Board game Jenga which is also known as “Tower”, is quite simple. Players have to create a construction of wooden bars and then pull out the bars one by one from the bottom of the “building” and put them on the top floor. The construction will become very unstable with each turn until it collapses from an inadvertent movement or a breeze blow. The game was invented by Englishwoman of Tanzanian origin Leslie Scott in the early 1970s. Its progenitor was a game of cubes, in which Leslie played as a child. The word “Jenga” comes from the verb “build” in Swahili. Nowadays the game is produced by one of the “daughters” of the “Hasbro” company.
The rules of the game are clear to both the preschooler and the grandmother. It is necessary to build a building of bars with the inscription “Jenga”, laying three bricks in a row, and three bars perpendicularly on them. In total, you will have a tower with 18 floors.
After that, you need to pull out one block from the tower and arrange it at its top so that your “skyscraper” stands. You can touch the tower, try on, touch the bars that are going to be pulled out, but only with the one hand. The main thing is not to break it. You broke the tower – you lost. After each move player should wait 10 seconds and if the tower remains stable, the game moves on.
Sometimes people play Jenga, using the grate of not 3 to 3 but 4 to 4 bars. In this case, the initial building can turn out into a marvelously intricate construction, the fall of which will be really epochal.
To date, there are alternative Jenga games and different variations of its traditional version. For example, you can buy a set with numbers on cubes and take out not just random blocks, but the one whose number fell on the dice.
The rules of this game describe only the general principle of action but experienced players know that there are subtleties:
- Do not hurry. The main thing in the game is accuracy, so try as much as you want and take your time;
- Try how strong the bricks are. Some of the wooden bars can be pulled out easily while others- no. If the block does not want to go – do not pull it, otherwise, it will almost certainly be crushed;
- Try to build a tower not higher, but more stable. So the game will last longer. Or, on the contrary, make a shaky top, hoping that the opponent will not be able to repeat your focus;
- If you push out the central blocks, rather than the side blocks, the chance of collapse is significantly reduced.
The game is unpredictable because a mistake in a millimeter can cost you a victory. The original Jenga even keeps in secret the exact dimensions of the wooden bars. Allegedly, each brick is slightly different from the other, so that there is no exact balance and it would not be possible to select an unambiguously winning strategy. However, the banal error in production produces the same effect.
The most interesting moment starts when the tower is already distorted and every movement can crush it. Will this happen from the pulled out bar which, as it turned out, kept everything on itself? Or maybe the construction will fail when the player has already pulled out a brick, put it on the roof and exhaled with relief? No one knows and this is the main interest of the game.
How to diversify the gameplay?
When you have learned the basic rules you will get bored. Prior to purchasing games similar to Jenga, you can bring in fresh ideas. It will be more fun and more difficult if you can:
- Write numbers on the ends of the wooden bars, throw dice and pull the strictly defined bar;
- Write on paperwork tasks and take them before each turn. For example, do everything with your left hand or sing a song during the process;
- Tasks or questions can be written on the surface of bars;
- Do not overbuild the tower but dismantle it from below until there will be so many holes that it collapses.
This game is so popular and it will not be a surprise for anyone that there are a lot of games like Jenga and its variations. Let’s take a look at the most popular of them:
- Colored Jenga. Colored version of the traditional game quite complicates a simple game process. In the kit, there is a cube, the faces of which are painted in six different colors. Each of the bars is also painted in one of these colors. What color fell on the dice while throwing, the detail of the same color has to be pulled out.
- Jenga with numerals. This variation is similar to the previous one but instead of the different colors, each bar has its own digit. Players throw the dice and have to pull out the block with the same number.
- Jenga Boom. This version is the most extreme among all other Jenga alternatives. It is equipped with a timer-bomb. When the timer is started each player has to pull out a brick under the unnerving ticking. With each turn, the length of the wick will become shorter and shorter and the count will go on for seconds. If you want to make your favorite game riskier and try to cope with the panic – this alternative is for you. Hurricane of the unrepeatable emotions is guaranteed.
- Jenga Quake. This variation is unique because the tower has to be built on a special moving base-stand. In this version, the bars are made of plastic instead of the wood. We can surely say that if you consider yourself a professional of Jenga, you will have to try very hard to keep the balance while playing this game.
- Jenga Tetris. This game consists not of rectangular bricks but of Tetris parts. Pull them and put on the roof without ruining the tower will be a daunting task.
- Jenga Chairs. This version is maximally unusual. Instead of the wooden pieces, you will have to make a “skyscraper” made of multi-colored plastic chairs that you need to cling to each other.
- Giant Jenga. This large two-meter version of the traditional game can be rented for a party or corporate event.
- Suspend. This is a game with long metal curved rods that you are going to place on kind of a balance point. So as you’re placing these on this balance point, you’re forming different wire hangers that are all over the place. In fact, by the time that you are done, the whole things look like a modern art thing. People will come by and look at it. It’s entertaining, and the whole thing is swaying in the breeze until someone foolishly causes it to collapse.
- Rhino Hero is another game like Jenga, except Jenga is this big, Rhino Hero’s just a small deck of cards sometimes called Super Rhino. There’s a new bigger version called Rhino Hero Battles, and in this game, you are folding cards. Never fold cards. But you’re folding cards and building towers, and then moving a superhero rhino up these towers. So the cards will fall at some point just like a Jenga tower, and as the stack of cards gets higher and higher, people are like, “What’s going on?” And it’s a very, very portable game.
- Click Clack Lumberjack. This is, the tower’s already built at the beginning of the game, it’s a tree with bark pieces around the outside. You have a little plastic ax, and you hit the tree, trying to knock these bark pieces off without knocking the main parts of the tree over because that causes you negative points. So you’re trying to knock things off, but not too much off.
- Junk Art looks like somebody went to the store and they bought a whole bunch of these wooden pieces there and put them in a box and called it a game. That’s what it looks like, but it plays very differently. These pieces are very well thought out, they fit together, there are all different shapes and sizes, and players will be playing multiple styles of games. Maybe you’re building your tower, and perhaps everyone’s building a tower in the middle, maybe you’re giving your opponent a piece that they have to stick on a tower. The different styles of games plus how well, innovative these pieces fit together makes some pretty cool, neat junk art, but also makes it a really fun stacking game.
- Arch Rival. This is a game in which you build an arch of plastic pieces. This is an older one, but it’s pretty easy to find in thrift stores, and it’s a cool game. It’s on kind of a plastic rotating piece, and you build this arch which is held together solely by these pieces pushing against each other. And then you drop plastic parts into them, and as you fill them up, pulling plastic pieces out without the whole thing collapsing. It’s a really neat visual effect, and it has bright colors.
- Kaboom. One of the things we like about building Jenga is watching it fall on other people’s turns. That’s entertaining for sure, and Kaboom lets you build towers and then shoot a catapult and try to knock other people’s towers down. You can build really big towers, but if you do that, the chance of someone else knocking it down or wanting to knock it down is going to be higher.
- Animal Upon Animal. This game from HABA looks like a kid’s game, it’s marketed as one, but it works for kids, adults, and families for sure. There are many different variations of this game, and in it, you get all sorts of wooden animals, from snakes to crocodiles, to monkeys, to toucans, and they’re all different shapes, and you have a bunch of animals in front of you. You stack them on top of each other in the middle and, of course, if you make some fall, those animals come in front of you. Get rid of all your animals, and you win. Chunky shapes work great for the wee ones, works great for old folks. It’s just fun in general because you get to see these animals stacked up there, and there are all sorts of fun little animals to add to the mix.
- Smartphone apps. In addition to this, there are different mobile applications, so you can download your favorite entertainment to your phone.
To date, you can find different analogs and variations each of that will please you with the same unique emotions as the traditional Jenga created in the distant 70’s.