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  • Jambo
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Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
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on August 27, 2008
It's often difficult to find a good board game that can be played with just 2 people. Rio Grande Games has done a great job with Jambo, a board game that uses cards and "tokens" (for wares and gold) to depict a market competition between two merchants. Basically you and your opponent are two merchants competing to buy and sell wares, and the first person to reach 60 gold effectively triggers the ending of the game (but his or her opponent then has one last turn to try to catch up to win). The game play is not difficult to pick up but is still complex enough to be slightly strategic, particularly given the wide array of utility cards, people cards, and animal cards that you can play to help yourself and/or hinder your opponent. I wouldn't recommend this for extremely young children, but anyone 12+ should enjoy it.

Compared to other games we've tried, Jambo stands out because it has more replay value than games like Gloom or Guillotine (both games which are fairly dependent on luck, and have low replay value because the fun lies largely with the novelty of the cards and the game concept).

If you're interested in Jambo but want to consider a few other 2-player games, I'd also recommend "Lost Cities" (another card game by Rio Grande that offers a good mix of fun and strategy) or "Set" (this card game is a pure thinking game, sort of like Memory, no luck involved, so I'd recommend it if you're looking for an educational game that can be played with a flexible number of people).
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on September 26, 2010
Jambo is an amazing game!!! I purchased this game so my newly wedded wife and I could have some fun at home and pass the time without spending much money. This was a perfect purchase for us. I can honestly say this is one of my favorite games of all time. Jambo is a game that involves strategy, but is not difficult to learn. Here are my main points:

1. The goal of the game is to be the first "merchant" to gain 60 gold selling "wares" which are basically goods that you sell. What make this game so much fun are all of the animal cards, people cards, and utility cards. You use these three types of cards for your strategy and they all have different attributes. Animal and people cards are diverse and attack and defend in many different ways. Utility cards are cards that are kept in play and have special abilities that you can use during multiple rounds.

2. Every game will last around 45 minutes which is a big plus because I didn't want a game that ended too fast but I also didn't want a game that took forever. I can honestly tell you that the 45 minutes is a pretty spot on estimate for every Jambo game that you play. As you and your partner become more experienced, it will take around 30 minutes to play.

3. One thing I will say is that if you don't like card games that involved reading some text, you will probably not enjoy this game. The cards that you play have text that explains what the card "does" once you play it. The first three games you are getting used to learning what each card means. For instance, the "crocodile" animal card takes one your opponents utility cards and discards it in the discard pile. It actually says that on the card. The "throne" utility card allows you to take one ware (good) from your ware stand and trade it for any one ware on your opponent's stand. It tells you that on the "throne" card. After three games you will have learned almost all of the cards by heart. It is worth the minimal amount of reading to be able to play this game! I assure you of that!

4.Next, in this game, there is some luck, but hardly any. It takes mostly strategy on your part to win the game. I would say 90% strategy and 10% luck because there are so many ways of getting to 60+ gold that there are really very few "bad" cards in the deck. Depending on how you look at it.

5.Anyone can win! My wife is a nurse and I am a teacher. We are both pretty good at strategy games. So far, I have won 3 games and she won 2, and every game was VERY close. A solid strategy will guide you to victory and every game feels new and fresh.

6.Also, I enjoyed how on every turn you get five actions: take a card, play a card from your hand, buy wares, sell wares, play a utility card. You get to take up to five actions on each turn which really helps you to form a strategy and its not the same, "I move....you move....I move...you move" type of game.

7.Other great features include: Easy Easy Easy to understand directions, great art design, wonderful price (I honestly would pay more than double for this game), durable cards, and the fact that once you have played this 100 times there are expansions for the game that make it fresh and new.

In conclusion, if you are looking for an incredibly fun, addicting, simple, but yet strategic game that sucks you in and never has a down moment, you will LOVE Jambo! I give it my highest praise and recommendation!
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on January 30, 2008
I purchased this game as a gift for my boyfriend at Christmas. Although the instructions were initially a bit overwhelming, this game is extremely easy to learn and fun to play. The game is only for two players and takes maybe an hour to play.

It's basically a buying and selling game, wherein you have gold pieces and you purchase and sell goods with the goal of making the most money. Each turn you get five actions, and so the game moves pretty quickly and is never dull, because you can keep track of how many actions your opponent is using or be planning out your next turn in the downtime. What I like best about the game is the end, because it's "not over til it's over" in that the game ends when a player reaches a certain number of points, but the opponent gets one last turn to try to equal or beat that number for the win.

I would highly recommend this game to anyone who enjoys Settlers of Catan or Puerto Rico or San Juan, and if you haven't played those games, I'd recommend them as well.
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on October 24, 2014
This is a really fun game for 2 players, with the small expansion (additional cards) it gets even better. If it was in print, the game would cost around $20-$30. After all the box is about 7 inches square and 1.5 inches deep, a really small box. Having sad that, the game play is really fun and easily worth $20-30.

If you still want the game look at Asante. It is almost 95% the same exact game -- and it is in print (cheap). If you are not a collector and just want to play - Asante is the game for you. All the fun and enough money to buy more stuff from Amazon.

Skip the 3rd party ripoff - buy Asante or at least watch the video review on Board Game Geek by Tom Vasel.
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on October 7, 2013
Jambo: 2 Players, Ages 12+, Average Play Time = 30-45 Minutes

The game is extremely simple to play, which surprised me a bit. Often in card games like this, getting used to the card types and their effects can take a little time. In the case of Jambo, the cards were easy to understand and neither Vinnie (11) nor myself had problems understanding what they did. The cards themselves are nice to look at and convey information relatively well. The manual does a good job in explaining how the game works, though some of the explanations felt long-winded.

There is a fair amount of strategy involved, especially when picking and playing utility cards. My son enjoyed playing the "scale", which allowed him to draw two cards, pick one to keep, and give me the other one. This worked to his advantage, but I was enjoying a steady stream of cards as a result. The limited space on the market stands will make players think twice before buying up the first ware cards that they are presented with. I often waited to buy until I had a similar ware card that I could quickly use to sell the wares I just bought. Later in the game as I purchased markets stands, I was able to buy wares from two or three cards at a time, then use one or two to sell some of them. Luck comes into play a bit as you sometimes may not draw the ware cards you need to sell the wares you have. The game does offset this by giving certain action cards the ability to sell any wares you want, but at a reduced price.

Vinnie summed up his review with one short sentence, "This is a great game right here." The game was simple enough for him to play but complex enough that it didn't bore him. He enjoyed buying up all of the wares he could, though often didn't understand the concept of making a profit. When he bought six wares for twelve gold, then sold three wares for twelve gold, he made the comment that he was right back where he started. It was my job as father and accountant to explain the concept of "assets" and their value. After a while, it began to sink in.

Overall, I really enjoyed my time with Jambo. I highly recommend it for couples or for when a parent wants one on one time with their kid. Excellent, excellent game.
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on February 26, 2014
We have had this game for about two years and we really like it. It is simple enough where it could be learned relatively quickly but involves some strategy and interaction between the two players.
Like most card games, a big factor in this game is luck, but there is some strategy and thinking involved. You have to decide the best value you can get for the goods you own. The extremely limited space forces you to make decisions as to what you will buy and sell, which actions you will use, and also if you will just take a gold piece instead of finishing your turn!
I would definitely recommend this game to anyone looking for a two player card game. It is easy to learn, fun to play, and has good replay value.
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on April 12, 2008
We purchased this game 2 years ago after reading a review on it. Our family has two adults and two teenagers, and we all enjoy this game.

The scenario is that you compete against another trader (opponent) to see who can buy/sell enough wares; the first person to have sixty gold pieces wins the game.

But the game doesn't just consist of buying and selling; there are animals that can help/hinder you and utility cards that can help you achieve your goal. It all depends on what cards you get, and how expertly you play your hand.

When we first played this game it took us an hour and a half, because each card has a description of what it does, so it took a while to read all of the cards. Now we can play this game in about 20 minutes.

I just found out there is an expansion pack, so I just ordered that. I am excited to add to the fun!
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on February 22, 2014
This was a gift. Person loved the book and said it was fun. She always wanted this game when she gets together with her MENSA group. Yes, brilliant people play games too! Arrived in a timely manner.
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on July 10, 2011
For many games, after you play them a few times, you develop a strategy and just follow it each game. That isn't going to work for Jambo. The game has a lot of different cards, with very different behaviors. Depending on what you get, you are going to need to adopt different strategies. While there is some luck in what cards you get, there are still a lot of decisions to make in how you use your cards. We've had this game for at least 2 years, and still play it frequently. A game will generally take about an hour.

Once you've had the game for a while, I'd recommend adding the expansion packs Rio Grande GamesJambo Expansion and Jambo Expansion 2. These add quite a few additional cards, and keep the game fresh. I'd recommend buying both expansions together. The first expansion can't be added without removing a bunch of the cards from the original deck, but if you buy both expansions together, you can just mix all the cards at once.
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on December 28, 2013
On first playthrough, I thought "oh no, we bought a dud." It's a capitalism game, simple as that. You spend money to make money, and at various points you can steal from or trade with your opponent to shake things up. It was fun but not incredible fun. It seemed too simple.
However, a few weeks down the line, I notice that my sweetheart and I seem to always reach for Jambo when we "just want to play a good game." There's not too much depth, but that's not what this game is meant for. The more we get comfortable with every card and strategy, the more we enjoy the interaction of playing together. Some simpler games lose play value as you get "too familiar," but something about Jambo works for us. It's satisfying and comfortable.
It doesn't take a great intellect or impressive strategy to play Jambo, but perhaps that is part of its strength. It's accessible too, taking perhaps a couple games to get good enough to win against a more experienced player. Even losing is kind of fun. All in all, I would have rated this three stars when I first played it, but now it's a solid four stars and has a fond place in our game collection.
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