Chances are you saw the video of the Super Fun Awesome Party Game Time team playing “Lubed Up Jenga” and thought to yourself, “Hey, Self, how else can I take Jenga to the next level?” Well, maybe you didn’t think that, but I sure did and then I wrote a list about it. You’re welcome.
JENGA BUT BETTER
Here are two variants of Jenga that are basically the standard game but a lot more intense. First we have “Chess Clock Jenga” which accelerates the game dramatically and introduces an alternate win condition; running out your opponent’s clock. Here’s a video from British Youtuber Tom Clark
You’ll notice their chess timer is available on an app, in case you don’t just have a chess timer sitting around your house. Since this isn’t 1935, we presume you don’t.
You can also play EXTREME Jenga, also known as Ultimate Jenga, where the pieces are laid out standing on their short side and the tower is built tall and unstable. I’ve played this version of the game and all I can say is that its big drawback is that it’s so difficult that players (other than experienced masters) tend to make the average game length two turns. Here’s a video of the Just Kidding crew playing the game.
GET A PEN!
If you’re really bored with standard Jenga, you can always add challenges to the various blocks. There are a few variants of this but they all start with writing something on the wide flat sections of all or most of the Jenga blocks.
Truth Or Dare Jenga – They actually sell retail versions of this game but you can make your own easily by writing dares or questions on the blocks. It’s best to put a different dare or question on either side of the block and give the player a choice. If you can’t complete either challenge you must take another block and so on. Of course you still lose the same way. I’ve played a variant of this where there is one master dare that’s pretty awful and dropping the tower means completing that dare, no excuses… but the stakes are up to you.
Geek Activity Jenga – This functions about the same as Truth or Dare but instead of dares and embarrassing questions each block as a geek challenge ranging from trivia (Name 20 superheroes who were Avengers) to lighting a lighter on the first try five times in a row (like in the movie Four Rooms) or even coming in the top 3 on Mario Kart. If you can’t complete your challenge you must take another block. If you enjoy this variant you might want to label your blocks with codes or numbers instead and then you can build whole new lists for each playthrough.
Bar Jenga – There are multiple drinking game variants of Jenga, normally played with one of those comically large XXL versions. You can do the same by adding various drink commands to the pieces. Social, Drink 2, Give 2 etc… If you drop the tower, you must finish your drink. It’s not rocket science but it sure will feel like it somewhere around the 3rd game. Drink and play Jenga responsibly, folks.
Color Coded Jenga – Instead of writing something on the blocks, you can stain them various colors (or simply mark the short ends with painted dots) and play with a Twister dial. Then you must chose a block with the matching color to remove. If you don’t have a Twister dial you can key the colors to a random number generator. Of course, if you did have a dial, than you could also make people pull out the block with their right foot or something. Or you could just play Twister.
MAKE IT AN RPG
You probably already know about “Dread,” the block tower driven RPG by The Impossible Dream game company. Technically (or should I say “legally?”) it doesn’t use the game Jenga, but if you had a set of Jenga blocks laying around you could totally use that. Just saying. If you’re intrigued you can buy a copy of the game here and check out the game play on TableTop right here:
LIGHT IT ON FIRE
Ok, here’s something in the category of things you specifically MUST NOT try at home. The guys from Vat19 dipped their hands in special goo to avoid burning themselves as they played Jenga with a set of over sized blocks that were on fire. Its as insane as it sounds, but its also worth a watch. Keyword here is “watch” as again you must not try this at home.
Those are just some of the ways you can dress up your blocks and make them into something more advanced-gamer friendly.Of course you could just play regular Jenga because, like most so-called dexterity games, Jenga’s simplicity never takes away the fun factor.
What other ways are you taking Jenga to 11? Let us know in the comments and don’t just keep playing, keep innovating.
Header Image Courtesy Flickr (User: Ashley MacKinnon)