[Note: Normally, I prefer to play a game at least three times prior to writing it for the blog. However, given the time pressure coming up to SPIEL ’14, I have written up my thoughts on a number of games based on only one or two plays in order to cover as many new games as possible prior to the show. I fully admit that it is often not possible to see the full breadth of a design in a single play, and thus I shall not give a rating to any game at this stage with such a few number of plays…]
- Designer: Nightsorrow Chou, Eros Lin, Zeldaaa Ling
- Publisher: ErosGames
- Players: 2-4
- Ages: 12+
- Time: ~30 min
- Times played: 2, with preview copy provided by Taiwan Boardgame Design
Well, I’m not sure what the fascination is with Taiwanese board game design and cats is, but Jungle Rumble is one of a number of games that is feline in nature. In this game, you employ your “Little Kitty Helpers” to help you become the next village chief in your modest jungle village.
The game is very reminiscent of Puerto Rico in that the game is played over a number of rounds, and in each round, the active player chooses an action role and takes that action. Then, in turn, the other players get a chance to perform a reduced version of that same action.
To set up the game, first a proscribed number of field tiles and irrigation blocks are placed in the supply. Players then start with two field tiles with an irrigation block between them to start the game. Each player chooses a set of adorably cute kitty tiles, keeping two in front of them and placing the rest in the supply. The kitty helpers are two-sided, one side “awake” and another is “asleep”. The kitties start in the awake state. There are five action roles – each depicted on a tile – these are placed in the center of the board so everyone can see them (more on this in a bit).
Each player turn follows the same 4 phase format
- Wake phase
- Action phase
- Follow phase
- Feeding phase
In the wake phase, a few things happen. First, you can freely awaken one of your sleeping kitties. Additionally, if you want to wake up additional kitties, you pay one food per extra kitty helper that you wake up. If ALL your kitties were already awake, take a 1 Food bonus instead. You can also take this opportunity to sell things (food or gold) to shopkeeper kitties (though you do NOT start the game with any). You may sell at most one item to each shopkeeper that you have.
In the action phase, the active player chooses any available action and may use it as many times as they want. Each activation of the role will cause one of your awake kitties to switch to the sleeping side. You can only use the role as many times as you have awake kitty helpers.
- Tiger Boss – The Active Player that chooses the Tiger Boss action card can dispatch 1/2/3/4/5/6 Workers to retrieve 2/5/8/12/16/20 units of food, respectively. A maximum of 6 helpers can be dispatched for this action at a time.
- Bull Brother – The Active Player that chooses the Bull Brother action card can dispatch 1/2/3/4/5/6 Workers to plow 1/2/3/4/5/6 Fields, respectively. A maximum of 6 Workers can be dispatched for this action at a time. When you get new field tiles, they must be placed adjacent to previously placed fields.
- Beaver Man – The Active Player that chooses the Beaver Man action card can dispatch 1/2/3/4/5/6 Workers to dig 1/2/3/4/5/6 Water Ways, respectively. A maximum of 6 Workers can be dispatched for this action at a time. It must be placed on any un-irrigated side of a field. Once placed, it cannot be moved.
- Raccoon Girl – The Active Player that chooses the Raccoon Girl action card can dispatch 1/2/3/4/5/6 Workers to acquire 1/2/3/4/5/6 gold, respectively. A maximum of 6 Workers can be dispatched for this action at a time.
- Monkey Boy – The Active Player that chooses the Monkey Boy action card can dispatch 1/2/3/4/5/6 Workers to pay 1/2/3/4/5/6 gold to acquire 1/2/3/4/5/6 Workers, respectively. A maximum of 6 Workers or Shop Keepers can be employed for this action at a time. When you get a new kitty helper, you must immediately decide if it is going to be a worker kitty or a shopkeeper kitty. Shopkeeper kitties have a white wood house placed on them to denote their shopkeeper status. Worker kitties come into play in the awake state.
In the follow phase, each other player in the game can decide if they want to take the same action – though they are limited to doing it only once, no matter how many awake kitties they have – and taking that action will cause their kitty to fall asleep. Alternatively, players can pass on the action and instead wake up one of their kitties that is sleeping. IF they pass AND all their kitties are awake, they get 1 Food from the supply instead. Once all players have chosen to follow or pass, the role card is flipped over so no one chooses it for the rest of the round.
Finally, in the feeding phase, the active player must pay 2 Food for each kitty helper or shopkeeper that he has. This cost is reduced by 1 for each irrigated field tile that the player has in his area. If you don’t have enough food to pay the cost, you can “fire” (or is it eat) one of your kitties for 3 food – which you can then use to feed the other kittens.
This same four-phase pattern is continued until all players have had a chance to play and choose a role. You then check to see if a game-ending condition has been met. If not, pass the start player token along and do it again. Any role(s) that were not chosen in the current round have 1 Food placed on them as a bonus to be given to whomever chooses that role next.
Game ends when one of three things happens at the end of a round: 1) all the field tiles are gone, 2) all the irrigation markers are used, or 3) one player has employed all of their kitty helpers from the supply. At that point, you count up the final score
- 3 pts for each kitty helper/shopkeeper
- 1 or 2 points per irrigation marker (you score one pt for each field that it irrigates)
- 2 points per food sold to a shopkeeper
- 3 points per gold sold to a shopkeeper
- 1 point for unused gold
- +1 food for each kitty helper in the awake state at the end of the game
- 1 point for 2 unused food
The player with the highest score wins!
My thoughts on the game so far
Jungle Rumble is really a stripped down version of Puerto Rico, and it works quite well in that regard. The individual actions are easy to follow, and it serves as an excellent introduction to the genre of role selection. Without having buildings with individual actions, there is a lot less to follow – which I think can be a good thing.
Like other role selection games, a key to victory is figuring out how to take advantage of other players roles to accomplish to things that you want to do. One important thing to keep track of is your kitty status though – if you want to do something, you need to have kitties that are awake!
One other thing to be aware of are the game ending conditions – a 4p game starts with only 22 fields and 24 waterways in the supply. The game will end quicker than you think it will! (Or at least quicker than anyone in my two games was expecting). Factor this into your engine building plans… A lot of points can be scored by selling things to shop keepers, but you have to have enough time to sell stuff to take advantage of this! Additionally, a well timed burst of kitty birthing can quickly bring the game to an end.
The first two games have both come in under 45 minutes, and the rules have been easy to teach from my standpoint. The artwork is cutesy – what I think is typical of the Asian cartoony style – and the components are of good sturdy material. Like many other Asian games, the box is a sticky plastic coated finish – but nothing out of the ordinary.
Thus far, this has been the second game from Taiwan that I have been very happy to have had a chance to play (Da Yu: The Flood Conqueror being the other one). This game fits a good niche for a quick, lighter game that still has a lot of good decisions to be made. This will likely fall right in between the “I love it” and “I like it” ratings for me – but a few more plays will help me decide into which ratings bucket this falls.
Thoughts from other Opinionated Gamers:
Joe Huber (4 plays): This is easily one of my favorite games from Essen 2014 – a more typical crop for me, after the outstanding selections from 2013. Two of my favorite discoveries this year – Jungle Rumble and King of Frontier – have been games heavily influenced by Puerto Rico and at least one other game (Agricola in the case of Jungle Rumble; Carcassonne in the case of King of Frontier), but significantly shorter. Jungle Rumble is already a game I strongly like, and has a very reasonable chance of hitting the “I love it!” level with more play.
Who is the Sunflower?
- Designer: Nightsorrow Chou, Zeldaaa Ling
- Publisher: Eros Games
- Players: 2-7
- Ages: 6+
- Time: about 10 minutes
- Times played: 3 with preview copy provided by Taiwan Boardgames Design
OK, so some of the rules to the Taiwanese games are a bit loose… This one perhaps looser than most. This is supposed to be a social deduction game. In this game, you are randomly given a role, and your win condition depends on what role you have. For example – in a 5 player game, the roles are: Student, Sunflower, Policeman, Banana, Banana King. (And, no, I have no idea why someone is a Banana or a Banana King).
During the course of this short game, each player is trying to either find another character or be found by someone else. The Banana King is the outsider here – really more of an arbiter – the Banana King watches the game and tries to decide which team is going to win. If he can predict the winning team, then the Banana King gets a point.
One of the two teams is made up of the Student and the Sunflower. The Student is trying to find the Sunflower. The Sunflower is trying to be found by the Student. Sounds easy so far, right? Well, it gets complicated when you consider the other side: The policeman and the Banana. The Policeman is trying to discover who the Student it. If the Policeman can determine who the Student is before the Student can find the Sunflower, then the Policeman’s side wins. The Banana is really just poser, a wannabe Sunflower. The Banana’s goal is to convince the Student to choose him instead of the real Sunflower. If the Student chooses the Banana, then the Banana’s team wins.
So, how does it all go down? That’s the funny thing. The rules really don’t tell you. It’s pretty much a free-for-all of bluffing, lying, making brash statements, posturing, etc. Well, that’s how I think it’s supposed to work. I suppose you have to have imagination or something – whatever it is, I don’t got it. In our group, it turned out to be a bunch of people sort of staring at each other until someone gets tired of the game (usually within the first 90 seconds) and simply makes a declaration of who he thinks is the Sunflower or Student or whatever. Without any guidelines on how to move forward with the discussions, the end result was almost no discussion. Or a bunch of people just saying random things that may or may not be true.
This one totally fell flat in my group, and I’m fairly certain that we’re not the target audience for it. I’m still waiting to hear from someone (Anyone) who had a good time playing this one. Even my werewolf friends have found this one to be disappointing.