draw 5, discard 4” action.

More importantly, though, are the Military Worlds and how they are added to your tableau.

Just like Race for the Galaxy, you just have to have the strength to conquer the world.

You don’t have to use cards from your hand.

I like that addition as it can help you get those high-cost Developments out as well as a high-scoring World (as long as you’ve spent time building up your Military).

The City had one seemingly over-powered card, the Luxury Homes. If you managed to get a couple of those together, you probably won (at least in our plays) as they were worth 3 points per Luxury Homes card you had.

Jump Drive does have the Galactic Trendsetters, but these cards are only worth 2 points per GT card that you have in your tableau (they do give you an eye as compensation). The Luxury Homes gave you 3.

It does add up!

I find myself discarding GT a lot unless I have something that wants eyes or I have some kind of World discount.

Jump Drive is definitely a quick game and it’s a card game so there is a ton of luck involved. It only lasts 6-7 rounds, so if you don’t get a point-building card out there relatively quickly, you may find yourself way behind.

I love the chaining in this game as well. If you happen to find some cards that just go well together, and you also manage to get some early card-draw income out (sometimes you may find yourself drawing 15 cards and you can only keep 10 and that’s only if your hand was empty to begin with), you can get some killer combinations.

With the obligatory Tap & Barrel ad (not serious, that just happens to be where we were playing)

This tableau got me lots of points, but it would have earned me even more if I had planned better.

When you get cards that give you points and/or cards for each instance of something in your tableau, and you’ve played a lot of those, everything can skyrocket pretty quickly.

Since it is such a luck-based game, it’s good that it only takes 10-15 minutes to play. We have played multiple times in a day just while we’re waiting for people to arrive or for our food to arrive.

It’s perfect for that, it’s easy to set up (the most complicated thing is shuffling the large amount of cards in it) and it’s just fun.

The artwork, for the most part, is straight out of Race for the Galaxy, but there’s nothing wrong with that. It’s very good (though the Galactic Trendsetters are a bit weird-looking, but maybe that’s the intent!)

Jump Drive actually is our go-to filler game at the beginning or end of our Sunday game day.

It will remain that way for a long time.

Any faults the game has just fade away when you realize that you can just play another game of it immediately. It has a runaway leader problem. It has a luck issue when you get cards that don’t go together at all.

But it’s 10 minutes.

And next time, you’ll be the one getting that killer combo.

You should definitely give Jump Drive a try, especially if you enjoyed The City.

It’s a much better game.

(Review written after 20 plays)

7 Comments on “Review – Jump Drive

  1. Interesting, it does indeed look a lot like Race For The Galaxy. Not that this is a bad thing at all. Would you recommend it to be in a collection alongside that game, or are they too similar?

    Liked by 1 person

    • It’s not really a lot alike. There’s no action selection or anything like that. I think they scratch different itches, personally.


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