One of the board game series that I’ve been most excited about is the video game series announced by IDW Games a couple years ago. Their first release was Centipede, a two-player head-to-head battle where one player got to play as the centipede! A year later they followed up with Missile Command and expanded it to allow for up to four players to enjoy at the same time. Each of these titles remained true to the original game theme, but took some creative liberties for the conversion to analog format.
This year IDW Games introduced Joust, another one of my childhood favorites. That game stole so many of my quarters! I never could master the finesse needed to hover my bird and wait for an enemy to run into it at a lower height. I considered myself pretty good at most arcade games, but for some reason this one was beyond my capabilities. With this new offline version, I now had another chance at becoming a master!
If you’re not familiar with the game of Joust, you’re a knight riding a flying ostrich (totally believable, right?!). You’re trying to knock off (joust) the other players and flying enemies from their birds and collect any eggs that drop. All while avoiding being knocked off yourself! Unlike the previous two arcade-themed games, this version of Joust remains almost perfectly true to the digital version, right down to Pterodactyl you’ll have to steer clear of!
Joust is best described as a programming game, since you’ll be deciding how to move your knight without knowing where the other players are moving theirs or how the enemies will randomly move. Each player begins the game with a personal player board, five knight control cards, foot and wing tracking tokens, a knight token, three life tokens and eight flap tokens in a matching color. You’ll begin the game with three of the flap tokens – the rest are set aside into a personal pool.
The included board is set in the middle of the play area and is pre-populated with enemies and the players’ knight tokens according to the rulebook’s diagram. A game of Joust is played over a series of rounds, each broken up into eleven different parts. The first thing you’ll do at the start of each round is move the wave tracker, which shows what types of enemies will spawn at the end of the round.
Next, all players will select one control card to play (kept secret) along with a number of flap tokens (also kept secret). These are revealed simultaneously and determine the how your knight’s momentum is affected. On your personal player board is a plus-shaped score track that keeps count of your direction of movement and the rate in which you’re moving in that direction. Adjust your tracking tokens for the card you played and the number of flap tokens. Cards are always returned to your hand, but flap tokens are spent and put in your pool. If you play zero tokens, your bird rests and you earn back three flap tokens!
All players now move their knights according to their current momentum and in order of momentum from highest to lowest. Collisions are inevitable and will result in your knight changing directions and losing momentum. Colliding with another knight or an enemy forces a joust with the higher person winning and earning a point. Moving over an egg also earns a point (eggs are dropped by defeated enemies).
Once everyone has completed their moves, all knights lose two wing momentum due to the effects of gravity, unless they are standing on a platform – then it has no effect. New enemies now spawn and are resolved by the roll of custom-colored dice. These dictate where on the board they’ll begin and will vary in type based upon the wave of the game. And of course, all enemies get to move – also by the roll of dice. The three colored dice are rolled and placed on the enemy movement boards. These have a key which will tell you how each particular type of enemy will move this wave. And if you’ve reached wave 5, one of these enemies will be the “unkillable” pterodactyl!
Any eggs that remain on the board at this time hatch into hatchlings and hatchlings grow into new enemies! Any knights that perished during this wave are brought back to life (with one less life token). If there is only one player with any life tokens left, the game of Joust ends immediately with that person being declared the winner! If not, scores are checked to see if anyone has collected 25 or more, and if so, that person wins! If neither condition is met, another wave is played in the exact same manner as the last one – except with more difficult enemies!
If you’ve ever played the original game of Joust, you’ll quickly realize this board game version is nearly identical! The only exceptions are the use of movement cards instead of a left/right joystick, flap tokens to replace the flapping button and eggs that don’t fall all the way down to the lowest level (they only move down one level per wave). I don’t see how IDW could have made Joust any more authentic!
If you were a fan of Joust, you must have this analog version in your collection. Pick up a copy on Amazon or at your favorite local game store for under $20. Visit IDW Games’ website to find out about a couple new titles they’re currently taking preorders on or head over to their Facebook and Twitter timelines to find out what they have coming out next!
What classic video game do you wish someone would make into a board game?