Jamaica Board Game – Review with Strategy Suggestions

April 24, 2009 at 2:45 am 1 comment

Author: Todd Cutrona

Jamaica is a board game for 2-6 players in which each player takes on the role of a pirate as you race around the island of Jamaica.  Aye said Pirates, you scurvy dog!

This game is just plain fun.  Does it have elements of luck?  Absolutely!  Is it a family game?  Yes, but this is not Monopoly…this is FUN!


There are fantastic graphics throughout the game.  The board and cards are great to look at and the player ships are very sturdy.  This is the type of game that attracts onlookers.  The rulebook is designed to look like a treasure map…theme is just dripping from the game.


In the game each player controls a pirate ship and attempts to race around the board, find treasure, win battles and in the end, win the game.


The game ends when one player reaches the finish line. Points are earned based on where you finish on the board, plus treasure cards and gold coins (1 point per).  Add it all up and determine the winner!


Each player has their own stack of player cards.  On each card are two symbols representing the actions that can be taken with that card (see picture below). At any given time each player has three cards in their hands. Action choices are to move forward, backward, get food, take gunpowder, or take gold coins (points).


The starting player roles two dice and then places them on the board in their desired order. Then each player in chooses a card to play that round, all cards are revealed simultaneously.  Actions are based on the dice results.  In the above picture if I chose to play the top card and a 6 & 3 were rolled, then I would move my ship forward 6 places and I would take 3 food into my hull.


If you land on a space with another ship then you must battle!  There is a special battle die that shows consecutive even numbers on 5 of its sides (2-10) and a star on the 6th side.  Before the die is rolled the attacker decides if he/she will add and gunpowder tokens to the result (+1 per token) and then rolls the die.  A roll of a star is an automatic victory.  The defender then adds their gunpowder and rolls.  High score wins and the victor gets to take the items held in their opponents hold or take/give a treasure card.  The treasure cards are acquired at various points on the board and can give bonus points, special powers or curse the player (negative points).


Each ship has 5 hulls to carry items and once you place items into a hull you cannot add to it or relocate it.  Don’t worry the board forces you to spend this loot almost as quickly as you acquire it.   Spaces on the board require a payment of either food or gold when you move your ship on the space.  If you can’t pay the fee then you are forced to move backwards until you find a space that you can afford.


1. Get treasure cards, they are extremely important.

2. Use the movement cost to your advantage.  Move past what you want and if you don’t have enough food/gold, move backwards to land on the space you really wanted (like a treasure card spot).  So, don’t horde too much food.

3. Save your double move forward card till the end of the game and zoom ahead of everyone.

4. You don’t have to win the race to win the game.  Collect gold and treasure cards.

5. Remember that the game has a bluffing element.  I played one game where I got a high bonus treasure card early, but I acted in such a way that everyone thought it was cursed.  So, even though I lost battles, no one stole my treasure card.


With its simple rules and fun pirate theme it should appeal to most families.  Personally I like playing it with 4 or more people as it feels more interesting (more battles).  The game does have some luck, but the card selection allows for moderate control. Great artwork, simple rules, pirates and playable in less than an hour…buy the game you land-lover!

Buy your own copy of Jamaica. There is also a link to a video about the game here.

Here is another of our blog posts about Jamaica.


Entry filed under: Board Game Reviews, Board Game Strategies. Tags: , , , , , , , .

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