How to Play
The game begins with each player selecting one of the character sheets. Each character has a special ability that will help the player throughout the game. If the character’s special ability conflicts with one of the other rules mentioned here, the special ability overrules the other rule. The player then takes a pawn and marker of the same color. The pawn is placed at the start line (one end of the table) and the marker is placed on the character sheet in order to indicate whether the player is playing as a hero, neutral or villain (the differences between each are explained below).
The fiendish plot cards are separated from the other cards and both piles are shuffled. Each player receives a number of cards equal to their hand size which is six unless their character has a special ability that alters it.
The object of the game is to be the first player to cross the finish line. The finish line is the eighth road card in a two player game, tenth road card in a three player game, and the twelfth in a four player game.
Sequence of Play
Each turn has two phases. First the player either plays cards or rests. The player is allowed to play as many cards as they want during their turn. If the player rests they may draw two cards and remove one mishap card that was played against them. The player cannot play any cards except for special cards (see below). After a player has either played their cards or rested, they get to draw two cards unless their special ability allows them to draw more. Players are not allowed to go over their hand size so a player will have to discard cards if they have more cards than their hand size allows.
How to Play Cards
In order to play a road card, the racer has to currently be in the furthest along road section. The player then plays the road section and the necessary discard penalty in order to place the road. The player moves their pawn to the new road section. If the player can’t pay the discard penalty they are unable to play the road card. For a player to proceed to a road section in front of them they must play a driving card as well as the required discard penalty.
Besides road cards, there are several other types of cards that can be played which are as follows:
- Terrain (T): Terrain cards are played on road sections which add additional rules to that road section. Only one terrain card can be played on each road section.
- Driving (D): A driving card is used in order to proceed to the next road section and may be needed for sub-plots and fiendish plots.
- Personality (P): Personality cards are used for the requirements on sub and fiendish plots.
- Equipment (E): Equipment cards are used for the requirements for mishaps, sub-plots and fiendish plots.
- Mishaps (M): Mishaps are played against other players in order to slow them down. Multiple mishaps can be played against the same player. Mishaps stay in place until the player that it is played against meets the requirements to remove it.
- Sub-Plots (S): Sub-Plots are played against other players in order to slow them down. Only one sub-plot can be played against a player at a time so you are unable to play a sub-plot against a player that already has a sub-plot card played against them. The cards that are required to complete a sub-plot need to be played in the order that they are shown on the card.
- Fiendish Plot (F): Gathered by villains based on their villainous actions. Only one fiendish plot card can be played each turn during the play phase. The player who plays the card follows what is printed on the card.
- Special Cards (blank diamonds): Can be played at any time even when it is not your turn. Take the action that is written on the card.
Heroes, Neutrals and Villains
At the beginning of the game each player needs to determine whether they are going to be a hero, neutral or villain. Their advantages and disadvantages are as follows:
- Heroes play cards to help other players complete mishaps, sub-plots, and fiendish plots. Every card played to help another player allows the hero to draw one card from the deck and place it in their karma pile. These cards do not count against a player’s hand size.
- If a hero completes a sub-plot, neither the hero or the player that the sub-plot was played against are able to play a “Valuable Experience” card.
- Heroes cannot play mishap cards against other players. Mishap cards can be used for discards though.
- Villains try to play mishap cards against the other players. For each mishap card played against another player, a villain gets to take one card from the fiendish plot deck and put it in their karma pile. The karma pile does not count against a player’s hand size.
- Neutral racers can use any card to fill requirements for sub-plots played against them.
- Neutral racers are not able to ever use valuable experience cards. Neutrals can only use valuable experience cards for discard requirements.
When I saw Jaunty Jalopies on a store shelf I had some high expectations for the game. How could a game featuring a 1920’s car race featuring cheesy heroes and villains not be good. Unfortunately Jaunty Jalopies never lives up to its’ potential.
My biggest disappointment with the game is that it didn’t go far enough with the theme. The gameplay itself is nothing special so the game really needed to rely on its’ theme in order to make the game special. Unfortunately it feels like the theme was just tacked on at times.
The game actually does a good job with the character cards since each character has a small back story on their character card. The back stories are not particularly long or original but they bring some charm to the game. People who really like to roleplay may really enjoy creating their own story and expanding on the character they chose while playing the game. The character’s special abilities are actually a nice touch as well. The game tries to connect the characters’ stories to their special abilities. Some are more successful than others. Although I think some of the special abilities are more powerful than others, they do affect the game just enough that they will impact how each player tries to play the game.
Outside the character cards, the theme is mostly an after thought. With a 1920’s racing theme which includes villain characters, I thought the game was going to go the wacky cartoony route. Unfortunately it is toned down for the most part. The game could have gone with really wacky sub-plots and mishaps but instead chose to have subplots like being arrested and helping out a woman whose car was stolen. The game could have used some wacky cartoony plot twists. I am usually not a big fan of flavor text but this game could have used more. The game was trying to create an atmosphere but it fails to fully implement it. Jaunty Jalopies settles into a pretty generic card game with a racing theme tacked on.
Jaunty Jalopies has some issues with the rules not always being that clear. The rule sheet tends to repeat itself a lot and glosses over some areas that could have used some more explanation. Some of the cards have the same issues. My group had to discuss some of the cards in order to agree on how the card was supposed to work. I believe some more explanation on the cards could have resolved most of these issues and left less things up to interpretation. The cards also should have used symbols to indicate what cards needed to be played to resolve sub-plots instead of using words in all caps inside the flavor text. You get used to finding the requirements you need to meet but it would have been easier to just use symbols.
Some of the cards in Jaunty Jalopies are kind of rigged. There are some cards that will take you all of the way from the back to the front no matter how far behind you are. There are also cards that will take you from the front all the way back to the start line. These cards are way too powerful and have too much impact on the final outcome of the game.
Another issue with the game is the hero/villain/neutral mechanic. I thought the ability to play as a hero, villain, or neutral character was an interesting idea and could have added quite a bit to the game. If the mechanic had worked the game could have had quite a bit of replay value. Unfortunately the mechanic doesn’t really work
Based on the game I played, the heroes haven’t the greatest disadvantage. In order to use their advantage players need to help other players. For any benefit you get from the bonus card, you end up helping another player so I don’t think the heroes advantage is that great. I would make the argument that no one should play as a hero in the game because they are at a disadvantage in my opinion.
Meanwhile the villains don’t get to use their advantage that much either. At least in the game that I played, I as the only villain only got two or three mishap cards in the entire game so the villains special ability didn’t really affect the game. If you end up getting a lot of mishap cards I could see the villains advantage having a bigger impact on the game.
While no one played as a neutral character in the game I played, I think their special ability is by far the best. I say that because their ability does not depend on any other player or lucky card draws. Their ability makes it easy to get through sub-plots played against them so they will likely always be towards the front of the pack. Due to most likely always being in the front, not being able to use the valuable experience cards is not that big of a disadvantage. I personally would recommend always playing as a neutral character. Unfortunately playing as a neutral character seems to be pretty boring and takes even more away from the theme.
The quality of the components were disappointing. The card stock is pretty thin and thus the cards could get bent very easily. Overall the artwork is not bad. I like the old black and white pictures on the cards that try to depict 1920’s racing. Unfortunately I think the cards could have went farther with the theme. I wish the pictures were more like you would expect from an old cheesy movie. There was also some issues determining between the “D” and “P” on some of the cards. The character cards are pretty good. Each card has some flavor text about the characters, details the character’s special ability, and gives a rules summary at the bottom of the card. The other contents are pretty much what you would expect.
Most of the problems with the game come down to the game not being that fleshed out. Some of that is to be expected due to the game being made by a small publisher. The rules should have been tightened. The rigged cards should have been thought out better. More details should have been added to strengthen the theme. While the game doesn’t do anything terribly, it really doesn’t excel at anything either. The game tries to do some unique things but for the most part they fail to add anything to the game.
Jaunty Jalopies is far from a broken game. It is perfectly playable. The game is just kind of boring. The game had potential to be much better than it is. While playing the game you see what the game could have been and end up disappointed that the game never reached its’ potential.
Jaunty Jalopies is a tale of what could have been. I thought Jaunty Jalopies could have been a good game if it focused on its’ theme more. Instead the game dials down the theme and instead relies on its’ gameplay which is nothing special. Jaunty Jalopies is not broken and it is perfectly playable. Unfortunately there are better card games out there and the theme doesn’t make up for that fact. If you find the game for cheap or you are really into roleplaying and like the theme, you might enjoy Jaunty Jalopies and it might be worth purchasing. Otherwise I would recommend passing on it.