Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Jump Gate - first thoughts

I've played a couple games of Matt Worden's Jump Gate now (and won zero of them).  It's a different game than I expected, but I've enjoyed it a lot.  Some observations:

  • The game is way more fun to play than I thought it would be from reading the rules the first time.  That's mostly a good thing (far better than the opposite) but it would be better if the fun showed through from the rules.  I worry about that with Diggity some.  For Jump Gate, it seemed like there would be some pretty simple set collection, some different kinds of moves to make, and then not much complexity, but there ends up being a surprisingly non-obvious set of strategic decisions you've got to make to use your relatively scarce turns, and figuring out how to maximize your score is tricky.
  • The theme is neat, and fits the game well, but it's only loosely integrated into the game - what I mean by this is that you could pretty easily switch the whole thing to, say, a carnival theme, where you're picking up sets of stuffed animals and candy, rather than the space ship one.
  • The art is great - very neat design and layout.
  • The manufacturing part seems also to be great.  The rules are in color, the components bagged and good quality, the box really neat.  This was a self-publishing effort by Matt, and he's clearly done well with it.  I'm not sure how many he got made in his print run, but I'd guess these cost him in the neighborhood of $10-15 each minimum, maybe more, for 2000-3000 copies, which makes it hard to sell them at retail through a distributor, which I don't think he's doing given the relatively small set of companies it's offered at.  This is nothing wrong that Matt did - it's just a really hard part of being a small publisher.
I'll save a full review for when I've played it a few more times, but I like it.  My son chose it in particular to bring to show his cousins.

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