JOME (official website) is a Malaysian design. It is a card game for 2 to 6 players. When I participated in the recent Game On Lah game event, they were in the shop right next to mine where I demoed Dancing Queen. I did not go out to try other games by other Malaysian designers. I stayed at my shop throughout the day. However my wife and children did manage to check JOME out when they came to visit, and they bought a copy to support the designer.
This is a pure card game.
The box is small and easy to carry around.
Rules are short and simple.
There are two types of cards in the game. The first row is trophy cards, and the second row battle cards. Trophy cards are worth points and you compete to gain as many points as possible. Battle cards are your ammunition to win trophy cards.
During game setup, you create as many groups of trophy cards as there are players. You draw trophy cards one by one until you have four groups of distinct icons. If you draw a card with the same icon as an existing group, you add it to the group instead of creating a new group. Every player starts with a hand of six battle cards.
On your turn you play a battle card and then refill you hand. The trophy cards specify which types of battle cards can be used. At the bottom left you can see that a yellow circle battle card and a red diamond battle card have been played. Both these shapes appear on the trophy card. You play your card next to the trophy card based on your seat position. E.g. the player sitting at the top left would play his card at the top left corner of the trophy card.
The yellow circle card has a value of x2. The trophy card value is 8. The battle strength of the player sitting at the top left is thus 2x 8 = 16. The red diamond card has a value of +2. The battle strength of the player who played this is 2+ 8 = 10. At the moment it is the player at the top left leading.
When you play card, you must either be first to compete for a trophy card, or you must become the leading player at a trophy group which is already being fought over. Once a trophy card has 3 or more battle cards played next to it, the reckoning is done and the trophy will be won by whoever has the highest strength. He claims the trophy card. A new trophy card is then drawn to replace it.
Black battle cards are wild cards. All of them have special powers. In the photo above, the Half card halves the strength value of all your opponents.
The Duos card lets you play an additional card. In this situation above, the player at the bottom right plays two cards on the same turn and wins the trophy. Once there are three cards played next to a trophy card, it is evaluated and claimed by the leading player.
The dice values on the cards have meaning. In the case of ties in strength, you follow a specific tiebreaking procedure to determine who is stronger. You compare the number of cards, then the card colour and shape, and finally the die value.
The game ends when the last trophy card is won. Whoever has the highest total trophy value wins the game. If you want a shorter game, you can agree to play to a certain point total. Whoever reaches the goal first wins.
JOME is easy to teach and you can start playing quickly. On the get go you can tell which trophies you are eligible to compete for. It depends on whether you have the right battle cards. Trophy cards have different values, and naturally the higher valued ones will be more sought after. It is often good to be first to play a battle card on a trophy card. You claim one of the three slots available. If you have a second card which can be played on the same trophy, chances are even if another player decides to compete with you, you can reclaim the lead with your second card and win the trophy. There is a risk in going first too. If an opponent or multiple opponents have much stronger cards and will beat you to it, you would have just wasted one valuable turn. Your turns and your cards are your resources. You want to be efficient in spending the least resources for the most gains.
One tedious part of the game is checking for valid battle cards. Battle cards come in 5 colours and 4 different shapes. There is a total of 12 different combinations. This means effectively you have a deck with 12 suits. I don’t quite understand why this is necessary. I think it complicates the game needlessly.
The game is highly tactical in nature. You can’t really plan strategically. Every turn you analyse the situation at hand and decide on the best play based on your hand cards. You don’t know what cards your opponents have and can only guess based on their actions which trophies they might go for.
Essentially JOME is a game of spending your resources (your battle cards) wisely. You want to be efficient, winning as many points as possible with what you are dealt. The rules are simple. This game can target the mass market. Non-gamers and casual gamers can pick it up easily. For gamers, this game does not introduce anything groundbreaking. It will be the kind of game used for spending time with non-gamers. It is also the kind of portable game you can bring on trips.
These are the wild cards. The rightmost Pow card lets you immediately win a trophy card. I’m not sure whether I have understood the ability correctly. If it works the way I interpret it, then the +10 and the 6-value die are not necessary. One more thing I think can be simplified is how strength ties are broken. The official rules require players to compare number of cards, colour, shape and die value. I would prefer to simply require the player playing a card to exceed the strength value of the current leading player. This way ties will not happen and all the tiebreaker rules can be removed.
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