Review – Jamaica

Posted on by Jesta

A Hand Management, Racing game.

Title: Jamaica

Year Published: 2007

Designer: Malcolm Braff, Bruno Cathala, Sébastien Pauchon

Publisher: Gameworks

Players: 2-6

Game Time: ~60 mins

Set-up Time: ~2 mins

Ages: 8+

Theme: Pirates

Mechanic: Racing, Hand Management

How to win: Have the most Doubloons at the end of the race.

Game Description

Jamaica, 1675.

After a long career in piracy, Captain Henry Morgan skillfully gets appointed to be Governor of Jamaica, with the explicit order to cleanse the Caribbean of pirates and buccaneers! Instead, he invites all of his former “colleagues” to join him in his retirement, to enjoy the fruits of their looting with impunity. Each year, in remembrance of the “good old days,” Morgan organises the Great Challenge, a race around the island, and at its end, the Captain with the most gold is declared Grand Winner.

Set Up

This is fairly quick and is done over a couple of steps…

Randomly (and secretly) select 9 of the 12 treasure cards, shuffle them and put them in the middle of the board. Put the combat die on the Fortress and a treasure token on each Pirate Lair around the outside of the board… (They look like Skull caves around the board)

Captains sail their ship to the starting space on the board and shuffle their deck, placing it above or below their hold. Each Captain adds 3 treasure and 3 food into two separate holds on their ship.

Select a random starting Captain, give them the start player Compass and Dice and then each Captain draws 3 cards and you’re ready to set sail.

Game Play

Each round starts with the current Captain rolling the dice and placing them on either space in the middle of the board. The order of the dice matter as one (Placed to the left) refers to the day part of your card and the other one (on the right) represents the evening.

These are the values you’ll use for these cards.

If this card is chosen the 3 will be the Morning action (move forward 3 spaces) and 2 in the Evening (load 2 food)

Then, each Captain chooses a card from their hand after having inspected the dice. They then place that card face down on top of their discard pile.

Once everyone has done this, the Captain flips over their card and resolves the morning action, then the evening action using the relevant die. Then in clockwise order, all Captains resolve both sides of their cards.

From top to bottom… Move Forward, Move Backward, Load Food, Load Cannons, Load Gold. The symbols are explained below.

Movement – Move X in that direction, ships can go backwards as well as forwards depending on the arrow. Then resolve any combat, and then pay the cost of the space the ship landed on (more on those in a bit)

Load – Add X of that item to an EMPTY HOLD on the ship. A hold containing resources of a DIFFERENT type can be discarded to make room.

If a Ship ends it’s movement on a space with another ship, they fight with the active player designated as the attacker.

The active Pirate spends X gunpowder tokens and adds that amount to a die roll for their attack strength. So if you spend 4 tokens and roll a 4, your total is 8.

Then, the defender does the same with the highest total between the 2 Captains winning the combat.

Nothing happens in a tie but if the Star/Explosion icon is rolled they automatically win, even if it’s rolled when attacking the defender doesn’t get to defend, they lost already!

4 Cannons plus a 10 roll.. 14!

The winner can either steal the contents of a single hold from the other ship, steal a treasure card or give a cursed treasure card they own to that Captain. Unlucky!

How do you get these Treasure cards? Well, if there is a treasure token on your space the token is removed from the game and you draw a treasure card. You can have any number of treasure cards placed next to your holds.

Some spaces have a cost that needs to be paid so this is paid now…

The Pirate Lairs, (the ones that start the game with Treasure tokens on) are free. Pirates won’t charge other Pirates for docking here.

Ports have no such leniency and are not free, you need to pay the number of Doubloons on the Golden Needle of that Port to stay here.

The Yellow ship will dock here at a cost of 5 Gold

If a Ship ends out at Sea the hard working Pirates need to be fed so it costs 1 food per square showing on a sea space.

Hard work makes the Pirates hungry, it costs 4 Food to end on this space.

If you can’t pay these costs, pay as much as you can then move back to a space that you can pay the full amount.

The Red Captain couldn’t pay the 3 food, so they pay the 2 food they have and move back to a Pirate Den.

Once everyone has resolved their cards, everyone draws a new card from their deck and the responsibility of being Captain passes to the left.

Game End

When a Captain reaches Port Royal they end their turn, even if they have the evening action left to take on this turn they forfeit it. You won the race, relax, take the evening off.

But, the other Captains continue as normal then complete final scoring when everyone has taken their turn. Time to tally up the scores.

The white number on the space your ship ended on is worth that many Doubloons. So don’t lag behind, you’ll look weak and it will cost you Doubloons getting everyone drunk to forget your disgrace once you’re back in the pub.

Your treasure cards are worth a number of doubloons printed on the card, Cursed treasure reduces your final total by that many doubloons, obviously, it’s cursed and has a value far beyond zero.

The Captain with the most doubloons wins, in the case of a tie the Captain furthest ahead when the race ended wins

Round Up

It’s a very simple, very fun game.

It has a BIT of take that, but nothing too bad and besides, it’s fighting Pirate ships and that’s never bad 🙂

You only ever have 3 cards in your hand but you actually always have enough choice of that to play. If you had more cards you’d almost always make the perfect move and it would be boring a bit.

With 3 cards there are some turns were you either don’t move, or move backwards or find it hard to not land in spaces you don’t want to land on.

The art is great, the components are nice and all in all it’s a decent game for all levels of gamer.


A very fun and simple game.

I give it 8/10

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