Junk Art

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In Junk Art, players are presented with junk from which they must create art, hence the name. Junk Art contains more than ten game modes. Includes more than sixty big colourful wooden components. For 2 to 6 players, aged 8 plus. 30 minute playing time.
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Category Tags , , , , , SKU ZBG-PZG20020 Availability Out of stock
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Awards

Fun for Kids
Exceptional Components

Rating

  • Artwork
  • Complexity
  • Replayability
  • Player Interaction
  • Component Quality

You Might Like

  • Arguably the best dexterity game available.
  • Makes you feel like a giant kid. Who doesn’t want that?
  • Great game to welcome new gamers into the hobby.
  • Easy to play and teach.
  • Works incredibly well with any group type.

Might Not Like

  • The box artwork is hit or miss.
  • Limited number of venues.
  • Only owning one copy of the game.
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Description

In Junk Art, players are presented with junk from which they must create art. Thus the name.

Junk Art contains more than ten game modes, along with more than sixty big colorful wooden or plastic components. In one version of the game, players pile all of the wooden or plastic parts in the center of the table, then are dealt a number of cards, with each card depicting one of these parts. On a turn, a player presents their left-hand neighbor with two cards from their hand. This neighbor takes one card in hand, then takes the part shown on the other card and places it on their base or on other parts that they've already placed. If something falls, it stays on the table and the player continues to build on whatever still stands. Once players have finished playing cards, whoever has the tallest work of art wins.

VIDEO

Modern art is a bit of a trigger subject for people. How do we define art? What makes one person's painting more valuable than another person's sculpture? Do we recognise the grandeur of temples as art, and if we do, should we also acknowledge all buildings a form of art? Can we consider literature as art, and does that make these words I am writing for you, here, and now, art? Why can a model of a banana duct taped to a wall sell for $3350, yet if I did that I would be escorted to the nearest mental institute?

These questions are not answered in Junk Art. But what you will learn in this amazing game is how well you yourself can interpret ideas, how accurate your sense of balance is, how steady your hands actually are, and most importantly you can finally answer that question that has been gnawing at you; is your table on a slant or is it just your imagination?

Junk Art Vs Plastic Version Vs 3.0

This is officially a review on the 3.0 edition of Junk Art. But there are a few versions out there available. Rest assured however that the game plays exactly the same no matter what version you have got your hands on. Junk Art and Version 3.0 are the exact same. The only difference being a wooden box for the first edition, (easy on the eyes), and a standard cardboard box for 3.0, (easy on the wallet).

The plastic version, as expected, has plastic pieces instead of wooden ones. Which along with being even easer on the wallet, is also much more child friendly. I prefer the wooden pieces myself as I only play the game with adults but the plastic version is available for those with younger gamers. It is always good to have options, and honestly, it would be great if more dexterity games would follow this example.

What IS Junk Art?

Much like the question of 'what is art?' this question isn't any easier to answer. But I will damn well try. If I didn't, then there wouldn't exactly be much for you to read now would there?

Junk Art at its root, is a dexterity game. And possibly one of the best ones readily available on the market. I cannot tell you just how much fun I have had playing this game. When you boil it down into basics, then all it is, is stacking things on top of other things. That's it! But with how accessible it is to players of all ages, the ease of set up, and how much fun the game is to delve into, then I guarantee that it will become a fast favourite of your group. And if it doesn't, send it over to me and I will combine all sent games into one, mega, incomprehensibly magnificent game.

The Game

As you open the box, you will immediately be drawn to the 4 colours of 'stuff'. Do not get ahead of yourself though, this isn't like most games where everyone chooses a colour to play with (most of the time). It is these blocks of vastly varying shapes, sizes and colours that you will be tasked with stacking, balancing, and of course, creating art with!

The game will have you choosing 3 venues at random. Each of these venues will have different stipulations to the way in which you build. For the most part, it will be some variation of revealing cards and building whatever shape, in whatever colour is shown. Or drafting cards and making your opponent build the shape that you give them. Sometimes the winner is whoever builds the tallest structure, sometimes it is whoever has the least number of pieces fall off, sometimes it is simply the last person standing. This is easy though, right? I mean, just stacking stuff is hardly difficult, we have all played Jenga.

Not quite so! You are building upon a tiny little plastic plinth. None of your pieces are allowed to touch the table. You are allowed to rotate and place the plinth however you wish before you start. Placing it on its side will provide you with double the starting height for example, great for when the winner is the one with the tallest structure. This will, however, reduce your base by half of its surface area to work with, not so great if the first piece you need to place is a ball (which has happened to me more times than I care to recall). You won't last long in this case, (trust me on that) no matter what engineering skills you possess.

You will compete (or not so compete) with each other over the course of the 3 venues, and whoever has the most fans by the end wins.

The Venues…

The venues in Junk Art represent your world tour. Travelling from city to city to attract new fans for your structures. As mentioned above, each venue will have its own unique stipulations. They are mostly slight variations of each other, but different enough to make each game feel a little bit different from the last, as usually, only 3 of them will be played per game. Each shape in each colour has a single card to represent it, and it is this deck that is used in different ways to tell you what piece(s) you need to place next. The venues and the way in which they are played go hand in hand together as the theme of the venue playstyle reflects the cities in interesting ways.

Some of the venues incorporate different mechanics in very interesting ways to give you the junk pieces you will be using. For example, Tokyo will have you drafting cards, then choosing one to give to the next opponent, then your hand of cards gets passed on. This process proceeds until all cards have been played. Amsterdam can only be played with 3-6 players, and this is because you will be playing a mini trick taking game at the start of each turn in order to try and be the person who gets to choose who is getting which piece to build next.

There are even venues that go a step further to mess with your perception of how 'easy' simply stacking bits of junk is. This is the only game I have ever played where the concept of 'semi-cooperation' makes any sense at all. There will be times when instead of having your own plinth to build from, you will be working together on a single or combined plinth. This adds to the challenge, as you need to build in a way that is structurally sound so that you don't topple the tower, whilst at the same time trying to set your opponent up with a tough move to balance on. There is even a venue that goes a step further than this and requires you to move around the table to continue building from an opponent's structure. And even a bigger venue type that combines Junk Art with Flick 'em up. I do not own this game however so am not sure how that works. I am sure it is a lot of fun though.

Where Some See Junk, Others See Art!

There is much to love in this game. Building structures is so satisfying, especially when you manage to pull off the balancing act of a lifetime! The venues are all different and fun to play. The game plays great with 2 players, and great at 6 players. I love that there are a few blank venue cards included so that you can get your creative hats on to make your own venues, (stay tuned for my upcoming custom venues feature!) and even an email address provided in the rule book to submit your ideas to.

This would be such a great way to interact with us as the consumer; if our ideas were collated and produced as an expansion pack of venues for instance. I even reached out to Jay Cormier (one of the designers) to see if there are any expansions on the horizon. Amazingly, I received a response, but we will have to be a little more patient it seems for now. I have no doubt that we will see expansions at some point though, as the game would be super easy to include modular expansions.

Do not interpret this as thinking that there isn't enough in the box to keep you occupied though, far from it in fact. The game is just so good, I was just eager for more.

The Components…

Let's be honest with ourselves for a moment. I imagine most of you skipped everything I wrote above to find out just what it is like to get your hands on these wooden bits of imagination fuel. (Please wash your grubby hands first!). I can positively tell you, that I was not disappointed with any component in Junk Art. The star of the show -the wooden pieces- are absolutely great. They are light weight and chunky, with unique and interesting shapes to play around with. Some people have commented on the plastic plinths in relation to the wooden parts, but this makes perfect sense to me. The wooden bits, are, naturally susceptible to heat, precipitation, etc, whereas the plastic bases provide an even playing field for everyone, no matter what (table slants excluded).

The cards are great quality, the fan tokens are simple and plain, which I appreciate as it doesn't take the shine away from the main attraction and there is even a tape measure included in case someone is adamant that their structure is taller than yours. Even if it clearly isn't. I even love the component tray insert, as everything fits in the box incredibly well and there is even an individual space for the dumbbell pieces as they are the most fragile. The rule book is massive in size alone, easy to read and explains each venue really well.

As you can tell I find it hard to criticize anything in this game. But criticize I must…

The Junk…

I don't like the artwork. That is, it. And that, as art in general is, simply my own opinion. But then I guess this whole review is just that too. Shhh! Don't poke holes in my logic!

The Critical Round Up…

This game is fantastic. I love dexterity games and Junk Art stands tall above all the other ones I own. The game plays great with family, with young players, with new gamers, with seasoned gamers, and even those looking for a fun game to play with some tipples of rum.

I could write about this game for days but having already cut parts out to save my editors eyes from melting, I will wrap this up here.

Long review short: I love it. Try as I may, I cannot find fault in Junk Art, and you should definitely, 100% go and buy it! Right now! Why are you still reading!? Go, go go…

Junk Art is a dexterity game that is all about gaining the greatest number of fans to win a (typically) 3 round game. You gain these fans from touring the world with your art skills and presenting pieces that appeal to the locals. The cities are your venues. Each encourages you to play differently. The game also encourages you to create your own venues. This, as a self-appointed creative individual, appealed to me greatly. I was sure the internet would be rife with people's inventions. I was, however, disappointingly a little... well, disappointed. There were only a few people in the furthest corners of the virtual world with one or two posted ideas.

So, what does any self-appointed creative individual do in such a predicament? Take things into their own hands of course! Here is a small selection of venues (both simple and crazy) that I have created for your enjoyment!

Note: This feature will presume that you know how to play Junk Art and are familiar with the rules of play already.

Jakarta - Indonesia

Being the "widest city in the world that isn't a collection of other cities" is a bold claim! Appeal to this amazing statement by sculpting the widest possible sculpture!

Players: 2-6

Goal: Widest structure

Exhibition End: Chosen by player

In Jakarta, every player will be taking turns to flip the top card of the junk deck and place the depicted junk piece on their sculpture. The twist here is that instead of building the tallest structure, you must in fact build the widest!

If any piece falls off your structure, then you are eliminated from the game. At the start of your turn, before you draw a card, you may choose to stop building and declare your piece as 'finished'. If you choose to reveal a card, then it must be placed on your structure. By choosing not to add anything to your structure, you skip any consequential turns in the game. Essentially you are relying on others to get too ambitious and knock themselves out. Careful choosing when to leave your sculpture, as 'finished' will be key to victory in Jakarta.

Exhibition End And Fans Awarded

When all players have either been eliminated or declared their sculptures as 'finished'.

1st widest sculpture: 5 fans

2nd widest sculpture: 3 fans

3rd tallest sculpture: 1 fan

Hong Kong - China

The people of Hong Kong live in inconceivably small spaces. As their population grows, so too does their need for more housing. Due to its limited size, the only way to build is up. You have been hired (for some reason) to create the most efficient living quarters within the limited space.

Players: 2-5

Goal: Keep the population housed

Exhibition End: Elimination

The deck of junk cards is separated roughly into equal stacks as there are players. Each player reveals the top card of a different deck and must place that piece onto their structure. For every round turn, they must place a fan token onto their structure (colour irrelevant) equal to the turn it is. For example, turn 1 you must place 1 fan token somewhere on your sculpture, turn 5 you must place 5 and so on.

The population does not wait for you however so you must create as much space as you can to house each person. A fan token cannot touch another token, but they can share a structure piece. If two fan tokens touch, then they must be separated immediately. Play continues until there is one person remaining. They have successfully built the most efficient housing.

If there are no fan tokens remaining due to everyone building adequately, then they must place a second junk piece each turn instead. When one person is eliminated, their fan tokens are returned to the shared play area for others to use.

If you cannot place as many fan tokens as needed by the round, then you must continue building new pieces until you have 'housed' as many fans as needed before everyone continues to the next round.

Exhibition End And Fans Awarded

Play continues until there is one grand architect left in play. You are eliminated as soon as ANY number of fans have fallen off.

Player left standing: 10 fans

Players who were eliminated: -5 fans

Brockworth - England

Brockworth is hosting its annual cheese rolling festival again soon. They have commissioned you to build a fancy sculpture at the bottom of the hill for everyone to see. Is that a cheese wheel barrelling towards you? Maybe this wasn't a good idea…

Players: 2 or 4

Goal: Avoid the cheese!

Exhibition End: Being the last person to survive a cheese catastrophe.

To set this venue up, use the tape measure provided to place a plastic plinth for each player 60cms away from each other. If playing a team game of 2v2 then place a second plastic plinth 20 cm away from the first on each side. Each player takes the long flat junk piece and the flat sphere piece (numbers 6 and 15 respectively) of any colour and removes the representing card from the deck. Each player places the long flat piece on the edge of their plastic plinth (flat side facing down) in order to create a ramp. You see where this is going!

Take it in turns to draw a card from the deck and place the depicted piece onto your structure. Whenever you place a piece, however, one player on the other side of the 'field' is allowed to place their ball on their ramp, and let it roll towards you. Lucky for you that there is both a hole in the ramp and a flat side to the ball, so accuracy isn't in anyone's favour. But that also includes yours when it is your turn to roll your cheese piece.

No force rolling allowed! Only allow your cheese ball to roll naturally off of the ramp.

Note: The distances may need to be tweaked slightly depending on what surface you are playing on. Experiment to find your optimal distances.

Exhibition End And Fans Awarded

You are eliminated from the game as soon as you have had 6 or more pieces fall off your structure in total. Either from your own placement choices or collision from the opponent's cheese ball.

2-player game: Winner is awarded 5 fans

2v2 player game:

  • A solo victory will award you 10 fans.
  • A joint victory will award you 5 fans each.

Åland Islands - Finland

Being part of the biggest archipelago in the world, you have decided to work on a piece that represents its many many many many many many islands.

Players: 2

Goal: Keep the islands connected

Exhibition: When the star is revealed.

Each player will take 3 plastic plinths instead of 1 and arrange them in a triangle formation 10cms away from each other. 10cm from the inside of each stand, not the outside! Split the deck into 2 stacks and shuffle the star card into one of them. Place the two stacks back together keeping the one with the star in it on the bottom. Draw and reveal 3 cards.

Each player will take turns choosing one of the pieces on display to build with, then replacing that card with the top card of the deck. Players must build on one base on one turn, then move to the next stand in clockwise order for the next turn. You can only build on a piece if it is connected somehow to the base's turn you are on. The aim is to connect each base by the time the star is revealed. The bases must be connected somehow directly to each other base.

For example: if base A is connected to base B and base B is connected to base C, then base A and C are not considered connected. Each base must connect to the other 2 bases with junk that does not overlap another base.

Exhibition End And Fans Awarded

The game only ends when the star card is revealed. Any junk that has fallen off your structures (and into the sea) are discarded.

Three bridged base pairs: 5 fans

Two bridged base pairs: 3 fans

One bridged base pair: 1 fan

No bridged base pairs: -5 fans

Prague - Czech Republic

Petrin Park plays a big part during Valentine's season, playing host to many people taking a pilgrimage to share a romantic kiss under the sculpture of a romantic poet. Getting overly popular, you have been asked to create a second sculpture for couples to enjoy.

Players: 2-6 

Goal: Keep your sculpture erected for the longest 

Exhibition End: elimination 

Each player reveals the top card of the junk deck and places the junk piece depicted. When you place a piece that touches another piece of the same colour, then you reveal the top 3 cards of the deck. You then select one of the pieces revealed and give it to your opponent to place. They have to place this in a way that will touch another piece of the same colour. This does not trigger them to reveal cards from the deck in turn, this action only happens for whoever's turn it currently is. The other 2 cards are re-shuffled into the deck. 

If there are no cards revealed that match any colours of any opponents' current structure, then the cards are shuffled back into the deck and the next player takes their turn. 

Players are encouraged to build in a way that tries to leave space for other junk pieces given to them or to employ the rule of nudging pieces with the active piece wisely. If there are only 2 players, start the round with 3 bases each, all touching in anyway, if there are 3 players, use 2 bases each, both touching. 

Exhibition End And Fans Awarded 

The exhibition will end when there is only one sculpture remaining. This will be the sculpture that gets commissioned for the park.

Last sculpture standing - 5 fans 

Second to last sculpture standing - 2 fans 

And There We Go!

So, there you go, if you find yourself running a little bored of the venues in Junk Art, then try some of these out for size. Some of them, are admittedly a little whacky, but that to me just adds to the fun! 

Have fun with Junk Art, and do not be afraid of experimenting with the game and coming up with some unusual venues for yourself! 

Zatu Score

Rating

  • Artwork
  • Complexity
  • Replayability
  • Player Interaction
  • Component Quality

You might like

  • Arguably the best dexterity game available.
  • Makes you feel like a giant kid. Who doesnt want that?
  • Great game to welcome new gamers into the hobby.
  • Easy to play and teach.
  • Works incredibly well with any group type.

Might not like

  • The box artwork is hit or miss.
  • Limited number of venues.
  • Only owning one copy of the game.