Jump gate is a two to six player space exploration game from MWGames. You play the part of a space ship captain traveling the cosmos looking for new planets and precious resources. There has just been a major scientific breakthrough called the Jump Gate which lets you travel great distances in an instant so the universe is now your playground.
In the box:
6 Space ships & Marking Chips – You choose a ship along with a stack of chips in the same color when you start the game.
48 Resource Cards – These are the various resources that can be found on a planet.
48 NavComp Cards – Each player will have a hand of these. They allow you take certain actions during your turn. Each card has two symbols and some have a special action on the top right corner.
1 Jump Gate Board – This will act as the center of the game. Every time someone jumps to a planet they will place one of their marking chips here.
1 Black Hole Board – On some of the resource cards there is a black hole icon. You place one of your marking chips here when you take one of those. If players gain too many cards with black hole icons it triggers a game ending condition.
12 Planet Boards – You shuffle and place eight of these in a circle around the Jump Gate and Black Hole. These are the planets the players may travel to.
Each planet has a jump code, a scan code, and a land code listed on the card. This tells you the correct NavComp card(s) you need to take those actions.
To play you take two actions per turn of the following:
Research – Draw until you have a full hand of five cards.
Fly Move your ship to a neighboring planet
Jump – Discard a NavComp card with the Jump Code of a planet to travel there.
Scan – Discard a NavComp card with the Scan Code of a planet: flip over one face down resource card, and place a marking chip in lower right corner.
Land and Claim – Discard two NavComp cards with the Landing Codes of a planet; flip all face down resource cards, place marking chip on top of planets name.
Harvest – Collect one Resource card on the planet your ship is currently at. Planet must be already claimed to Harvest.
Special Action – Discard a NavComp card with a special action and perform that action.
The game ends if there are nine marking chips on the Black Hole or if all planets have been claimed and the only Resource cards left have black hole icons.
I was immediately intrigued by Jump Gate after playing my first game. The rules felt finely tuned and the mechanics just worked so well within the theme. It was a very satisfying game experience. Jump Gate is long enough to get a good strategy going but short enough that it doesn’t over stay its welcome. After everyone memorizes the available actions turns just seem to fly by and you rarely have to wait too long to make another move.
When playing Jump Gate make sure to utilize the Special Action cards. They keep the game interesting and can give you an edge if you use one at the right time. For example using a Special Ability costs one of your two available moves on a turn, but with the Inside Info card you get a full hand of cards and an extra action so you effectively get a full turn with a fresh hand of five cards. The Special Abilities give you a good amount of control over how you play and can also let your opponents surprise you with a neat maneuver.
The different kinds of Resource cards are interesting as well. You can collect Gems, Water, EnerGel and Famous Finds. Each category has a different way of maximizing point values when collecting them. I’ve always been a fan of this type of set collecting game and Jump Gate does it as well as any I’ve played. Jump Gate is a very well designed and extremely satisfying game experience. I have been continuously impressed in the quality of games that are coming from independent developers this year and Jump Gate may be one of the most impressive of them all.