How To Play: Jamaïca – Setup, rule summary and strategy

Mastering Jamaica requires a keen understanding of its core elements. From smart resource management and strategic combat timing to nuanced race positioning, each aspect plays a critical role in sailing toward victory. Dive deep into these strategies and you'll soon navigate your way to the top.

Ahoy there! Ever found yourself in the midst of a pirate adventure, surrounded by treasure, sea battles, and a race to be the richest pirate of them all? Well, that’s Jamaica for you! This board game is not just about luck; it’s about strategy, quick thinking, and making the right moves at the right time. Below, I’ve outlined the game rules and shared some top strategies to help you win. So grab your compass, set sail, and let’s embark on this treasure-filled journey.


What’s in the box

  • 1 game board
  • 6 pirate ships
  • 9 pirate tokens
  • 3 dice (2 white, 1 black)
  • 80 gold coins
  • 45 food barrels
  • 45 powder barrels
  • 50 treasure cards
  • 12 action cards per player (a total of 72 for 6 players)
  • 1 compass and rule summary card
  • 1 scoreboard

How To Play Jamaïca: Rules Summary


  1. Lay out the game board in the center of the table.
  2. Each player picks a ship and places it at the starting line in Port Royal.
  3. Distribute the gold, food, and gunpowder tokens to their respective supplies.
  4. Shuffle the treasure cards and place them face down near the board.
  5. Each player draws three action cards for their starting hand.


  1. The youngest player starts as the captain and rolls the two dice.
  2. Players choose one of their action cards to play that matches the symbols on the dice.
  3. Move your ship forward or backward according to the action card and collect or pay resources based on the spaces you land on or pass.
  4. Combat occurs when landing on a space occupied by another ship, with the winner stealing resources.
  5. After all players have taken their turn, the captaincy moves to the next player clockwise.


  1. The game ends when a player’s ship reaches the last space around the island or when the treasure cards run out.
  2. Players then count their gold, with bonuses for treasure cards and penalties for insufficient food and gunpowder.
  3. The player with the most gold wins.

Special Rules & Conditions

  1. If you can’t pay food or gunpowder when required, you must move back to a space where you can afford the cost.
  2. Treasure cards offer various benefits but can also include cursed items that subtract from your final gold count.
  3. Some action cards allow special movements or actions that can change the course of the game.

This summary provides a quick overview to help anyone understand and start playing Jamaïca. Remember, mastering the game will require strategy, a bit of luck, and sometimes, a good laugh at the whims of the sea!

Best Jamaïca Strategies

The Winning Edge: Mastering Resource Management in Jamaica

Managing your resources wisely separates the pirates from the deckhands in Jamaica. It’s not just about what you loot; it’s about how you use it.

Strategize Your Food and Gold

  1. Always plan your moves to ensure you have enough food to navigate through the most resource-intense spaces.
  2. Use gold strategically for powerful moves and to win tie-breakers in battles.

Timing Your Gunpowder

  1. Save your gunpowder for battles you can win and for defending key positions.
  2. Don’t waste gunpowder on skirmishes that don’t advance your position.

Efficient Use of Treasure Cards

  1. Play treasure cards at the moment they’ll have the most impact, like using them to get out of a tight spot or to clinch the lead.
  2. Remember, holding onto cards too long can clog your hand, preventing new opportunities.

Mastering Combat in Jamaica: Timing and Targets

Winning battles in Jamaica massively swings the tide in your favor. Here’s how to nail your combat strategy:

Choosing Your Battles Wisely

  1. Attack when you have a clear advantage in gunpowder.
  2. Consider the cargo of your opponents; target those loaded with treasure.
  3. Avoid unnecessary fights early in the game to conserve resources.

Picking the Right Moment

  1. Strike after your opponents have spent resources moving or fighting others.
  2. Use combat to disrupt opponents’ plans, especially if they’re leading.

Maximizing Combat Cards

  1. Save your powerful combat cards for key battles.
  2. Bluff with low cards when you think an opponent might retreat.
  3. Remember, timing is everything. Play your cards when they’ll have the most impact.

The Winning Edge: Mastering Race Positioning and Movement in Jamaica

To clinch victory in Jamaica, savvy race positioning and strategic movement are key. Here’s how you can outmaneuver your opponents:

Strategize Your Starts

  1. Launch from the pack. Starting strong positions you for resource grabs.
  2. Anticipate opponent moves. Predict and counter their early game strategies.

Maintain Momentum

  1. Use the wind. Choose lanes with favorable winds for speed boosts.
  2. Conserve resources for critical moves. Don’t waste gold and food on unnecessary actions.

Optimize Endgame Positioning

  1. Pick your battles wisely. Engage in combat when it advances your position or hinders rivals.
  2. Seize opportunity spaces. Aim for spots that give you strategic advantages, like powerful upgrades or blocking opponent paths.

Crossing the Finish Line: Mastering Jamaica

And there you have it, folks, the treasure chest of advice, tips, and tricks to become the most feared pirate of the high seas in Jamaica. Remember, success in this game isn’t just about speed; it’s about smart resource management, knowing when to pick a fight (and when to sail away!), and positioning your ship to take full advantage of the winds of fortune. Gather your crew, set sail, and may the best pirate win. With this guide, you’re now ready to chart your course to victory. Until next time, keep those cannons ready and the treasure close!

Want to know what we think of Jamaïca? Read our detailed review of Jamaïca here

Jamie in his proper element: With all of his board games
Jamie Hopkins

With years of dice-rolling, card-flipping, and strategic planning under my belt, I've transformed my passion into expertise. I thrive on dissecting the mechanics and social dynamics of board games, sharing insights from countless game nights with friends. I dive deep into gameplay mechanics, while emphasizing the social joys of gaming. While I appreciate themes and visuals, it's the strategy and camaraderie that truly capture my heart.