- For ages 10 and up (publisher suggests 12+)
- For 1 to 6 players
- Approximately 45 minutes to complete
- Active Listening & Communication
- Counting & Math
- Logical & Critical Decision Making
- Pattern/Color Matching
- Strategy & Tactics
- Hand/Resource Management
- Area Control
- Child – Easy
- Adult – Easy
Theme & Narrative:
- Traverse the galaxy in search of profit
- Gamer Geek mixed!
- Parent Geek approved!
- Child Geek approved!
Business magnate and investor Elon Musk, best known for Tesla and SpaceX, said, “I think we are at the dawn of a new era in commercial space exploration.” Yes, soon, you can expect trucks, traffic jams, and giant floating billboard signs in space. In this game, a recent technological breakthrough allows humans to travel great distances in seconds, allowing for quick jumps to neighboring galaxies long thought unreachable. Such a wonder allows us to explore distant reaches of space like it was our backyard. And explore we do, not only with a great sense of wonder but for a need for profit. After all, owning a spaceship that can bend the fabric of space isn’t cheap, people.
Jump Gate (Fourth Edition), designed by Matt Worden and published by Matt Worden Games, is comprised of 12 circular Planet cards, 48 NavComp cards, 56 Resource cards, six sets of player pieces (in six different colors) that include a Reference card, a plastic Spaceship, and 12 Marker cubes, and two additional Reference cards used only if playing the game’s solitary variant. The cards are as thick and durable as your standard playing card, and the plastic bits are solid. The game artwork, also by Matt Worden, does a great job of furthering the game’s theme and narrative.
Note: This is a review of the fourth edition of the game. Jump Gate has undergone several updates, each improving upon the last release. To read our thoughts on the second edition, look at our older Jump Gate Game Review article.
The Big Bang (or Setting Up the Galaxy)
To set up the game, complete the following steps.
First, give each player their player pieces of the color of their choice. Any player pieces not used are returned to the game box.
Second, shuffle the Planet cards and deal to the table a number indicated in the rule book. The number of Planet cards dealt is based on the number of players in the game. Make sure the planet side is showing. Select one from the remaining undealt Planet cards, and place it in the middle of the playing area with the “Black Hole” side facing up. Now take a moment to arrange the dealt Planet cards so they are orbiting – as it were – the “Black Hole” in the middle of the playing area. Any undealt Planet cards are returned to the game box.
Third, have each player place their Spaceship next to one of the Planet cards. Feel free to do this in turn order sequence or use any other method the group likes. The only hard and fast rule here is only one Spaceship per Planet card is allowed. Don’t worry; this is just the starting point. Players will be traveling around in their Spaceship a great deal.
Fourth, shuffle the Resource cards and deal them to the table. There are two ways to go about this. The first is a defined list of each Resource card and the number that should be included to create a “balanced game.” That approach provides an even distribution of resource types based on the number of players. The other method, which is faster and more fun, is to take the entire deck and play with whatever becomes available. Regardless of your approach, several Resource cards will be dealt to each player face-down. Players may look at these cards but should keep them secret. From the remaining cards, deal three Resource cards face-down to each Planet card, placing the cards next to the “Hidden Resources” area and one Resource card face-up to the “Revealed Resources” area. Any Resource cards not dealt are returned to the game box.
Fifth, shuffle the NavComp (short for “navigational computer”) cards and deal five to each player face-down. Again, players should look at these cards but keep them secret until played. The remaining deck of NavComp cards is placed face-down. This is the NavComp draw deck for the duration of the game. Leave room for a discard pile. All discarded cards go into the discard pile face-up. If the draw deck is ever depleted, shuffle the discard pile to create a new one.
This completes the basic game setup. Decide who will go first and begin. Time to explore the galaxy and make some money!
Jump Gate is played in turns with no set number of turns per game. A player’s turn is comprised of two possible actions out of a total of six. Actions can be taken in any order, and the same action may be taken twice in one turn. Players are also welcome to take only one or no action on their turn.
Each action is summarized here.
This action allows the player to move their Spaceship to any adjacent Planet card (to the left or right) of their current Planet card location.
This action allows players to move their Spaceship to any other Planet card. However, to do so, the player will need to discard a NavComp card that has the same number value in a blue square as the Planet card’s number also in a blue square.
This action allows the player to reveal a Resource card currently located in the “Hidden Resource” area at the Planet card the player’s Spaceship is currently located. To do so, they must discard one NavComp card that has the same number value in a green circle as the Planet card’s number also in a green circle. Once the NavComp card is discarded, the player draws the topmost face-down Resource card and places it face-up in the “Revealed Resources” area of the Planet card. If the player has not yet placed one of the Markers, they may do so now on any revealed Resource card that does not currently have a Marker attached.
This action allows the player to land their Spaceship onto the Planet card they are orbiting. Before the player may do so, the Planet card must not already be claimed, all the Resources cards on the planet must be revealed, and the player must discard two NavComp cards that have the same numerical values in yellow triangles as the Planet card’s number also in yellow triangles.
If the player can do so, they claim the planet as their own. Each player with a Marker on the Planet card must retrieve their Marker and may optionally take the Resource card it was attached to or leave it on it. Then the player who claimed the Planet card may take one additional unclaimed Resource card from the planet if they so choose. Finally, they place their Marker on the Planet card, indicating they own it.
Claimed Resource cards are placed in front of the player, face-up. If a claimed Resource card has the “Black Hole” symbol, the player places one of their Markers on the next available number value on the “Black Hole” Planet card.
This action allows the player to collect revealed Resource cards from the Planet card their Spaceship is orbiting. At the cost of any one NavComp card (the number value doesn’t matter), the player may either take a Resource card that has their Marker (retrieving the Marker and the Resource card) or take any unclaimed Resource card but only if all the Resrouce cards on the Planet card have been revealed.
Again, if a collected Resource card has the “Black Hole” symbol, add a Marker to the “Black Hole” Planet card.
This action allows the player to discard as many NavComp cards as they like and then draw NavComp cards until they have no greater and no fewer than five NavComp cards.
It’s the End of the Galaxy As We Know It…
The game continues with players taking turns and actions until one of three conditions is met.
- The game ends at the end of the current player’s turn if the “Black Hole” has been activated because all the spaces on the track found on the “Black Hole” Planet card are filled with Markers. The number of spaces on the track to be filled depends on the number of players.
- The game ends after the last hidden Resource card is revealed, and all other players (except the one who revealed the last hidden Resource card) take one final turn.
- If all the players agree they do not have any useful actions to take, they may end the game.
It’s time to determine each player’s final score when the game ends. This is done by revealing all the player’s collected Resource cards (including the ones they were dealt face-down) which are then organized into sets. All requirements and how to score are detailed in the rule book and summarized on each Resource card, making it easy to remember how to score and organize. You might want some paper and a pencil to help with the math.
- For each Planet card the player has claimed, they earn four points
- Calculating the number and type of “Crystal” Resource cards
- Counting the number of “EnerGel” Resource cards
- Determining the number of “Organic” Resource cards
- Determining the number of “Water” Resource cards
- Counting the total number of found “Famous Finds”
After all the players have determined their total score, the player with the most points wins the game!
There are two variants to the game. They are summarized here.
- Trading: Trading is a possible additional rule to the game that allows players to swap cards when it’s not their turn.
- Solo: This is a special subset of rules that allow the player to explore the galaxy independently, competing with an opponent driven by random card draws.
To learn more about Jump Gate (Fourth Edition), visit the publisher’s website.
The Child Geeks enjoyed the journey through space in their private Spaceship. According to one Child Geek, “The game is really easy to understand and hard to play. I liked exploring the planets and getting the right number of cards to score big. It’s a lot harder than it looks, but I could fly my ship after a few turns without help from Dad.” Another Child Geek said, “My favorite part was going from planet to planet to find the special jewels I thought were pretty. I also liked it when we played with the trade rules. That let me get the cards I wanted without visiting some planets.” When the last Spaceship returned to the station, the Child Geeks disembarked, and all agreed that Jump Gate was a game they would return to as soon as possible.
The Parent Geeks found great joy in the game, which they believed was easy to learn and a real challenge to play. As one Parent Geek put it, “Exploring the universe is easy. Winning at conquering the universe is anything but. The game has a great mix of exploration and collection gathering that I haven’t found in other games that play this light and fast. I enjoyed myself.” Another Parent Geek said, “Felt a bit abstract at times, like I was just going to a card, picking up some cards, and leaving others, but even that was entertaining. I don’t know if I cared for the space theme, but I did feel like the game was out of this world.” Oh, how clever. After the Parent Geeks hung up their space helmets, they took a vote and decided that Jump Gate had the right stuff.
The Gamer Geeks found the game to be intriguing but not overly satisfying. One Gamer Geek states, “This game is where you move from spot to spot to collect cards to create sets. Even with a space theme, it just never got my attention. I liked many of the game’s ideas, but it didn’t thrill me. I’d play it again as a filler.” Another Gamer Geek said, “Light and easy to learn, the game continues to challenge and entertain, but I think it needs more. I mean, where is the danger? I’m in space exploring alien worlds, and the only thing I risk is nothing. The game isn’t about risk, though, and I think it works well enough with the theme. I just wanted it to be much more than what was provided. Trading, however, makes the game a lot more fun. ” When all the resources were collected, the Gamer Geeks felt that Jump Gate fell short but was still worth the trip.
My biggest concern when introducing this game to new players is seeing them run away from the table when I attempt to simplify how they score points at the end of the game. I have created homemade “How to Score” cards to pass around the table so players can make intelligent decisions when collecting Resources and to help in the math-heavy calculation of points. Although you only have to play the game a few times to see how points are scored just by reading the Resource cards. Just something to consider when playing the game with new players and not a negative whatsoever.
Jump Gate continues to be improved through each edition. Refinement of rules, crisper gameplay, and easier component management are all here. Having played every edition since the second, I can see that the designer not only takes into account the feedback received from players but continues to love exploring new ways to make the game more engaging and entertaining. The result is a game that continues to impress. The Gamer Geeks were not overly infatuated, but neither is Jump Gate trying to woe them. This game focuses on the fun at the table and empowers the player to do a lot with very little overhead. Great stuff and a wonderful game for the family and casual players.
Do play Jump Gate (Fourth Edition) when time and opportunity permits! You will find this space exploration game worth your time and money.
This game was given to Father Geek as a review copy. Father Geek was not paid, bribed, wined, dined, or threatened in vain hopes of influencing this review. Such is the statuesque and legendary integrity of Father Geek.