Jump Drive: a 20-min card game of building an empire in space

Jump Drive by Tom Lehmann is a stand-alone card game set in the Race for the Galaxy universe. Players develop technologies and settle worlds in a race for victory points.

Contents Overview

There are 4 Survey Team cards with brown backs, 4 reference cards, and 112 general game cards.

For your first game, you can use a preset hand for each player (with A, B, C, or D in the corner) before shuffling the rest of the cards to create the draw pile.

In future games, all of the 112 game cards are shuffled together and 7 cards are dealt to each player. Each player chooses 5 and discards 2.

A Survey Team card is put face up in the middle of the table for each player, and the victory point chips and explore markers are placed within reach.

Each player may take a reference card.

Playing cards

Each player chooses cards from their hand or an explore marker, and waits with their cards face down until everyone is ready. Then, at the same time, everyone reveals their selection for that round.

There are two types of cards, developments (diamonds) and worlds (circles). If they are outlined in black, players must pay cards from their hand in order to build the card. The number inside the shape is the number of cards that must be paid.

You may build 1 development and 1 world on a turn. However, if you only build a world, you draw a card after paying for or conquering the card you chose.

If you only build a development, you get a discount of one card, so a 3 in a diamond requires 2 cards for payment. The Survey Team cards in the center of the table are a development with the cost of 1. If you select a Survey Team as your only card that turn, you may build it for free.

If the circle is outlined in red, it is a military world, and must be conquered. Military worlds must wait until you have built other cards with military icons.

Jump Drive has colorblind-friendly iconography. The colored worlds have moons in different positions for green, blue, brown, and yellow.

Some cards provide discounts to build other cards. Here, Galactic Advertisers shows -1 cost for Galactic Trendsetters.

Instead of choosing to play a card, players may play an explore marker to draw cards.

The number of cards drawn will increase as players have more explore icons in front of them, but the net gain is always two cards.

Scoring cards

Players score victory points for the cards they have played. Some cards have a set VP amount, and some are calculated based on other cards already on the table.

If no one has 50VP or more, the game continues. If someone has 50VP, the player with the most points wins.

Collecting income

Income is shown on the bottom of each card. Players draw cards to represent their income. Some cards have a set income amount, and some are dependent on other cards that have been played.

Players with more than 10 cards must discard down to the hand limit of 10, and then everyone selects cards or an explore token to begin the next round.

Comparing Jump Drive

Jump Drive is visually and thematically related to Race for the Galaxy, but streamlined and mechanically similar to The City. Both Jump Drive and The City have a 20-minute play time (the rules sheet for Jump Drive notes that games are typically 6 or 7 rounds long), and so there’s not a lot of time for meandering. Once a player sees a viable strategy, they’ll want to go for it, build on it, and race to 50 VPs.

While there is a military element to the game, it is only in terms of having enough power in a certain category to build cards. Players are not attacking other players, or comparing military strength like in 7 Wonders. Jump Drive is about playing the right cards to get to 50 VPs before anyone else.

Jump Drive is portable and easy to bring along to a game night or a café. It is quick to set up and play, and short enough that you may want to play twice in a row. If you’re looking to introduce someone (including yourself!) to Tom Lehmann’s games, give Jump Drive a try.

[Jump Drive on BGA]  [Jump Drive on BGP]

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Supporter11 months ago

Thanks for the review! I’ve always passed over this game but it looks great!

Supporter11 months ago

Thanks for reading!

Supporter11 months ago

Of course! 

Supporter11 months ago

I want to play this. Race For The Galaxy is one of my favorite games, but I haven't played this yet. 

Supporter11 months ago

Have you played Roll for the Galaxy?

Supporter11 months ago

Fraid not. 

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Jump Drive