The game of “Newfoundland Jam” is a simple concept to understand for those who are unfamiliar to the game and, really, have no idea what it’s about. It’s a card game for 2-4 players but is easily played with either 2 or 4 respectively. For one, the setup is easy however for some it may take a little time to get used to the overall playing style of the game.
First of all, the essentials needed to play the game are incredibly easy to understand and plot out for those around you to enjoy the game in a fun environment. For example, I brought the game into a situation with other teenagers (like myself) and all of the comments were positive and about how simple the accessibility of the game was. However, even with the recommended 4 player limit, it gave off the effect that it would easily be played with possibly 5 or 6 people at a time.
To win the game, you need to collect 11 jam points – which are earned by using the ingredient cards from your hand (or even the pantry and ingredient deck) and using said cards to complete recipes of either jam or versions of ‘canned moose’ from the recipe book. There are also other features incorporated the game to stir up trouble in the kitchen. These being the “Jam Burglar” cards and the “Blowin’ a Gale” cards. Each have different effects on the game which range from completely changing the pantry (which includes 4 ingredient cards and 4 recipe cards neatly in rows) to stealing something from the discard pile (which comes into play when the players exchange cards from the pantry to their hand or discard anything from anywhere in the game).
Newfoundland Jam: The Pros
Simply looking at the box, fresh out of the bag my mum had stored it in, I knew I was in for something special. What had captivated me instantly was the art style and how well-polished everything looked. The use of colour and structure on all the sides of the box was incredibly eye-catching, and the illustrations are absolutely gorgeous to see. With previews of what the main game looks like on the back cover, in the form of sampling the design of the cards, is incredibly helpful when in stores one, traditionally, cannot rip open a box and see what’s inside as that is otherwise known as stealing.
Now, onto the inside of the box. Once opened, a stylised illustration of a lighthouse above snowy cliffs is located on the inside cover directly across from an image of the man himself, the Jam Burglar. All across the inside of the card holding part of the box are motifs of jam, which really assist in the feeling of it being a game just dedicated to the frenzy of the jam itself.
Newfoundland Jam: The Cons
The rulebook is simple and easy to follow, as it’s quite easy to understand. However, the main thing that perplexed me about the main setup of the game itself was the idea of ‘phases’. These so-called game phases aren’t addressed in the actual rulebook, however, on the Jam Burglar cards they specifically say they can only be played during Phase 2. Another part of the game that is determined by Phases is completing a recipe. Apparently, you can only complete them in Phase 3- according to the ‘Completing a Recipe’ page in the rulebook. What is Phase 1, 2, 3 and more and when do they start- do they start when all players have had their turn a certain amount of times, or something else? Or is it just me getting confused and assuming that phases weren’t the steps of a person’s turn (I found this out halfway during the script of this review), so clearing that up would be more helpful. Stating ‘steps of one’s turn’ rather than ‘phases’ or even ‘turn phases’ would be a good way to go in the realm of new players understanding the game.
Another thing I found mildly displeased by in the general mechanics of the game was the second option of ‘getting jammed up’ which was b) Kitchen party!. It seemed as if this mechanic would specifically work better if there was more than 2 players, and since my experience of playing this mechanic with only myself and another individual, it was incredibly taxing due to the fact that my opponent would only be able to take a singular card each turn, and I was jammed up with 13 cards and no hope of making any recipes anytime soon. What may be a future investment would possibly be adding a third option to the getting jammed up category, something more helpful to those playing with two or three players- perhaps a different option to simply spring cleaning.