As a lifelong Disney junkie, it has been one of the great joys in my life that Disney has started looking to the parks for inspiration for movies and such. I remember finding a soundtrack CD of the music from the rides almost twenty years ago, and thinking it was one of the most amazing things ever. Over the years, Disney has learned to agree with me, and now I can buy the bag, watch the movie, and play the game, all from the comfort of my own home. With the movie Jungle Cruise delayed until 2021, I will have to content myself with re-watching home movies, and playing the game from Ravensburger.
You have been hired as the Skipper on board one of four boats to navigate the Jungle. You are in a race down the river to deliver both passengers and cargo to company Headquarters. You will make several stops along the way to pick up cargo, and potentially lose passengers, being as careful as you can to keep hold of the family members that have been named as caretakers of the company by owner Alberta Falls, currently on sabbatical. The game is recommended for ages 8 and up but would be easily playable by younger kids if their attention span is good. My four year old loved the theme and set up, but quickly lost interest in the actual game play. It is for two to four players, though far more fun with a full crew. The game can take 45 minutes to an hour to play, or longer if you interject family stories from trips aboard the ride!
80 Navigation Cards
6 Skipper Specialty Cards
4 Warning Flare Tokens
48 Passenger Tokens
30 Lost and Found Tokens
12 Outpost Tokens
5 Tip Tokens
4 Clue Tokens
3 Peril Dice
1 Speed Dice
4 Boat Pieces
4 Boat Placards
In a game with 48 Passengers it is worth noting that 24 are men and 24 are women, with a wide variety of ethnicities represented. Also the “roles” are equally spaced out, with adventurers and scientists of all gender and colors. Well played Disney.
After savoring the removal of all the tokens from their cardboard casing, you separate the various components of the game. Boats go on the starting dock, one Clue token goes on each Clue space with the fourth on HQ along with the tip tokens. Outpost tokens should be separated by Cargo type, and one of each Cargo should be placed face down at each Outpost. Navigation cards are shuffled and placed face down to the side of the board, though each player gets a boat everyone will be “sharing the deck”!
Each player receives a boat placard to go with their boat token on the board, along with the twelve passenger tokens bearing the name of their boat. Passengers are placed face up on the boat, arranged in any order you choose. There are four sections of the boat, each with three spaces. Each space holds one passenger or cargo token. Every player also gets one warning flare and one Skipper Specialty card, which are placed face up next to their boat. It is advised to start playing by assigning specialty cards at random, then in future games let each skipper make a selection starting with the youngest player.
The player who most recently told a joke gets to take the first turn.
At the start of your turn you may choose to rearrange the passengers on your boat. This doesn’t come into play on the first turn, but as you start to lose passengers and cargo you may want to re-arrange for a better chance of survival. Due to the type of Navigation cards you will see, the center of the boat is the safest place to be. On each turn you will roll the speed die and move forward the corresponding number of spaces. There are forks in the route, where you may choose to get to HQ faster but which miss out on clues and outposts. If your route takes you to an Outpost or Clue space you must stop, and forfeit the rest of the spaces on your roll.If you land on an empty space, and have an opening on your boat, you may pick up a lost and found taken. If you land on an Outpost space you take an Outpost token. If you land on a Clue space you may look at the clue and then return it face down.
Whenever you roll for speed you reveal four Navigation cards. Of these four your boat will encounter as many cards as you rolled for speed. So if you got there on a roll of one, you get to pick which of the four cards to encounter, and which three to avoid. If you rolled a four, you have to face all four. Any cards not being encountered go on the discard pile. If you have been stopped by an Outpost or Clue space, you only encounter the number of cards equal to the number of spaces you moved, regardless of the dice roll. Each Navigation card has a danger rating, and affects a different section of the boat. A higher danger rating increases your chances of losing cargo or passengers. You may encounter the cards in any order you wish, rolling peril dice equal to the danger rating. So a danger rating of two means you roll two peril dice. Some of the encounters aren’t dangerous at all, and so there are no dice to roll, literally and figuratively! For each (!) you roll you lose either a passenger or cargo from the section of the boat specified. If the hippos attack your Stern, you will not lose anything from Port side. There are two ways to avoid losses. If there’s no one in that section, there’s nothing more to lose so nothing happens. But you may also choose to use a warning flare to protect a section, this allows you to re roll the peril dice. Your warning flare will be out of use until you reach an outpost, at which point it is “reloaded” and can be used on a subsequent turn. Discarded cargo is removed from the game, overboard passengers are placed next to the board where they will wander around the jungle hoping to be found later in the game. Once your Navigation cards have been encountered, they go into the discard and it is time for the next Skipper to move ahead.
When Special Navigation cards are revealed they must be encountered before any other cards. Carry out the action and then discard the card. If on your turn, you encounter multiple Special Navigation cards, you may choose the order in which you encounter them, but all must be encountered before you can move on to other encounters.
There are two types special places on the Jungle Cruise, Outposts and Clues.
Outposts: On your way to HQ there is a chance to stop at four Outposts. Upon landing at an outpost you must first encounter Navigation cards, then you can reload your warning flare, and finally if you have an empty space on your boat you may choose an additional action by taking a Cargo token or picking up one of your lost passengers.
Clues: When protecting your passengers, it is important to understand that some have more value, after all, it’s a jungle out there. The company owner, Alberta Falls, has selected a family to act as caretaker while she takes a sabbatical. The more members of that family you can successfully transport to HQ, the greater your reward will be. Each clue token will show you a family that has not been chosen. So you can have them swab the deck instead. If you keep an eye on the other Skippers, you may be able to deduce who is on the clue token, without needing to look at it yourself.
Once you arrive at headquarters you will be tipped generously, or not so generously, by your passengers. On your next turn, instead of moving on, you take another tip token, and you continue to take tip tokens on your turn until there are none left. When there are none left the game ends immediately. Any boats who did not make it, are moved directly to headquarters and do not get to play any of the spaces that they were about to potentially land on. Do not pass Go. Once everyone is there, flip over the token to see who the caretakers are and then add up your points.
You will have realized on your journey through the jungle that there have been many opportunities for scoring points.
At the end of the day, the player with the most points wins, and in the case of a tie, the player with the most points and the most remaining passengers wins.
There’s a really simple answer to this question, yes. The game is exceptionally fun to play, easy to master, and continues to be engaging over multiple playthroughs. If you are a fan of board games, then the mechanics of this one will be delightful. The artwork and construction of the pieces is excellent. If you are a fan of Disney or the name sake ride, then you will enjoy the mechanics, the theme, and the opportunity to partake in the humor of the original ride. For me and my kids, this checked off several of our must have boxes, it was well put together, holds up to a two player game, is both fun and funny, and the time passes by pleasantly not laboriously when playing with an 8 year old with attention problems! This is a thoroughly delightful addition to any board game library, and has me yearning for the ride once more.
GeekMom received a copy of this game for review purposes, only some of the puns were provided.
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