What's up with JATI?
One of the "Holy Grails" for fans of the classic 3M series of games, a series of games that was home to many Sackson designs, was Jati.
Some more information about Jati:
According to an article published in the Minneapolis Tribune on December 5, 1965, Jati was designed by artist ("basically a painter") Keith Havens from Mound, Minnesota. In its original incarnation, Jati was played on a piece of stiffened burlap, rolled scroll-style and packaged in a round tube. However, realizing that such a presentation would not fit in with the line of 3M games, Havens reworked the game with plastic boards and bookshelf box packaging. While the article states that the game "is being marketed by 3M", that bit of information was premature and, as it turns out, inaccurate.
Jati was originally slated to become another bookshelf boxed abstract strategy game in the 3M line but before committing to a full scale production, the executives at 3M wanted some feedback. Naturally, they went to the "Games Guru" himself to see what he had to say. Here, from a letter to 3M dated July 29, 1965, is Sid's take on this rarity.
The method of play is similar to Go-Bang, Pegity (Parker Brothers), 99 (Washburne Research & Mfg.) etc. The limitation in placement of pieces, the use of "boosters", and the scoring system make Jati a much more interesting game, however. Montezuma (Wales Game Systems, 1952) uses a scoring based on bonuses for each completed row of 5 or more. There are also penalties for blocking an opponent's row of 4. The board consists of squares of different colors which enter into the determination of bonuses and penalties.
On the basis of three games played, this appears to be an interesting and well worked out game. One possible drawback is the fact that the game is easy and pleasant to play using pencil on quadrille paper (the way I played it). This could be a serious detriment to sales. The word game Jotto enjoyed a considerably popularity, but most players used pencil and paper rather than buying the prepared equipment.
The rules are clear but somewhat repetitious. They could be considerably condensed without any loss. The "Basic Scoring Sequences" diagrams would be clearer if crossing sequences were not shown, particularly in the case of the diagonal sequence. The "Game in Progress" diagram hardly seems worth including.
(It seems that Sid's input, particularly the comment that the game might be too easily played with paper and pencil and thus work against sales, may have had an impact. The 3M brass decided NOT to issue the game, resulting in a true 3M game collectors' rarity! - HL)
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