Saturday, September 1, 2012

Review -- JAMMERUP

JammerUp is an interesting game for a couple of reasons. 
To start with it is a perfect information abstract strategy game based on a sport that isn't soccer or football. There have been some forays into creating abstract strategy games which mimic football, Gridiron Master arguably the best of that bunch, and Chessyball, an unknown, unpublished soccer game which works well, but sport games tend to rely on a lot of luck factors (dice usually) when shrunk down to a game board.
JammerUp manages to make the transition rather well for roller derby.
The game is designed by Nikki Hammond. That's another interesting aspect. Female game designers working on abstract strategy games is a pretty small fraternity, so hats off to her for this effort, her first game as far as I can tell.
There are rules to add dice and some cards to randomize the game a bit for those who like more luck involved.
Component wise, I can't comment, since I have a prototype designed to be functional for play-testing, but unlikely to be what the game will ultimately be like. That said the board is functional, and once it's production quality it will be fine.
The pieces here are glass beads and functional, although following the game on its website there are actually roller derby miniatures available which will add to the Wow! factor if ultimately included, or even if just available as a way to 'upgrade' the game later.
The rule set is pretty easy follow, and is supported by a couple of short online videos viewable at the game's website. Having the videos is a huge asset to the game and one almost every new game should have. Most of us learn more easily watching a game played than by just reading the rules.
The game is pretty straight forward, and follows the rules of roller derby pretty well too. 
Players each have a Jammer piece and must maneuver it through a group of eight blockers (four for each player) and then around the circular gaming track, to score.
The tactics are in holding the opponent's Jammer back, while freeing your own. You need to be the first Jammer out on the track because once you clear the pack you can lap the track rather quickly.
In that respect it's a bit of tense positioning in the pack, and then bang, you are out and generally free to score. It plays quickly in that respect.
This is a game which captures the spirit of roller derby (you can knock a player out-of-bounds), plays quickly, and lets skill win out. To me that makes it a winner and a game you should enjoying playing.
Check the game out at
If anyone is interested in this game, or other boardgames feel free to contact
-- Review appeared in Yorkton This Week newspaper April 4, 2012 - Yorkton, SK. Canada

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