A to Z Gaming: Jenga

We carefully pulled blocks from an unsteady stack in Jenga, the next game in our A-Z game shelf play-through.

Basic Info: Jenga
Players: 1-8
Time: 20 Minutes
Designers: Leslie Scott
Artists: Tony Moore
Publisher: Milton Bradley

Jenga is a dexterity game where players pull blocks from a carefully-stacked tower and place them on top in hopes of not being the person to cause the tower to fall.

The game is set up with the 54 wooden blocks arranged into a tower with rows of 3 blocks in alternating directions.

On their turn, players use one hand to remove exactly one block from the stack – leaving all other blocks as they were. The player can switch hands, but at any given time, only one hand can be touching a block. Once the block is removed, it is placed on the top of the tower at a right-angle to the previously completed row of three blocks. That player’s turn ends when the next person touches the tower…though that next player can wait up to 10 seconds before doing it to see if the tower survives!

The game ends when the tower collapses – all or in part. The loser is the person whose turn it was when the tower fell.

I know there are other – better – dexterity and stacking games, but Jenga has a special place in my heart as one that I’ve played as a kid. In fact, it was this very copy that I played – the box I have is dated from 1986! I used to be pretty good – able to get blocks that everyone thought were hopelessly stuck. That didn’t seem to be the case anymore, but no matter, it was fun anyway.

This game has a lot of happy memories, including getting in a couple games with my nieces on one of my visits a couple years ago. It will stay in my collection, even if I don’t get it to the table very often.

How is it as a 2-player game? Jenga works well as a 2-player game. It maybe works better as a “party game” with lots of people messing around with the tower, but there’s an intensity with just 2 players that’s kind of fun.

How about the art and component quality? There’s no art in the game, so not much to say there. The blocks are good quality, and have held up well over the past 30-plus years.

Will this stay in my collection? Yeah, I think so. I might have other games that are better stacking and dexterity games – with more “game” around them, but this one has many happy memories from when I played it as a kid.

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