Jet Set was one of the games that was generously given to us during Gen Con. We sat down with the designer to discuss the game and have it explained to us. I don’t know where my mind was that day, but I was a bit confused when we wandered away from his booth. The game sounded rather complicated. I was confused by all of the rules regarding pricing. And while the board and pieces looked nice enough, the box really turned me off.
Jet Set is a game where players operate airlines attempting to offer flights to their patrons. Each flight is worth a certain number of victory points at the end of the game. Flights are claimed by placing planes either on routes that you or your opponent owns. Planes are very expensive and must be placed sparingly, as money is very hard to gain in this game.
Although I had some trouble understanding how some of the money elements worked when they were being described to me by the designer, when I read the rulebook (which was thankfully very short), they made perfect sense. My hat goes off to them for making clear and concise rules, which is not always the case. The rules were also very thorough. There was never an instant of ambiguity where we had to make judgment calls about what the designer meant. Hurray for clarity!
Now, with all fairness, I must say that I do have a bias toward this kind of game. I really like resource management games, and thus this game might be getting an edge for that reason. But, I have found resource management games that I can’t stand (Carcassonne, and Caylus to name a few). That being said there were several elements to Jet Set that I really enjoyed: turn speed, lack of ‘luck’, near absolute knowledge, and closeness of score.
Turns are incredibly quick, which I love. There is nothing worse than sitting waiting for your turn for fifteen minutes. You should not be able to play another game while waiting for a turn in your current game! Jet Set does this very nicely by allowing only one action to be performed on a turn. Even turns that required lots of thinking only took a couple of minutes tops. This kept the game moving, making it lots more fun.
Luck is at a bare minimum in this game. There is some mild luck in what routes are available at any given time, but players even have the potential to get more of those on the table and improve their odds, should they wish to spend a little dough to do it. There is no dice rolling in Jet Set and thus no whining later that the dice were not in your favor. In this game you make your own luck through thoughtful planning and money management.
When it was nearing the end of the game, I noticed something that I loved. The game has near perfect knowledge. Players play with their victory points revealed on the table. Thus I was able to do a quick count of everyones’ points and thus make more informed decisions. I say near perfect, rather than perfect because there is one tiny piece of knowledge that you do not have: what the other players ‘Final Flight’ card is. Everyone’s final flight is worth the same number of points, no surprises there. What that route is and how close they are to completing it is a bit of a mystery. Once someone completes their final flight, the end of game sequence begins. This near perfect knowledge was very important in deciding when to play down that final flight card and begin the end of game. Are you behind in points, and thus wait to try to get more? Or do you initiate it in hopes that your opponents wont be able to get theirs down in a timely manner?
In the end, our game was razors edge close, which left everyone with a good deal of satisfaction. I ended up winning that game, but only by a single point. One of my opponents, Sho, came in just one point behind me and was capable of playing her final flight card immediately after mine. My husband wasn’t so lucky. He had up to five turns to try and scoop as many points as he could while getting his final flight in place. If he had been particularly crafty, it was feasible that he could have snapped up the win. The game is not a race to the final flight, but rather this elegant dance to get the most points.
In short, I loved this game. I’m actually itching to play it again already, which is a very good sign. As I said very early on, I wasn’t impressed with the box. I would pass this game up in a store without much of a second thought, but the game play is phenomenal and I will certainly be recommending it to others in the future.
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