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Jambo is the friendly greeting Swahili traders offered their customers in Central Africa before colonization. The players are traders in this day, competing to be the first to earn 60 gold by buying and selling tea, hide, fruits, salt, silk, and trinkets. The game is played with cards which allow players to buy and sell goods, can help you or hinder your opponent, and others which add a bit of spice to the game. Return to the dark continent where the players alternate turns with up to 5 actions each until one player reaches the goal and wins the game.

User Reviews (2)

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Player Avatar
I play blue
Cooperative Game Explorer
16 of 16 gamers found this helpful
“Pineapples, Trinkets, and Salt, Oh My!”

I was introduced to Jambo a few years ago by one of the owners of Greenfield Games in Greenfield, Massachusetts. Unfortunately, the game wasn’t in stock at the time – I had to wait, oh so patiently, for Jambo to grace their shelves once more. I was not disappointed when I was finally able to add it to my collection. It’s a solid experience for two players (great for couples), and a great way to discuss economics and maximization within board games.

How does it look?: Jambo is a pretty good-looking game. The artwork is solid and thematic without being distracting. When it comes down to it, Jambo is an abstract economic game, so don’t expect to be wowed and immersed.

The cards are of standard quality. As with any card game, sleeves will increase the longevity of your cards if you expect heavy play. The non-card components are great! You get a nice set of tokens representing the different trade goods, as well as money in the form of 1 and 5-gold tokens. The final pieces are the Action markers, which are a great means of physically representing what a player can do (more on this in the next section). The rulebook and box are of solid quality, but you’ll definitely want to snag a couple plastic baggies for all the tokens.

How does it play?: Jambo is a fantastic example of economic/risk & reward games. Each of the two players runs a stall with limited space. The core of the game is buying goods then turning them around for a profit. Goods are purchased and sold by playing cards depicting the goods, along with a Buy price and a higher Sell price. The goods are piece-limited, and a player MUST have room in their stall for all of the goods depicted on a card. Knowing when to buy is very important, or else you wind up with goods just sitting around, useless!

The other cards in the game are various people, animals and special items. People tend to allow special actions, like buying and selling goods at a modified price, or starting an auction. Animals are cards used for interfering with the other player – swapping goods, breaking their items, and so on. Items stay in front of a player for repeat use, capable of being activated once per turn. Some allow additional card draws, or exchanging cards in hand for gold.

One element of play that I really like is the Action markers. Each player gets five actions per turn. Every time an action is taken, the other player keeps track of this by pulling away an Action marker. I love the physicality of it, and it keeps the other player engaged when it is not their turn. Engagement is good!

Overall Impression: I will not deny that Jambo has its downsides. Because cards are drawn from a shared deck, the game’s random factor can occasionally be a drag. If one player manages to really kick it off with card-drawing abilities, it can leave the other player in the dust.

I would recommend Jambo to anyone looking for a good game for gamer couples. It’s also great for players who would like to learn how to optimize, plan and take risks – because there are only two players, you only have one other person waiting on you to take your darn turn! You owe it to yourself to grab a friend and try this game!

Player Avatar
United Kingdom
I play green
14 of 15 gamers found this helpful
“Fantastic 2-Player Travel Game!”

The game is small (In terms of actual box size and contents). It contains just over 100 cards and a bundle of tokens, making it a great 2-player travel game. We do also play it at home sometimes as it is genuinely a great game, but you could even play this on a plane! (It would be a bit tight, but you could manage it!)

Admittedly, there is quite a bit of luck involved – the luck of the draw. No dice are used. You do have a few options you can make each turn, but when it comes down to it, it is about getting a good hand.

So during your turn, you have 5 action tokens, meaning you can make 5 actions. There is a pile of stock cards, and a pile of discard cards. Then each player has some cards in their hand which the other player cannot see, and up to 3 “Utility cards” which the other player can see. Each player will also have 1 “Market Place” card with 6 empty ware slots on it (the aim of the game is to make 60 gold first, and you achieve this by buying and selling resources with the use of “Ware” Cards). At the start of your turn, you pick up 1 card from the stock pile for free, and then you can make the following actions with action tokens:

*Discard the card you just freely picked up, and pick up another one (you can keep doing this until you make a different action, but each time you do, it will cost 1 action token)

*Play a Utility card (Utility cards get turned face down after use, then at the beginning of your next turn, you may use it again). Utility cards will do things such as pay 1 gold and receive 1 ware of your choice.

*Play a person card. These cards are normally instant quick-fixes such as: draw 2 more cards.

*Play an Animal card. These are attack cards. They could do things such as “Both players place all their cards (only the cards in their hand, not the utility cards or marketplaces which are face-up on the table) face up in the middle of the table, then each player takes it in turns to take a card of their choice. So for example with this card, if you were down to 2 cards and your opponent clearly had about 10, this card would be beneficial for you to use!

*Play a Ware card. These cards are the core essence of the game. For example, a ware card may have 2 sugar and 1 tea. It will also have 2 gold values, one higher than the other. If you want to buy these goods, you place the card in the discard pile, take the wares on the card, place them on your market stand, and spend the gold of the lower number on the card. If you want to sell these goods, you would have to find that exact same card again, and then you would discard the card again and gain the amount of gold which has the higher value of the 2 values written on the card. Remember: You have 6 slots on your default market stand, and all the ware cards have different wares on them, so for example, you could buy on 1 card: 2 tea and 1 fur for 3 gold. Then with another card, you could buy 2 sugar and 1 Textiles for 4 gold. Now your market place is full with 2 tea, 2 sugar, 1 fur and 1 textiles, and you have spent 7 gold. You could then find another card which is 1 fur, 1 sugar, 1 tea. You could then sell these items for the higher value stated on the card (which is usually about 10 gold) so now you’d have sold half of your wares but have made 3 gold profit and you still have 3 wares left!

So that’s all the game is. Some strategy, some luck of the draw, and some good, fun, simple buying and selling for profit.

The only downside to the game is the game time. 1 game could last 30 minutes, yet another game could last 3 hours. It really is based on how much attacking is going on, and how lucky the players are with the ware cards they’ve been finding. (For example, player 1 has 3 tea and 3 fur on their market place. He keeps drawing ware cards which require him to have 2 sugar and 1 fruit, and he’s not finding any cards which allow him to trade 1 ware for another ware. This player is not going anywhere in a hurry, and Player 2 could be having a similar problem).

There is a good interaction level in the game, since there are attack cards, and even some utility cards such as “You pick 2 cards, your opponent picks 1 card” so it’s generally quite a friendly game, it’s just the animal (attack) cards which can sometimes cause one player to get a little frustrated (Finally! I got the ware card I’ve been after for so long so I can now clear some of my wares, make some gold, and then buy some different wares! Oh wait…My opponent just took it from me….ARGHHH!)

The rule-book is about 6 pages long and is mostly pictures. Pretty much anyone could play this. It’s a great filler game/travel game, and it just runs so smoothly. Bear in mind though it is 2-player only!

If you already have a light-weight, compact, 2-player filler game which is your go-to game for the occasion, then maybe you won’t need this game, but if you’re looking for a game to fit those specifics, I would highly recommend this game!

tl;dr: See 2 previous paragraphs! Some strategy, some luck, and a whole lot of fun! Take it in turns to buy for little and sell for lots! Simple!


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