Game: Jungle Joust
Designer: Adrian Adamescu, Daryl Andrews
Published: IDW Games
Players: 2-6 players
Playtime: 30-45 Minutes
Play Type: Betting/ Wagering
You have arrived in the capital of the kingdom for the spectacle of the year. Strong warriors riding rhinos are ready to compete in the jousting tournament. Only the quick and mighty will prevail, and it is your chance to make it big. Place your bets correctly, and gain riches. Bet carelessly, and fall into a life of debt. Make sure to use your favors carefully and select the right knight to cheer on.
Jungle Joust is a betting game in which players will compete against one another to ensure that their rhino is victorious in the joust. Players will set up with board in the middle of the table, with the fence in the middle and jousters on either side. Then create stock piles of all money, debt and favor tokens. Additionally players will take the betting chits and place them in ten piles with corresponding colors and symbols with the three chit stacked on top of the two. Finally, players will shuffle the joust deck, giving each player two cards and setting two additional cards face up to form the tableau. During the beginning of the game, players will be assigned either a red allegiance or black allegiance. This corresponds to the knight they will be rooting for.
During a player’s turn they will take up to three actions in the following order: play to a tilt, take other actions, draw one or two cards.
- Play to a Tilt: Players will take a card from their hand and play it on either side of the field, overlapping the previous card so that only the symbols at the bottom at visible. Then move the rider forward so that the clash symbol at the front of the rhino lines up with the current card symbols. In order to play a card, the symbols on their card must match at least one symbol on the card placed prior to it. Players must play at least one card if they are able, but they can place as many cards as they would like.
- Take Other Actions: This is an optional action players are able to do. When taking another action players may take a betting chit or bet on the victor.
- Draw One or Two Cards: Players may choose to either draw one card from the face up tableau or two from the deck. There is a hand limit of three cards. If you hold more than three, discard cards of your choosing until you only hold three cards.
Players continue taking these actions until the two clash symbols on the jousters meet. This will trigger a round of scoring. There will be three rounds of scoring, and the person with the most money at the end of those rounds will be victorious. Let’s take a closer look at how players score points:
- Favor: Players earn favor by lining up three identical symbols and colors in a row on a tilt. They then take a favor token and place it on the third symbol in the matching color. Additionally, if a rider moves into a space with a favor token they place the corresponding number of favor tokens on the board.
- This gives the player an immediate bonus.
- If the player placed a strength favor they immediately discard the leading card on the other tilt, discarding any favor on the card discarded. They also move the rider back so the clash symbol is lined up with the symbols from the revealed card.
- If the player placed a defense favor the player draws a card from the deck, which will be taken into their hand during step three.
- If the player places an accuracy favor, they select a card from the tableau and immediately use it to bet on the victor.
- Aside from favor giving an immediate benefit, it is also used to determine the winner of a joust. When counting favor during the end of the round, riders score 2 points for favor of their matching color, and 1 point for favor matching the other color. The rider with the most points is the victor. Players will then score their allegiance, and gain money equal to the number of points scored.
- This gives the player an immediate bonus.
- Betting Chits: If a player chose to take any betting chits during their turn, they will then score those. Betting chits are scored in one of three ways, depending on the symbol on the chit.
- Strength, Defense and Accuracy are all scored the same way. For these chits players will count the number of favors on both tilts. Start with red, then count black. Players will get two points for favor matching the color of the tilt, and one point for favors that do not correspond with the tilt. The color with the most points wins the bet. The winning color will earn money equal to the number on the chits. If the bet was incorrect, the player must pay one coin back to the supply.
- Movement are scored differently. For movement chits players look only at the victor’s tilt. They count the number of red arrows, and black arrows. The color with the most arrows wins. The winning color will earn money equal to the number on the chits. If a bet was incorrect players must play one coin back to the supply.
- Valor is determined by the victor.Those with betting chits in the color of the victor will gain the amount on the chit. The loser will pay one coin back to the supply.
- Betting Cards: During play, players have the option to take one card from their hand, and place it next to the corresponding color on which they would like to bet on the back of their allegiance shield. They may do this once per turn, meaning that during the scoring phase there can be multiple cards to be scored. During the scoring phase players will count the number of color corresponding symbols on the cards they have played. If the player bet on the correct color, they will get one coin per correct symbol. If they chose an incorrect symbol they will pay one coin per symbol in that color.
Players will do three rounds, scoring after each clash. The player with the most coins after the third clash wins the game.
Jungle Joust includes a 3-D jousting board, two 3-D jousting rhino riders, 70 cardboard coins, 46 cardboard markers (allegiance, debt markers, betting chits), 16 wooden favor pieces and 52 cards.
Due to the 3-D nature of the jousting field, the game has a visually interesting table presence. The 3-D components are sturdy, and go together easily, taking only a minute or two to put together. The cardboard makers are made of thick, sturdy cardboard that punches out easily with no rips or tears. The artwork is vibrant, and eye catching with easily distinguishable symbols.
One thing players should be aware of is carefully placing cards on the tilt. If cards get shuffled by movement, it can be difficult to determine which box the rider should be in. The more cards placed, the more difficult this can be to determine. With this exception, the game is easy to set up, and has good components that should hold up against wear and tear.
- Unique Theme
- Strong Table Presence
- Fast Turns
- Quality Components
- Ability to Manipulate Scoring
- High Player Count
- Convoluted Scoring
- Rulebook is Unclear
- Random Card Draws Overly Important
The first thing that stands out to me about Jungle Joust is it’s theme. There is no doubt in my mind that you will not find another game with a rhino jousting theme on the market. The game components add clearly to the theme. Anybody walking by the table will know that you are playing a game about jousting. The unique pieces will also draw curiosity of other players because of its strong table presence.
In addition to the theme, Jungle Joust does provide an interesting take on the betting or waging mechanics by allowing players to easily manipulate either side of the joust. Players can choose to help or hinder either side of the joust, and sometimes will even be forced to assist the other tilt because of the cards they are dealt. It keeps the game play fresh, as players will have to adjust their turns accordingly to what the other players did. However, much of the game does come down to the randomness of card draws because of that. Players spend a lot of the game hoping that whatever is in their hand will still be useful by the time their turn comes back around again. This is especially true in higher player count games where players may get only a few turns each round. It gives the game an air of randomness that many strategic players may find off putting.
The way the rule book is laid out is difficult to follow, and makes learning the rules difficult. For instance, players may be seeking to find out what the favor tokens printed on the board mean, and would expect to find that information under either favors or maybe under the play to a tilt section, but it is instead listed after the clash section (which leads into scoring). Flipping through the rule book took significantly longer than it should have for a relatively simple game.
However, my main concern is with the scoring of the game. It is very fiddly, and with the poor lay out of the rule book, can be extremely difficult to learn and teach to other players. Players must know when to look at just one tilt, when to look at both tilts, when to only consider the victor and when they need to consider the victor, symbols and tilts. If the scoring was simplified, it could have taken this game from a meh game to strong option for a simple betting/wagering game.
As it stands, Jungle Joust is an okay game, with a interesting theme, strong table presence and a interesting take on the betting mechanic. After a few rounds, players are able to figure out the scoring and the game moves more quickly. Players who enjoying wagering games with some luck and some strategy will likely enjoy Jungle Joust. I would suggest trying it if you enjoy Camel Up but are looking for something slightly more complex, or something that you can more easily manipulate.