Jump Ship! from Gamewright Games is the second of the Cardventures series, in which players choose their paths through an exciting story. Following the alien escapades in Stow Away 52, Cardventures takes players on a new ride as the captain of the Black Bounty. The premise of the pirate story is that the captain is looking to retire, but not before one last adventure looting other ships in Bedlam Bay.
Much like the classic Choose Your Own Adventure storybooks of the ‘80s and later click-through computer games, Cardventures gives a little scenario on each card, which leads to a series of decisions. Players choose which decision they wish to make, draw the correlating card, and keep the story going as they fight fiends and grab treasure. Cardventures proves to be the best of both worlds, not requiring a computer while still offering the wider variety among its 50-odd cards than from the books.
Players begin aboard the Black Bounty, drawing from the black deck for a random card to start the game. From this card, players may venture aboard another ship with their own associating decks, such as the lucrative Salty Sapphire, the bigger, rarer payouts on the Briny Turtle, and the dangerous Crimson Cannonball, packed with rival crewmembers. Even the open water of the Deep End deck has adventure, with hidden treasure chests and perilous sea monsters. While the cards allow the story to unfold, they also feature treasure points, allowing players to rack up a score as they play.
Each round of Jump Ship! lasts as long as the players are able to continue the story without being driven to shore. Special treasure-map cards give incentive with big payouts of points, but only if the players bail out and retire to Mermaid Beach to count their gold. More adventurous players may choose to go on, risking losing treasure to scallywags and sea-dogs who might catch your captain off-guard. When the game does end, a points-counter shows how well players did by dubbing them with a rank from “Deck Swap” to “Pirate-in-Chief.”
With its random storytelling and points-incentive, replayability in Jump Ship! is strong. It also serves as a very flexible game, ready for solo-play or as a cooperative game with a group like a class or family on game night. Players may discuss and come to a consensus on which option to choose, or may take turns, each one making a decision before passing the baton to the next player for the next card.
Jump Ship! is a storytelling game for one or more players aged eight and up. Games are very quick, lasting typically 10 to 20 minutes as players work their way through the various treasure ships. Some games might catch players up quickly with an unlucky choice to end in under 10 minutes, and games with a host of players debating which choice is best could last for a good deal longer. Each game of Jump Ship! is as unpredictable as the card set, and players will be eager to go on another adventure just as they finish the one they are on.