Bruno Cathala &
Malcom Braff &
Sebastian Pauchon

GameWorks 2008

No. of Players:
2 - 6




In February 1678 the infamous Pirate Henry Morgan was appointed Governorship on the Caribbean Island of Jamaica, ending his career as a pirate and giving other pirates shelter to enjoy the "fruits of their work". Years later, the Pirates are doing a race around the island to commemorate the rememberable year of 1678.

In the game Jamaica the players' take up the roles of some of the most dangerous Pirates in history who want to participate in this race. As starting preparation, each player receives an identical set of 11 action cards and a ship-mat representing the 5 holds of each player's ship. Two of the holds are filled - one with three units of gold and the other with three units of food. Each player shuffles his own action cards and draws three of these cards as a starting hand.

The gameboard shows the Island of Jamaica, and the players' ships are placed at the sea area in front of the capital town Port Royal. The sea around the island is subdivided into spaces, and several smaller islands are grouped around Jamaica as well so that alternative courses may be chosen either through the channel between Jamaica and an island or around the smaller island (longer way!). Distributed equally along the racetrack, the players find several smaller harbours and also nine Pirate outposts on each of which a treasure token is placed.


The game then starts with the starting player rolling two dice and placing these two dice within the so-called Navigation-box. Here the order in which the dice are placed into the box is important, since the dice in the first place will be used by all players for their morning action, whereas the result of the second dice is used for their afternoon action. After the dice have been thrown, each player has a look at his hand of cards and chooses which card he wants to play during this round. Each card has two action symbols, depicting either a loading action for gold, food or gunpowder or a movement action which points either forwards or backwards.

After all players have chosen a card, the players in turn reveal which card they have chosen and then perform the first action with the result of the morning dice in the Navigation-box, and then the second action with the result of the afternoon action. A loading action means that the player loads a number of goods corresponding to the type shown on his card into one of the holds of his ship, whereas a movement action sends the player's ship forwards or backwards by the result of the corresponding dice.


When a ship is moved, it may land either on an open sea space, a harbour or a Pirate outpost. A Pirate outpost means that the player may take the treasure token from this outpost (if it is still available), whereas a harbour demands the player to pay an amount of gold for landing there. Finally, ending movement in an open sea space does not incur a cost of gold, but instead the player has to spend an amount of food which is depicted on the space. If a player cannot pay the costs given on his final space, he has to pay all he can and then has to move his ship backwards until he reaches the first space for which he can pay the full price. In the worst case, this may result in moving backwards several spaces, until a Pirate outpost is reached at which the player may land for free.

The taking of a treasure token means that the player receives a Treasure card. Some of the cards show treasures which will count for additional victory points at the end of the game, whereas others may show cursed treasures which lead to the deduction of Victory points. However, there are also four special artifacts included: an additional hold for the player's ship, a Map which allows its owner to hold an additional card, a cannon which adds to the player's dice roll in battle, and a Sabre which forces a player to re-roll his battle dice.

Battle ensues whenever a player lands with his ship on a space which is already occupied by another ship. The player who arrives at this spaces becomes the Attacker, whereas the player who has arrived first becomes the Defender. First the Attacker choses how many gunpowder tokens he wants to spend for battle, and then rolls the battle dice and adds his gunpowder tokens to get the final result of his battle strength. Afterwards, the Defender follows the same procedure, choosing a number of gunpowder tokens and then rolling the battle dice. The player with the higher result is declared winner of the sea battle, and he may chose to steal from his opponent either the contents of one of his holds or a Treasure card.

The game ends when the first player has finished the track around the island, and after the round has ended each player adds up his final score. The final amount of victory points is made up by a player's gold, his positive and negative Treasure cards and his final position in the race (the spaces have values ranking from 15 points (Port Royal) to -5). The player with most victory points has won.

After the rather successful cooperation with GAMEWORKS for the release of Animalia the Swiss insurance company "Assura" has decided to sponsor yet another boardgame. So Bruno Cathala, Malcom Braff and Sebastian Pauchon were set to the task and came up with Jamaica, a fast-paced and cute looking Pirate game. As a matter of fact, quite a lot of love has been invested in the creation of every little detail of the game, so that not only the colorful illustrations bring a good atmosphere, but also other cute details like a set of rules which is shaped as a treasure map or the whole gamebox being shaped as a treasure chest certainly adds to the general good impression.

The game itself offers a quite untypical gameplay for a game with a pirate background. Thus, the theme would not usually be expected to be used in connection with a racing game. However, due to the special artifacts, the possibility of battle and the nice action-mechanism based on the Navigation-box the general background theme is reflected rather well. Of even more interest for the gamer will be the fact that the gameplay is not arbitrary and luck-dependant like other typical racing games, but instead the equality of each players' deck of cards provides for a quite good balance. Strategic aspects come in through the holds and the different kinds of cargo which can be loaded, and all these aspects taken together provide for a rather nice, entertaining excursion to the Caribbean. And not to forget: multi-languange rules are included!

Looking for this game? Visit Funagain Games!

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Copyright © 2008 Frank Schulte-Kulkmann, Essen, Germany