Cardventures: Stowaway 52 and Jump Ship!
Stowaway 52 and Jump Ship! inaugurate the new Cardventures series from GameWright. Do these solitaire, choose-your-own-adventure story games live up to their promise?
In Stowaway 52, you have stowed away on an alien spaceship. You’re trying to escape, but first will you spy on the aliens to discover their plans for earth, or sabotage their spaceship on your way out?
In Jump Ship! you are a pirate captain. Do you defend your own ship from rivals, or raid their ships for booty? If your nemesis confronts you, will you face them head-on, or jump overboard into shark-infested waters?
Both games start by picking a random card from the card deck. Read the story snippet, then choose one of two options presented at the bottom of the card. Your choice leads you to another card to continue the story. Your Cardventure ends when your choice leads you to a card that you’ve already picked.
Jump Ship! adds a few other mechanics: some treasure cards have dolphins, which means that they can be discarded when you “fall overboard” to call a helpful dolphin to take you back to your ship. Some cards also give you a choice of “The Deep End”, which is a small deck of non-numbered cards. Instead of continuing on with a specified card, you pull a one at random out of this deck; some give treasure and put you back in the game with a specified card number from another deck, but some end the game immediately (Shark!)
Gameplay is deceptively simple, but as you get further in to the story, I found myself wondering: what is the better choice here, truly? Should I pick what I would really do, or do I think the other choice will give me a better outcome? Most importantly: have I seen this choice before – will I risk picking a card I’ve already played?
In Stowaway 52, win by using the whole deck of cards without running into a dead-end. A perfect score is 300, but if you don’t use all the cards, you can calculate your score and find which alternate story ending to read.
In Jump Ship!, win by accumulating 30 or more pieces of treasure before the game ends. Or you can play against a friend to see who can amass the biggest pile!
Cardventures are a fun way to pass the time, choosing different paths like the choose-your-own-adventure books that have been popular for decades. Jump Ship! gives options to play with 2 or more players, and being able to sacrifice some treasure to “get back on the ship” and keep playing is a nice touch. Stowaway 52 felt more like a puzzle – how to find the right path to choose every card exactly once, and it didn’t draw me in quite as much.
At $11 or less, either of these games would be a great choice for a pre-teen to get them away from the screens and reading an interactive story, or an adult who would enjoy puzzling out how to “solve” the story by choosing every card. The oversized cards result in a box that is roughly the size of a stack of 3×5 cards, so this does make a great stocking-stuffer. Buy them both on Amazon, or ask at your friendly local game store.
The Family Gamers received complimentary copies of Stowaway 52 and Jump Ship! for review.
Play Time: 5-15 minutes
Age Range: 8+