I’ve been working on a new edition of Jump Gate for the past few months. This new 3rd edition will be available via TheGameCrafter.com’s online shop. (Until the 3rd edition is released, that link will take you to the 1st edition.) My projected release timeframe is the end of June 2013.
I’ve made a number of changes to the game, both in aesthetics and game play. It will ship in TGC’s “Small Pro Box,” which is a lovely little thing (full print with bleed and wrap) that measures in at 5.5″ x 3.5″ x 1″. While not officially a “travel edition,” this could certainly be treated that way, since the box very easily fits in a backpack or a glove box.
This (very long) post will be going into great detail on all of the changes, including showing off some of the new artwork, and discussing the rules tweaks.
- 5 sets of player pieces … 1 Spaceship, 10 wooden cubes and 1 Player Reference card per set
- 1 Black Hole card
- 12 Planet cards
- 48 Resource cards
- 48 NavComp cards
The top and bottom box cover wraps are shown to the right, and the Planets and Black Hole card are to the left. Since the Jump Gate no longer is a scoring item (discussed below), it no longer has its own card. Instead, it is on the back of all of the Planet cards. The Planets, Black Hole and Player Reference cards are all poker sized cards.
The Resource and NavComp cards are now half-sized “mini” cards, and shown here:
Looking at these cards will show you a couple of things that have changed: the “Nothing” Resource cards have been replaced with “Sand,” and the NavComp special actions have been replaced with wildcard values … but let’s not get too far ahead — let’s walk through the rule changes one at a time, below.
So, now, onto the game play changes …
Maximum Players Reduced to 5: The original and 2nd editions allowed for up to 6 players. Playing the game with 6, however, wasn’t great … unless you really, really like overly-tight games that do not allow you to recover from a mistake. I think most people avoided playing with 6 … so, I simply reduced the max number in this edition to 5.
The Jump Gate is Gone (as a scoring item anyway): My first thought when this idea started to form: How could I even consider removing the Jump Gate scoring from a game with this name?! Well, the answer is: it fixed a number of problems that otherwise required some inelegant rules, and it simply made the game better. Now the concept of using the Jump Gate is still there — the “Jump” action, where you play a NavComp card to travel to a far-away planet is still an integral part of the game. But, the previous editions found that there were some cases where players would simply Jump and Jump and Jump without ending the game in an attempt to get the upper hand on those extra 5 points. So, how do you eliminate this “bad” (as in “making the game less fun”) behavior? Eliminate the reward for doing it. This then focuses the game around claiming Planets and collecting Resources, which is where I prefer it to be.
Special Actions Replaced by Wildcards: The NavComp deck was updated to now include “wildcard” values, which are identified with a tilde-style icon (“~”). This will allow you to Jump, Scan or Land for any code … which is what about 80% of the Special Actions did. And so, the Special Actions are removed. This actually helps the game feel tighter and removes the occasional frustration of having missed the chance to use a Special Action because you simply forgot about it.
“Nothing” Resource Cards Replaced by New “Sand” Resource: The original intent of having “Nothing” cards in the Resources deck was to make it so that you didn’t know if going to a planet was going to pay off or not. Spending your actions scanning and claiming a planet that was half “Nothing” was supposed to represent the risk-side of space exploration — spending time and money and not getting much out of it at times. But from a game-play perspective it was more of a anti-climatic thing, and I even heard of some players who would remove the Nothing cards from the deck before playing. So, I’ve added-in a new Resource, called Sand, that is a higher-contrast risk/reward item. When you don’t have many of them, they give you very few points. But, there are jumps in the scoring they provide to make it worthwhile to try to gain a larger number of them when the opportunity arises. It’s added-in an interesting new strategy in the mid- to late-game when players are trying to maximize their scores.
Players Start with Some Hidden Resources: Players are dealt a number of face-down Resource cards at the start of the game. These are considered part of each player’s collected Resources and used in the end-of-game scoring. They are kept hidden from the other players. This means you aren’t able to calculate a completely accurate score for the other players, but will see the majority of their collection as the game goes on.
Slightly Different Game-End Trigger: The game now ends one full turn after the last planet is claimed (no matter what Resources are still not collected), or immediately when the Black Hole’s last marker space is filled-in. The number of spaces on the Black Hole has been reduced to 7 as well. These changes make for a tighter, more natural feeling end-game. Things wrap-up right about the time it seems like they should. Although the Black Hole immediate end can still cut off a player’s plans early … as it should.
Scans Not Counted in Scoring: This final change is pretty minor, but I figured I should list it here since I’ve gone into such detail around everything else. In the first two editions, scans were kept marked throughout the game, and players received a point for each scan made. This has been removed. Scoring is now simply made up of the collection of Resources a player has, plus 3 points for each Planet claimed.