Times Played: 10
I never look at dexterity games as strategic. Maybe it’s because I’m not good at them so I don’t typically play them. I own several, Fuse and Rampage (Terror in Meeple City) being two of the more notable editions but I was lucky enough to have a friend bring over Junk Art, which is an action/dexterity game that comes in a large wood crate.
Each game of Junk Art involves three rounds where three random cities are drawn from the World Tour deck of cards. Each city will determine the rules and objectives of the round as one city card is used per round. Unless otherwise stated on the card, all players will have access to all the junk pieces traditionally placed in the center of the table.
The world tour aspect is lost on me but the idea of taking what is available and creating “junk” art does fit the theme.
Along with the World Tour deck, there are also the Junk Art cards that contain the fifteen types of junk pieces in the four colors that the game provides. The way these cards are used is based directly on the city card that is in play for the round.
When the round is over, points (or fans in this game) will be based on the objective that was on the city card. After three rounds, the player with the most fans wins. The fans are just tokens and work but are incredibly uninspiring.
Since the rules are so heavily dependent on the city cards, I am going to use the city card of Gujarat as an example.
Gujarat is for two to four players as noted by the player symbol on the left of the card.
Each player receives all pieces of one color, as noted by the middle icons.
According to the lower right icon, the round ends when a player has had two or more pieces fall off their art installation.
Lastly, the bottom icons show that the first place finisher receives five fans, the second place finisher receives three, and the third place finisher receives one. So in a four player game, the last place finisher receives nothing.
Unfortunately, the card does not tell you what you are trying to do or how play commences. Luckily, the rulebook covers the rest. For Gujarat, the goal is to have the tallest structure and building is done by flipping over the communal stack of Junk Art cards and having each player use the piece revealed to build on their installation in their color.
This is one of my minor gripes about the game that the cards do not offer all of the information needed to play as you will refer back to the rulebook several times.
Other intricacies to make note of is that all your pieces have to be placed on the base and once a piece is placed, it can only be moved by using future pieces; your hand cannot remodel your installation.
Junk Art is incredibly social and interactive and while you have to refer to the rulebook for the city objectives, there was never an instance where anything was unclear or confusing. The game also includes several blank city cards so you can create your own goals for future play.
Think of the game as a reverse Jenga, where the shapes are different and you have to build as opposed to remove…so basically nothing like Jenga.
Junk Art does involve player elimination but typically it only lasts for another minute or so. Enough to grab a snack or use the restroom. But it does exist and people should be aware of it and that the more people playing, the longer the elimination might last.
With the wood version, I believe the pieces to be sturdy enough that no matter how many times they fall or from the height of the installation that they won’t break. There is a plastic version available for roughly half the price but I cannot comment on the quality of the pieces.
The fan tokens leave a lot to be desired and are just black and white chits. They do their job but compared to the rest of the game fall flat.
This is a simple game to pick up and play although I do worry that with only fifteen city cards (which include the three blank cards) that the same goals could become boring fairly quickly. Also, we have yet to play a game that only lasts the three rounds. As Junk Art does not take a lot of time to play an individual city, we typically run through the entire deck in a sitting.
I really enjoy Junk Art as a dexterity game. I was unsure going into it as having a steady hand is not something that runs in my family but overall it was a lot of fun. The variations of the cities and the deck of cards sometimes dictating your moves add more than I thought to this game and I think is something that will keep Junk Art in the spotlight for longer than a typical dexterity game lasts.
The price point scared us off purchasing this when it came out originally as the wooden box and wood pieces command a hefty tag but after playing around with a friends copy we see it as justified. However, if a reduced cost plastic version hits the market we might scoop that up.
I don’t think there is any major differences regarding player count but feel like this would be more fun with more players, as the social aspect would allow the game to shine a little brighter.
I have the time listed as “varied” as each round is dependent on which world tour you are doing, player count, and the card(s) drafted for building. I think we ran through every card in an hour and a half, but that also included breaks for food and such.
Minus the small grievances I aired earlier I really don’t have any complaints about this game. I can’t say that this is such a good game that it would convert people over to enjoying dexterity games that otherwise do not like them but I can’t say that’s really much of a complaint. The game is heavily reliant on color so I am unsure if someone with color blindness would have an issue with anything presented.
I think Junk Art can fill a role in any gamers collection (as long as they enjoy dexterity games) as it appeals to many age groups and can be an excellent filler for a game night.