Junk Art is a dexterity game for 2 to 6 players. Players take on the roles of artists travelling around the world and making art installations in various cities. The rules vary per city, but the game revolves around stacking all kinds of oddly-shaped wooden or plastic pieces. Win conditions include, for example, being the first to stack a specific number of pieces or being the last one standing.
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Pro Easy to start playing
The basic premise of Junk Art can be taught within a minute or two. The whole game revolves around stacking pieces and getting points from your structures. Each game has three rounds – three cities you must go to, which are either chosen or randomized at the start of the game. They are sort of like mini-games that each have their own rules – what must be built, what is the win/lose condition, etc. The goal of the game is to be the player with the most fans after three rounds.
For example, Indianapolis makes players simultaneously flip the top card of their 10-card deck, find the matching piece, place it, and say “Done!” The last player to say it doesn’t place the piece. This is done until all cards have been played, the player with the most pieces gains the most fans.
There’s almost never a dull moment while playing Junk Art because most of the time everyone’s playing at once. Every round will be different – some cities are time-based, others just require you to keep building, but all of them involve some sort of interaction between players – passing cards, swapping places, cooperating, etc.
There are plenty of laughs to be had while playing Junk Art, be it funny creations, memories of someone’s tower falling apart, or a specific city.
There’s a sense of achievement when you manage to create something that looks cool and doesn’t instantly fall apart. Creations tend to get quite unstable, so there are going to be some intense moments where they wobble around a bit, but both outcomes are good – it falls, and everyone laughs, or it doesn’t, and everyone still laughs.
Some of the cities you’ll encounter in the game can also create hilarious and memorable moments. for example, Montreal, where you must choose one out of three cards, pass one to the player on your left, place the piece you received, and then swap places with the next person in the direction of play. Basically, you pass bad cards to your opponents, but if your opponent manages to place them, then that becomes your problem in just a few seconds.
Pro Good components
The game excels with truly high-quality components. The box itself is made of wood and works as a great storage for all the small pieces. The stackable pieces are either wooden or plastic, depending on which edition you’ve got. Either way, both materials are durable and do not feel cheap.
Many of the stackable pieces are unusual shapes – partially curved figures, dumbbells, flowerpots, etc. However, their centers of mass are very well-balanced, which means that no piece is better than another – it’s all situational.
Pro A lot of variety
You will never play the same game of Junk Art twice. Usually you’ll get different combinations of cities and your constructions will be unique every time. The base game comes with 12 cities (one of which requires the game “Flick ‘Em Up” to play) and 3 blank cards for custom cities.
The 12 cities are diverse – some require you to be the fastest, others make you compete in creating the highest structure, and there are even some especially interesting cards, for example, Montreal makes you swap places with other players, or Paris requires you to cooperate and create one structure together.
Con Not for people with shaky hands
It’s no surprise that dexterity games require steady hands, otherwise creations risk falling. Some cities allow room for errors, but in others the round ends as soon as someone drops a piece or two, which is fine occasionally, but if it happens too often because of trembling hands it kind of ruins the gaming experience with an abrupt ending.
Junk Art is quite a pricey game due to the components – there’s a lot of them and they are of high quality wood or plastic. The version of the game with wooden pieces sells for $40-60, whereas the plastic version goes for $25-40.
Con Environment dependent
Junk Art is a game that requires you to stack pieces together – this demands a completely even surface, so the tower won’t fall over, and some room for every player, so they don’t accidentally elbow each other. Moreover, this game can’t be played outside or next to an open window very well because a gust of wind might ruin your construction.