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I think the first thing that most people say when they are first approached with jungle speed is "eh?" This was exactly what my response was when I first came across this game about a year and a half ago now.
Initially what I was presented with was a red draw string bag out of which a totem pole about 4 inches tall, it is made of wood and you are told that you are going to be grabbing for it. Then out of the bag comes a pack of cards, but this is not ordinary pack of cards, oh no, this is jungle speed cards. Jungle speed cards are square and all have different patterns that are very slightly different, your job is to match these up. At this point you are still just scratching your head so everyone just says lets have a practise game as that's the easiest way to explain.
Playing the game:
Everyone who is playing sits in a circle, I have played with as little as 2 and as many as I think 8 players so it is quite versatile in that sense. All the cards are then evenly distributed and your aim is to get rid of all your cards. So the person who is designated to start turns over their top card, you then work your way round the circle with each person putting a card down in front of them, I should add at this point that the totem pole is in the middle of the circle. What you have to keep an eye out for is someone with a card that EXACTLY matches your card, when you see this you pounce for the totem. The person who grabs the totem gives the person who had the matching card all of their face up cards (so all the cards they have laid down in front of them). The aim is to do this until someone has lost all of their cards and they are declared the winner, you can then work your way down until there are only two people left but the people going out first tend to get bored but equally the same person always wins (at least with us) so maybe you could just play for podium spots.
The game is not as simple as that though as there are other special cards that can be thrown into the mix and which make the game a whole lots more complicated but also a whole lot more fun. A few examples of these are: The colour card - when this is revealed you stop trying to match exact patterns and instead are trying to match colours only, this only stays in play until a match has been made or it is covered by the next card of the person who played it. The all play card - With this you count to three and then all draw a card at the same time, this is great fun but also tends to have 4 or 5 people grabbing the totem at once and leads to a "I grabbed it first".... "No, I grabbed it first" situation. There are several others but I think you probably get the idea.
Is it fun?
Well I guess the answer is yes, the only reason for my lack of enthusiasm is because I suck at them game and I hate losing. It is great fun and we like to bring it out with family, one thing that has yet to happen though it for my partner to be beaten. In every other situation I have faster reaction speed and I even play badminton at a club level and have been told I am freakishly fast but when this comes out I don't stand a chance and I lose every time. It is still a great laugh and I am sure that we would play it more frequently if the result was predetermined by my partners greatness at this.
Jungle speed certainly isn't a household name in cards games like some that you could probably think of and I remember playing this at a party a few years back and remembered that I did really enjoy it. I managed to find this game again on Amazon quite recently and bought it for about £14 and it was still as good and addicitve as I remember it.
Essentially if you know the game of snap which of course is the well known, very simple card game that everyone can play, then this is sort of like a more complex version of that. Again, like most card games the idea is to get rid of your cards first, but it is how you do it that's the fun part.
There are 80 cards in total in the pack and each of them has different shapes on them and four different colours too. These colours are orange, yellow, purple and green. As each players gets their turn they have to turn over the top card in the deck. If there is a match, the player who has that match in their hand tries to grab a wooden totem pole in the middle of the table. If you are the quickest and first to grab this 5 inch wooden scultpure then you win and the loser has to add all the cards that have been turned over to his or her hand. The same thing applies if you go for the totem by mistake as punishment.
What is clever about this game apart from the speed and great fun you can have, is that unlike snap the pictures are a bit more complex so you have to concentrate harder to work out if there is a match in your hand or not.
To add an extra twist to the game, as in popular card games such as Uno, there are a number of wild cards in the pack. One of these wild cards will change the direction of a game by altering whether you are matching on shapes or colours. Then there are the wild cards that mean you all have to turn over your top card, resulting normally in a duel and fight for the totem.
Personally I love this game as it's a new variation on the simple game of snap and the fact that you have to reach for something makes it more interactive then just shouting snap. Kids should find it more interesting and addictive too. It is suggested for 3 to 6 players and the more the better in my opinion. Great card game for the whole family.
first encountered Jungle Speed when an almighty deluge during a camping weekend in the Ardennes forced us all to take cover in the cafeteria. I found it an incredibly easy game to learn and immense fun to play. Subsequently, we bought it ourselves and our elder children have also really taken to it.
==== WHAT EXACTLY IS JUNGLE SPEED? ====
Basically, Jungle Speed is a sophisticated form of the card game snap, although the aim is to get rid of your cards rather than win everyone else's. There are 80 cards, with 7 basic shape types, each of which is in one of 4 colours (orange, yellow, purple, green). The turn moves round the table, each player turning over the top card. If there is a match, the players whose cards match, try to grab a 5 inch wooden 'totem' in the middle of the table. The first one to grab the totem wins the 'duel', the one whose hand is lowest on the totem being the winner. The loser then has to add all the cards that have been turned over to the bottom of his pile. This penalty also applies to anyone who starts to reach for the totem when there is no match, which happens a lot more often than you would imagine at first.
There are a number of things which set this apart from a normal game of snap. First, the designs on the cards are quite complex, so that there may appear initially to be a match, but on closer inspection the shapes turn out to be subtly different. This is complicated by the shapes being different colours.
Then there are a number of wild cards. One of the change what you are matching, ie you go from matching shapes to matching colours, or vice versa. Other wild cards require all players to turn over their top card, which invariably ends in a duel. A third requires all try to grab the totem as quickly as they can, the winner placing his cards under the totem.
==== WHAT IS IT LIKE TO PLAY? ====
The game is great fun. Initially, we found that most people mistakenly reached for the totem one time or another. It doesn't take long however for people to realise that there are subtle variations between similar looking cards. It is much easier when you are matching colours rather than shapes, but at all times it was great fun. Games varied in time from about 10 minutes to over half an hour, depending how competitive/ruthless people are.
With younger children, the game works well, although we tended to apply a small handicap system by putting the totem nearer the younger ones.
One word of caution is that it is possible that people get carried away, and I was thumped on the jaw by my 9-year old niece once, so beware flying arms and elbows as people grab for the totem.
==== WOULD I RECOMMEND IT? ====
I would definitely recommend this game for light-hearted, fast-moving fun after Christmas lunch or on a camping trip. You can currently get it for £13 from amazon.co.uk. Just ignore all the rubbish on the company webiste about the name and animals and jungles. It is just a clever and enjoyable variation on snap
==== TECHNICAL INFO ====
Manufacturer - Gibsons Games
Manufacturer's recommended age - 7 and up
Number of players - 3 to 6 (although we have played with 8)
Average game time - 20 minutes
Cost - currently £12.98 from amazon.co.uk