Saturday, December 15, 2012

Jab: Tasty Minstrel Games

I knew of Jab before going to Gen Con. However, what I wasn't aware of is whether or not I would ever get to play the game. My number one gaming partner is my beautiful bride, and let's face it, boxing isn't something girls usually dig....right?

ding ding ding ding!

"Standing in this corner our champion! Weighing in at 230 lbs and standing at 6'-3", Grey-long-nose-Elephant"!!!

"And in this corner our contender! Weighing in at ??? lbs. and standing 5'-6", Carmen-Fabulous-Hair-And-Pretty-Nails-Norris!!!"


The components are simple.

70 cards, 2 tile card that represent knock-outs or a bell, and 10 tokens that represent either health or round win tokens.

I would have to say that the cards are a wonderful thickness and I don't see these getting bent up or creased anytime soon.

The tokens are thick as well and will take plenty of abuse before you see wear on them.

The box stores everything nicely and is probably a little bigger than needed, but works fine for what it is.

Set up

You each get one boxer, 5 health markers, and 25 cards that represent your punches.

The health markers that are shown above flip over to represent when a round is won by a particular fighter. Win 3 rounds, you win the game.

Here are all the cards that you will have in your hand at one time.

Shuffle up your cards and place them into two piles. Because there are 25 cards, you will have 1 extra in a pile so don't worry about making them equal. In fact when this was being taught to me at Gen Con, he told me I could place extra cards in either pile if I wished. I'm not sure that's a good idea though and I will tell you why here in a bit.

After that's done, take all the Counter Punch Cards and place them in a single pile in the middle of the table. Then take the Combo Cards and place them in a single pile to the side where they are easily reached by both players.

Here are all the Counter Punch and Combo Cards available.

Here is what the table should look like before game play begins.

Game Play

Here's where it gets crazy-mad! If you don't think fast and pay attention, you will get clobbered and not even realize it. This might sound a bit confusing to explain, but it's actually very simple and light. What you are trying to do is one of two things, either score more "Judge Points" than your opponent or Knock him out!

Prelude to the fight

First thing to do is bump knuckles with your opponent and maybe throw in some trash talk for good measure. You know, to make them understand the fury that's about to be unleashed upon them. After that the game is on and here's where it's all fast and furious!

You will draw 1 card from your left deck with your left hand and 1 from you right deck with your right hand. You may never draw a card from your right deck with your left hand or vice-versa. Each deck represents the punches being thrown by that particular hand.


You may place a card on any part of your opponents head or body no matter which side of the body, hand you use, or punch you throw. You can throw as many punches as you like at any part of the body or head by just stacking them on top of one another. This, however will not win you the game and I will explain why.

Your punches come in colors and values of either 1 or 2. These values are what give you "Judge Points" at the end of the round. The colors are used for dealing damage by either throwing Haymakers, or Counter Punches. I will explain both of those in more detail.


You have a total of 5 Haymakers in your deck. There is 1 Haymaker for each of the 5 colors. To throw a Haymaker you simply place it either on the body or head of your opponent. This however, won't deal any damage. To actually deal the damage, you must follow up that Haymaker with a card of the same color. For instance let's say I placed a yellow Haymaker on my opponents left body. I then place a yellow Jab card on top of the Haymaker to deliver 2 damage. The value of the Jab isn't what's important. Either a 1 value or 2 value card will still deliver the same damage. Remember values are only used when determining Judge Points, never damage.

Once the damage is dealt, take two health markers from your opponent and place them into your health pile.

Counter Punches

The Counter Punches are located in the middle of the table. There are a total of 5 counter punches (1 of each color). The way you Counter Punch is by matching a color that already appears on your fighter to a color that appears on your opponents fighter. If those colors match the faced up Counter Punch card, you grab it and deliver 1 damage to your opponent. They can also count as an extra 2 "Judge Points" when counting up your score at the end of the round. You must not have any cards in your hands when delivering a Counter Punch. Here is an example of how a Counter Punch is performed.

Your opponent places a yellow jab on your head. You notice that the Counter Punch card in the middle of the table is yellow so you place your yellow hook on your opponents body and hurry up and place your other card on your opponents head. Scream "Counter Punch" and take a health marker from your opponents pile and place it into yours. Also you take the yellow Counter Punch card and place it on your side of the table to count up as Judge Points later.

Punch cards played as a Block can also grant you a Counter Punch as long as both fighters have the same color on them that matches the Counter Punch card. Which will lead me into just how the heck do you Block anyways? Well, I will explain.


Blocking is simple yet it does take fast thinking. To Block a punch you will be placing your cards on top of the cards your opponent is playing on your own fighter. The card must be of the same color, or the same punch, but it doesn't have to be both (like Uno). For instance let's say your opponent places a red Hook on your head. You have a red Jab in your right hand that you place on top of that red hook. Or you can use the yellow Hook from your left hand and it will also block the punch. Why would you ever want to do that? Blocking subtracts points away from your opponent at the end of the round. I will explain more when I get to scoring.

There's one last way to score and that's by Combos! These are my favorite way of scoring points, but can be tough to grab at times.


Combos have 2 or 3 specific types of punches listed on them. To get a Combo, you simply match the types of punches listed on the card to what appears on your opponents fighter. For example, let's say the current Combo card is showing a Cross, Hook, and Haymaker. You notice your opponent already had a Hook on one part of their body. You also see that you are holding a Cross and a Haymaker in your right and left hand. Place one on the head and the other on the body that is across from the Hook and you have succeeded in throwing down a Combo. These will list the value on them and are added to your score at the end of the round.

There's just a couple more things to talk about and that's how to Clinch, Knock-out, and End A Round.


A Clinch is a tile that lays to the side and middle of the table. Either player can use a Clinch if they feel that they are going to get Knocked-Out. The player simply grabs the tile, places it in front of them, yell out "Clinch" (like a little sissy), and take two health tokens from their opponents pile and put them into their own. You can use the Clinch when you run out of health markers. A Clinch will give you -3 points to your final score at the end of the round.


On the flip side of the Clinch tile is a Knock-Out! To achieve a Knock-Out you must drain your opponent of all their health tokens, flip over the Clinch side of the tile to the Knock-Out side, then deliver one more blow such as a Counter Punch or a Haymaker for the win. Once the tile is flipped over to Knock-Out, the Clinch becomes unattainable to your opponet and sets you up to instantly win the game.

End A Round

To End A Round, simply take the token that says it and place it on your side of the table. This will give you a -5 points during scoring, but could possibly prevent your opponent from scoring as well. For example let's say you played all your cards and notice that your opponent still has two pretty good sized stacks of punch cards yet to play. You could simply grab the End A Round tile to prevent them from being able to play anymore punch cards and immediately go to the scoring phase.

A round has ended by either someone grabbing the "End A Round" tile or by both players running out of cards. That's when scoring happens.


Now that you have both either run out of cards, or someone has grabbed the End A Round tile, scoring will take place. You and your opponent will cover one of the stacks that appears on your fighter. Both of you will then pick one of the two remaining stacks from your opponents fighter to calculate your score. This is where the card values come into play. You will also be subtracting any Blocks, Clinch, or End Of Round tiles from this stack.

For example let's say you've both run out of cards. You opponent covers the head of their fighter and allows you to take one of the two remaining body stacks. You choose one and immediately take all of your opponents Block cards out, then take out the highest value punch card for each Block that your opponent dealt. Add up all the values of the remaining cards. Add any Combos or Counter Punches you've accumulated through out the round, subtract any bells or clinches that you used and you've got your final score. Whoever has the most points wins the round. Whoever wins 3 rounds, wins the game.


Jab is fast, fun, and furious. It will keep you on your toes by forcing you into quick decisions. I'm sure once we play this more we might get more accustomed to paying more attention to what's all around us at all times, but right now it feels just like a true boxing match. It's more about watching your opponent as much as playing your own cards. Keeping an eye on the Combos seems to be the best way to score, but also by playing Blocks to subtract points from your opponent. I like the game and am happy to of purchased it.

Some of you guys looking for games that your wife or girlfriend will play with you might give his a look. The theme screams "guys only", but your girl might revel in the game-play if she enjoys kicking your butt.

So just how did the Championship Match end you wonder. Well, they do say a picture is worth a thousand words, so here you go.............

"Folks we have a new champion! After 5 rounds of cheating, biting, and hitting below the belt Carmen-Fabulous-Hair-And-Pretty-Nails-Norris has defeated our former champion Grey-long-Nose-Elephant!"

"And our former champ has said, (not that he's a sore loser or anything), that he wants a rematch....well after he heals."

Hope you enjoyed the review as much as I did making it. Please leave any comments or questions. Thanks!

I forgot to add one more thing and I wish to at this point. I know, it's the end of the review and all, but there was something that caught my attention and I felt it was worthy of passing on.

On the front of my instruction manual it says at the bottom Designed by Gavan Brown and in small text under that it says:

For my sons: Malachi and Kashton

Having kids of my own, I thought it was a sweet gesture.
Boys be proud of your dad, he did a great job for you!

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