Jumble Jam is one of those food games that I saw, thought was cute, and didn’t read much into the rules. There are pastries, cats, and very cute graphics to draw the player in — which worked for me — but it turns out to be a very cutthroat experience with players fighting each while you eachlook to be grandma’s favorite.
Each player is a sibling, trying to work at their grandma’s bakery. Impressing grandma comes in the form of earning money and not over-serving customers pastries, which is easier said than done. Once everyone has picked a color of jam jar, there are a bunch of pastries (mixed with cat cards) which are placed in the middle area of the table. These are the baked goods that you will be trying to bid in order to fulfil orders.
Orders are along the side of the baked goods so that everyone can see the price of each order, the items on each order and what needs to be provided. A die is rolled which showcases bonuses to the level, like giving extra money for cookies sold in orders or putting grandma in the bakery, which means all orders need to be exact before going out.
You see, this exact idea is something that continues throughout the game. Cards have different numbers of baked goods on them and orders have a specific number of each good that needs to be presented. Getting an exact order gives you a bonus coin and keeps grandma especially happy, as well as stops waste from happening. You cannot split up the number of pastries on a single card, so you’ll need to make sure your numbers add up for your recipes if you want to be the most efficient.
There are some interesting cards in the pastries mix like a cat that allows you to randomly steal a card from another player and jam jars which can be used in place of any other baked good on the board, making them a more powerful card. But, actually getting the cards you want is quite the challenge.
When you are placing out the bakery goods, you place them in a way that allows a grid path between cards. Going clockwise from the first player, you each place one of your four jam jars down in between two cards. These are the cards you want and other players cannot be on the same path side as you. Other players, however, can try to claim your card by being placed on other sides. At the end of placement of the four jam jars, you must move across the grid, determining who won what card. Card winners are picked by the number of jam jars touching the sides of the card, with the majority getting the card. If there is no majority, then the card moves down to the bottom and stays in play until it is finally bit upon.
This means that people can really mess other players up if they keep track of orders or just really attack what another player is going for. Soon, you’ll have people just matching other players so that no one gets the cards or otherwise targeting cards and using a bunch of their tokens to actually get the one they want. At first, we thought this was only intense because we were playing with the max player count, but as the game scales, it seems to just be cutthroat in the way that you collect pastries.
Once the parties have been distributed, you’ll race to finish orders. You can finish as many orders as you want in the orders round, but the turns go clockwise until everyone is unable to do anything else and is ready to go back to getting different baked goods.
As I got the Kickstarter version of the game, there were a bunch of additional wooden tokens. I couldn’t remember why these were included, but they were really lovely to have! This is my main complaint, I do wish that the special, Kickstarter exclusive rule to do with these tokens was included in a special section of the rule book, as each player can pick a type of pastry to add to the inventory, to use in place of a card to fulfil an order throughout the game. If it’s your first time playing and you don’t bother to check the Kickstarter page for Jumble Jam, you might forget this and just be confused for the duration of the game.
The biggest, massive plus to Jumble Jam was actually the box that the game came in. There is an insert that can be used throughout the game to organise the cards and pieces, as well as have a defined discard pile, which is a really great way to stay organised and play the game. This cute tabletop game will destroy friendships, but it stays organised while it does so! Despite being frustrated that someone had used their jams to completely block me from using cards, I really did enjoy my time with Jumble Jam and would play it again.
You can purchase Jumble Jam through the developer’s website.