This is a race game on the surface, but there is a whole lot bubbling underneath that makes it a fun, dynamic, competitive strategy game. You need to manage several different aspects at once: resource management of food, gunpowder, and doubloons in your limited hull; movement to the optimal board spaces for your current situation; stockpiling enough resources to get by but not so many that you waste them; using up precious gunpowder attacking or defending; and much more. Race as your favorite plundering pirate to discover invaluable treasures, steal from your competitors, feed your crew, pay for port services, attack other ships, and curse your competition!
Each round consists of that round’s captain rolling two dice and selecting which to play for the morning action and which to play for the evening action. Then each player, starting with the captain, chooses which of their action cards to play to either move or collect a resource (food, doubloons, or gunpowder) based on the face-up number on each die. This is a very fun aspect of the game and necessitates some moderate planning ahead to see if any of your action cards have a movement to get you a treasure card or a particular resource that is running low in your hull.
As you travel around the map, you must pay food to travel on the sea and doubloons to land at a port. You have to be careful, though, because if you move to a spot where you can’t afford to pay, you must pay all you can of that resource then move back until you land on a space where you can pay everything…and then you have to pay that, too. See if you can use this to your advantage to land on treasure spaces at a very cheap cost!
Another fun feature that I love about Jamaica is how a battle is forced every time two players land in the same spot. A star rolled on either side is an automatic win. Do you use six gunpowder tokens to really ramp up your attack so you can steal that player’s treasure card or food tokens just to get blown away by a single star roll? Or should you play conservatively relying on the luck of the die?
Overall, this is a very fun, pirate-themed game with incredible artwork and very high-quality pieces and boards. I give it a solid 8.
Disclaimer: I received this game for free in exchange for my review, but believe me, I post authentic reviews every time and will be brazenly blunt if needs be.