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English language edition

List Price: $24.95
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Product Awards:  

Ages Play Time Players
12+ 40 minutes 2

Designer(s): Rudiger Dorn

Manufacturer(s): Kosmos, Rio Grande Games

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Product Description

"Jambo!" is the friendly greeting Swahili traders offered their customers in Central Africa before colonization. The players are traders in this day, competing to be the first to earn 60 gold by selling tea, hide, fruits, salt, silk, and trinkets. The game is played with cards which represent goods, people (which can help you or hinder your opponent), and animals (which add a bit of spice to the game). Players take turns with up to 5 actions per turn until one player reaches the goal and wins the game.

Product Awards

Games Magazine Awards
Best 2-Player Game, 2006
Spiel des Jahres
Nominee, 2005
International Gamers Awards
Best 2-Player Game Nominee, 2005
Deutscher Spiele Preis
8th place, 2005

Product Information

  • Designer(s): Rudiger Dorn

  • Manufacturer(s): Kosmos, Rio Grande Games

  • Year: 2004

  • Players: 2

  • Time: 40 minutes

  • Ages: 12 and up

  • Est. time to learn: 5-10 minutes

  • Weight: 428 grams

  • All-Time Sales Rank: #136

  • Customer Favorites Rank: #145

  • Language Requirements: Manufacturer's rules are printed in English. This is an international edition or domestic edition of an imported item.


  • 112 cards
  • 36 ware tiles
  • 52 gold chips
  • 5 action markers
  • 1 rule booklet
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Product Reviews


Average Rating: 4.6 in 8 reviews

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by Tom Hansen
Jumbo fun with Jambo game
July 16, 2013

I bought this game several years back, but somehow it never made it to the gaming table until recently. I wish I had known the JUMBO amount of fun I was missing in the meantime. My wife and I have played JAMBO 2-3 times a night for the last few weeks. It is pleasantly addicting.

Though some see the game controlled by luck of the draw, there is still enough strategy and thought required to make this game super appealing. Timing of the use of the utility cards, when to play an animal card, always saving a guard as protection from attack, etc. make for some strategic decisions along the way. After playing several times, I have noticed, too, that it is not always good to buy and sell on the same turn; setting up your selling of wares for a future turn (if you have enough market spaces) can make for a windfall on one turn and keep your opponent from having enough wares available in the store for their use. In short, there is a lot of depth to this game after you get used to playing it.

I highly recommend this as one of the Kosmos series' best. Buy it -- play it immediately! JAMBO IS A JUMBO!!!!!

A Great Game for Two (that your wife will enjoy too!)
April 12, 2006

Jambo is a definite keeper. Simple to learn, quick to play and good strategy with re-playability make this a winner! My wife likes games, but if the rules are complex or strategy is to deep, I might get ONE play of a game with her (which she usually wins, thus I rarely have the opportunity for revenge).

Jambo is one that SHE REQUESTS, and we have played it many times (averaging about once a week since I received it for Christmas). Game play is simple, your strategy changes according to what comes up, and it has a lot of re-playability. The complaint about the large stands being too small should be ignored - they are fine as is. If you have rules questions, go to BGG. You WILL find answers.

Other games my wife likes to play: Ticket to Ride, Cafe International, Clock Towers, and Odin's Ravens. For those of you who want to play games with your wife but can't find one she likes, try these - while they might not be Puerto Rico or Tigris-Euphrates, getting to play any of these is still very satisfying, and you get to play games! :-)

Best Two Player Game Out There!
December 02, 2005
Just purchased this game a few weeks ago and my wife and I play it almost every night. It's great because some nights she wins, some nights I win. There are so many interesting cards and you have to be very careful about how to use your cards, leading to lots of strategy. One card seems weak one game and then comes through in the next. Thus, no game is ever the same. We will be playing this game for years!
Jambo game, jumbo fun...and absolutely gorgeous
February 12, 2005

The Kosmos 2-player line has reached near legendary status. So many of the games in that line have proved to be winners that people just expect great games from it. But Jambo has even more going for it in my book, with an African theme, and rich, lush illustrations. Jambo also happens to be designed by one of my favorites, Rudiger Dorn, designer of Traders of Genoa, Goa, and Emerald. I’ve heard some people make the claim that Jambo provides a CCG- like experience, a claim that I can not dispute or confirm, not being a fan of CCGs myself, so allow me to review Jambo as I would any other “German” game…

Okay, I know I said that graphics are good, but did I mention just how good? One look at the box will have you interested: Africans walking thru a village, lush jungle in the distance, the sun setting like a ball of liquid fire – and the cards keep a good thing going: rich earthy browns, dark verdant greens, and bursts of tropical color. The graphics are just exquisite. The bulk of the contents is a heckuva lot of cards, but also included are 6 goods markers for each of the 6 goods types, 5 action markers, and a handful of gold tokens in denominations of 1 and 5.

Gameplay is very simple in general, but the multitude of text in the game mean the first time through, players will spend a lot of time reading. Still, as I said, gameplay in general is very simple. Players are first dealt 5 cards each, and are given their own large market (big enough to hold 6 goods) stand to have on the table in front of them. Players gets 5 actions per turn. First off, a player must decide if they want to draw a card into their hand. Cards are not that easy to get, and very useful, so most of the time, players will indeed start by drawing a card. If he likes the card, the player can keep it, and that uses one of his actions. If he does not like it, he can discard it and draw a new one, but this costs an additional action. A player can repeat the process as many times as he has action tokens.

Once a player has drawn a card and kept it, or chosen to skip the card-draw altogether, he gets to use the remaining actions to play cards, which come in several types:

Animal cards and People cards are one- time special action cards. The only difference between the two types is that Animal cards can be defended against if a player holds a Guard card, while People cards happen whether the other player likes it or not. It costs one action to use a card: simply read the text on the card and carry out the action. Cards include, Parrots, Dancers, Hyenas, Alligators, Guards, Portuguese traders, and more. Abilities include: protecting against animal attacks, destroying special items, stealing a good from the other player, etc. There are a wide variety of actions these cards provide and obviously using them wisely is a timing issue.

Special item cards are extended use cards. It costs one action to put them on the table in front of you, and one action to use it. The nice feature of these cards is that they stay in front of the player until he decides to get rid of it, or his opponent destroys it or steals it for himself. Players may have up to 3 special items in their play area at one time, and since these provide ongoing abilities, these are key to being able to do any amount of planning. Items include boats, thrones, drums, weigh-scales, and more. Abilities include being able to discard cards from your hand to draw new ones, being able to purchase a single good for 2 gold, etc. Again, these cards are key because they allow a player to employ short-term strategy.

Small market cards are permanent cards that act exactly like large market cards except that they only hold 3 items (instead of the 6). It takes one action to build a small market, and it also costs gold to build. The first player to build a small market must pay 6 gold, after that any additional markets cost 3 gold each. Small markets are a strategy. A player may want the increased flexibility that more market spaces provide, or they may be content to run a tighter hand management game and stick with only have the 6 spaces in their large market. Games can be won without extra small markets, but having more market space makes buying and selling a lot easier!

Ware cards. And these are the driving force of the game. Like every other card, a ware card costs one action to play. On the ware cards their will either be 3 goods or 6. A ware card with 6 goods has one of each good on it, while ware cards with 3 goods could have 3 of the same ware, 2 of one ware and 1 of another, or 3 different ware. What all ware cards have in common is a “buy” price in the bottom-left corner of the card, and a “sell” price on the bottom- right corner of the card. By playing this card, players can either pay the lower “buy” price to take the wares and place them on their market spaces, or they may (if they have the appropriate wares) discard the wares on the card from their market to obtain the higher “sell” price. Since the object of the game is to accumulate 60 gold, judicious use of these cards both by type and by timing is crucial to doing well.

Once players get the hang of the text on the cards, the game becomes quite interesting. There are such a wide variety of actions available from all the cards, and players must do the best they can with the cards they get. This generally means that players must have a flexible short term strategy in order to win. (after all, you can’t use a small market strategy to win if you can’t find a small market!) This is one feature of the game I really enjoy: the game almost forces you to try new things every time you play it. True, players do have the option of rejecting cards at the beginning of their turn, but this uses up valuable action that players could be using to exercise their cards, so at least some flexibility is a must.

Variety, flexibility -- those are the great parts of the game (oh, and the graphics – I did mention how good the graphics are, right?) But the game does have a bit of a dark side…I mean, uh, luck side. You see, the ware cards are the heart of the game; the majority of your income comes from careful management of your ware cards. But of course it’s much easier to manage your cards if you keep drawing complimentary cards. If I draw a ware card with 3 fruit wares on it, and I already hold a card in my hand with the 3 fruit wares on it, then I can use one card to buy 3 fruit, and with my next action to use the other card to sell those 3 same fruit. Net gain, 7 gold. But pity the poor fool who draws a card with 3 fruit, and hold cards with 3 cloth and 3 furs respectively. It’s not that the second player won’t be able to do anything with his cards, just that he’ll have a harder time making a profit. Now that I’ve said that, I should point out that there are a wide variety of ware cards in the game, so it is rare that players will get the same ware cards twice, but again, complimentary cards (say, a card with 3 fruit, and a card with 2 fruit and 1 fur) are a lot better to hold then opposing cards (say, a card with 3 cloth, and a card with 1 fruit and 1 fur and 1 sugar.)

Luck can also come in the form of luck of the draw. A player may be have a strategy and shape his hand towards getting something done, only to have it torn apart by his opponent’s animal cards. True, gaurds can prevent that, but I’ve had playings where I drew only one guard then entire game, so how can I defend against animals? And luck can also come in the form of timing. Let’s say in the last two turns I built my hand up to 7 cards. When my opponent takes his turn, if he can find the card that reduces my hand to 3 cards, good for him, if he can’t, good for me. And imagine if he does fund that “reduction” card, but I never have more than 3 or 4 cards in my hand the whole game! Pity the fool who has bad luck in the card draw.

But like most games, the luck in Jambo tends to even out. And when it does, you are left with an interesting game of hand management and ware management. After my first few playings, I found Jambo to be fairly chaotic, and only a good game. But with more plays under my belt, I’ve seen the ability to string together clever card combinations, and to make almost any draw of cards work in your favor, and this has given me new appreciation for this game. True, some playings may come down to turly horrible luck, but most of the time, games will even out. And, honestly, the process of trying to make money by clever card use is interesting and fun, and most of the time, I view bad luck as a chance to see to how well I can use what cards I do have to overcome a bad turn. With a well-implemented theme, and gorgeous graphics, Jambo is another smash hit in the Kosmos 2-player line.

Wife's favorite
November 24, 2006

I (a hard-core gamer) really like this game, but it is my wife's favorite for a two player game. Therefore, this is our most played game...and I'm not complaining. It takes a few times through a game to really find your stride, but a game that is more fun every time you play it is a real treat.

It is the clever use of the cards with special powers that rewards good strategy, but the random draw of these cards levels the playing field. Sometimes the game feels a bit too short, but usually it is just right, and pulling out a last turn hail Mary happens often enough to keep both players in the game until the very last card is played.

by A Gamer
Solid Game
September 04, 2006

Kosmos does it again!

Jambo is great 2 player game. Players buy and sell wares in an African setting. The object is to have the most money at the end of the game. When one player reaches 60 gold, the other player gets one more turn. The tie breaker is in favor of the player taking the last turn.

What is so great about this game?
Game swings back and forth
Card combinations are possible
Plays in about 1 hour
Simple mechanics

If you're looking for a 2 player game that's not too light and not too heavy, Jambo is for you.

Good Game
January 10, 2005

I was given this game for Christmas by my girlfriend who knows I am a huge fan of the Kosmos 2 player game line. So far, I have Jambo, Odin's Ravens, Heave Ho! and Hera and Zeus. I have liked all the games so far, and this is true of Jambo as well.

Jambo definitely has enough to stand apart though. For one, the people, animal and utility cards (which can be changed out as the game progresses) give this game a nice strategic element. Yes, you have to hope you draw good cards, but plans can be made with what you get quite easily. It is also nice that you're plans can be spoiled quite easily.

I also like that the rules are basic and learned fairly fast. Much of the game play specifics comes from the cards (a little like Magic). My only real complaint is that the main market stands could have at least been made the size of the box. They are too small. I understand why the small market stands have to be the smaller size, but this is a little bit of hindrance during game play. Besides that, I love this game after just two plays.

August 13, 2009

Just purchased this game. Quick, easy, and fun. My wife and I have thus far enjoyed each match. By way of background, we've also enjoy Puerto Rico, Agricola, Citadels, Lost Cities, and others. My son, age 11, has also played Jambo. In conclusion, this is a solid 2-player game for any collection. There's enough strategy and skill for experienced players, but not too complex so it could be a good intro game to newbie euro-gamers. Be advised: there is luck as cards are drawn, but, to me, this only emphasizes the importance of using what you have to the fullest. Enjoy!

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