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Jakarta Traffic

Jakarta Traffic was designed by Simon Schmieder in response to his frustration at always being stuck in traffic when travelling around Jakarta. In this game then, the 2-4 players are motorcycle taxis drivers delivering hopefully fast food, parcels and passengers. You are picking up orders and racing to be the fastest to navigate through the abstracted city.

The game is played using tiles containing pick up points, charging stations and buildings. These are randomly sorted but fitted into a grid so that each row contains three pick-up points, one charging station and a building, and no buildings are orthogonally adjacent to each other. Order tokens variously represent passengers and different foods and you should start off with one stack of orders in each row and column.

Players have boards that are modelled on mobile phones, including a track showing the phone's charge. There's also a central board that displays the five different pick up options (three foods and two passengers) with their destinations and the reward for delivery. This is a fluid market as the pick-up tokens move up when a delivery takes place. That means your delivery can screw up another player's plans by altering the destination to which they thought they should be heading.

On your turn you can take two actions. The first is optional - it's to sound your horn. This action actually allows you to reorient any tile or to replace a tile that doesn't have anything on it and hasn't previously been manipulated (you place a marker on a tile when it's the subject of a 'honk' action). The mandatory action is to drive: moving your motorcycle taxi as far as you like along one of the roads that starts on your taxi's tile. If none of the routes available from your tile are helpful, you can push your luck and roll two six-sided dice. These will in effect give you a grid reference and you'll move directly to the indicated tile. Since the game is played on a 5 x 5 tile grid, rolling a 6 allows you to move anywhere you like.

Land on a tile with order tokens and, provided you have space for it, you can take one at a cost of 1 energy. Other tiles in the stack can then be moved to any other pick-up location. Land on a tile with another motorcycle taxi and you collect a chat token, which will give you a set collection bonus at the end of the game, and all the taxis get one charge on their phones. Delivery to a destination costs energy, so you do need to keep an eye on your charge level, and you may need to visit a charging station, which will let you charge fully.

Jakarta Traffic doesn't give the expected feel of traffic jams but the fluid delivery board and the changeable maze of streets makes it an interesting game with ample scope for strategic planning as you plot your optimal route. You need to keep a close eye on other players' progress in making their deliveries in the knowledge that if they deliver before you do then your destination will change. Canny players will of course anticipate those delivery board changes in advance to avoid heading in the wrong direction.

Simon Schmieder has incorporated some thoughtful touches that other designers could learn from. With games that involve moving or rotating tiles it can be all too easy to forget the orientation that the tile had at the start - something you absolutely need to know if you change your mind during the course of your turn. Tiles in Jakarta Traffic all incorporate a subtle arrow symbol so you can line the supplied compass token adjacent to this to mark your starting point before taking a 'honk' action.

Jakarta Traffic successfully funded on Kickstarter earlier this year. It comes with several mini-expansions and variants already in the box and it's due to be published in October 2024.

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