Disclaimer: the manufacturer provided a sample to Meeple Mountain, but had no editorial input into this review.
Fee-Fi-Fo-Fum! We all know the story. But what if before the giant chased Jack down the beanstalk, he told his friends of the Giant’s riches? Jack’s Friends is a one vs. many card game which tells this story.
Jack has spread the word of the Giant’s fantastical treasures. Now, his friends have gathered, building a village with the hopes of overpowering the Giant. At the same time, Jack’s friends are making visits to the clouds to collect resources from the Giant’s estate. But he is on to them and in pursuit!
Jack’s Friends is a family-friendly simultaneous card selection game for 2 to 6 players from Piggy Bank Games and designer Matt Greenleaf. This one vs. many experience pits the Giant against Jack’s friends in a game of cat and mouse. With fun, colorful artwork from Lisa Riedl, Jack’s Friends is quick to play (about 15 minutes) and even faster to teach.
In Jack’s Friends, each player has a hand of matching cards reflecting the four spaces in the center of the board. On each of the game’s ten turns, all players simultaneously select a card from their hand deciding where their character will go. If ever the giant chooses a location that matches that of any of the other players, those players will be “caught” and must forfeit their next turn unless they can return resources to the board.
If, however, a character is not captured they pillage the giant’s stores. If in the garden – they steal a vegetable, in the kitchen – some steak, or the henhouse – a golden egg. If they safely visit the village they can, through the payment of golden eggs, build additional homes.
If the friends can deplete two stores within the game’s ten rounds, they will claim victory. Alternatively, if they are able to build up a large enough village, they can overtake the giant and win. The giant wins by capturing a certain number of Jack’s friends throughout the game, number dependent on player count, or if the friends are unable to pull off a victory in the game’s ten rounds.
What I Like About Jack’s Friends
This game is quick to play and incredibly easy to teach. It has art which is playful and colorful. I love that the game has a diverse cast of characters including characters of color and a near even split of male and female friends. It is a family-friendly party game which offers some interesting choices but stays light and fun. I also should point out that the game has quality components and has a good look on the table.
What I Dislike About Jack’s Friends
The game is fun and engaging. This, however, meant that it was easy to forget to flip the round marker. This leads to what I think was the game’s most prominent downfall. Although it often came down to the final-round, in all the games I played the giant never pulled out a win. In those final-round moments, though it was still possible to for the giant to win, the odds were solidly against her. Every friend would have had to select the same location as the giant for the giant to come out victorious. The game is quick so losing never hurts too badly, but after a few games people did not want to play the giant, and eventually, the interest wore off in the group because we felt we already knew the outcome before the start of every game.
The game is entertaining. When I pulled it out with newer, more casual gamers it was a hit. Jack’s Friends is simple to learn, light-hearted, and super quick. I found it to be a fantastic game to play at the start of a game night as you await all the players to arrive. In that context, I played it multiple times with 3, 4, or 5 players but it certainly shines at its higher player counts. Because it is so quick to play and easy to teach it is easy to bring new players in with each game.
It’s incredibly uncommon, at least in my experience, to see a light one vs. many game; especially a quick card game like this one. I do have concerns with balance since our giants kept losing but it may have been a string of bad luck. I plan to keep it in my collection for those times I need a simple filler game. I expect I will only play it, moving forward, at its higher player counts (4-6) as these seem to produce the closest matches. If you too are looking for a unique, light party filler, check out Jack’s Friends; the first game from the indie publisher Piggy Bank Games.