Wednesday, 20 November 2019

Jaws: the boardgame

So last week I posted about the boardgame Pendragon and how ridiculously complicated it is (or at least it seems that way after a very limited attempt at playing it)

By total contrast, this week we played Eric the Shed's  copy of Jaws: the boardgame.  This really couldn't be more different... the rulebook stretches to a whole 12 pages (including illustrations), there are a handful of wooden counters including a couple of cute little boats for your meeples to sit on, and the whole game is designed to be played in about 1 hour.

Jaws made a big impression on me when I was young, not least because my sister and I watched it the day before we went on a family holiday to Florida.  When we got there one of the 1st things we saw at the beach were warnings about shark attacks and we confined ourselves to the motel pool for the rest of the holiday!!

The game is designed for up to 4 players...3 take the part of the key characters from the film Brody, Quint and Hooper and of course player number 4 gets to be the shark.  The game is played in 2 Acts: the first one takes place around Amity Island with the shark attempting to avoid detection while gobbling up swimmers at the various beaches.  The characters have to try and clear the beeches while locating Bruce and tagging him with 2 barrels

The map with Hooper and Quint in their little boats

We actually played the game twice in one evening so I had a chance to play both sides.  Trying to locate the shark is very frustrating: just when you think you've tracked him down he pops up on the other side of the island and snatches a swimmer or 2!  The humans have some tricks to help them...they have a shark detector, barrels which will show if the shark is in the same zone and Chief Brody can temporarily close beaches to swimmers, but it's a hard job pinning it down.

Playing as the shark is great fun, especially when your human opponents are looking in all the wrong places.  The shark also has a few one-off tricks including a feeding frenzy card which allows you to snatch all the swimmers on a beach in one go!

Hooper in his little boat
Once this phase of the game is over we move to Act 2.  The number of swimmers eaten in Act 1 determines how many bonus cards each side get in this phase.   This part of the game moves to the end of the film and the attack on Quint's boat the Orca.  The boat is made up of tiles which are flipped when the shark damages them and then removed when it has completely wrecked that section.  The shark player has a limited choice of where to pop up so the crew have to try and second guess where he will target and focus their attacks there.  If the humans did well in Act 1 they will have more weapons and tools, while if the shark was successful he will have more powerful attacks

Each crew member gets a range of equipment

The Orca before the shark attacks...

...and after a section has been bitten out of it!
The shark in the photo above isn't from the game... he is a much more dramatic model than the little wooden shark meeple that comes in the box!

I have to say this was one of the best games I have played this year...really simple yet challenging and most of all really great fun.  I've quickly bought a copy as a xmas pressie for a friend.  If you get a chance to play it grab it with both, erm, fins...


  1. That looks awesome. Is it fixed at four players?

    1. It's designed for 2-4 players: if you had 3 players one could manage all the humans easily. We played with 3 people.

  2. Never heard of these. They look like great fun.

    1. Really great game which just came out this year.