Recommended for kids ages 8 and up, this new game still features hardwood blocks similar to regular Jenga, but the goal of Jenga Maker is to race to build block structures based on which card you draw. Jenga Maker includes 28 colorful hardwood Jenga blocks, a wooden Jenga crown, and 200 different object cards divided into beginner and expert categories.
Two teams of two players each will face off to build and crown three miscellaneous objects out of Jenga blocks, whether that be a lobster, a kangaroo, a wedding cake, or something else. Before starting, players must pile the blocks in the center of a table (the more chaotic the pile, the better), place the crown block evenly between the teams, choose which difficulty of the object cards they want to play, then shuffle the deck and place it facedown.
One player from each team will act as the director while the other will act as the maker. At the start of each round, each director will draw one card from the deck without looking at it. On a count of three, the directors will both flip the card to reveal the object that the makers must build. The directors then direct the makers to build the object on the card by describing block shapes, colors, and counts, without gesturing or saying what the object is. Makers are allowed to ask clarifying questions.
When a build is finished, the director will shout “Crown!” to signal the maker to snatch the crown-shaped block and place it anywhere on the creation without toppling it. If any piece falls off, the maker must place the crown back between both teams before fixing the creation. After a player successfully places the crown on the finished build, the game is paused and the opposing team will inspect how well the creation matches the card. If it matches, the team that built the creation gets a point, and if it doesn’t, the opposing team gets a point. Directors and makers switch roles after every round.
Jenga Maker also allows for a two-player mode, in which two makers compete against each other, and a three-player mode, in which a third player acts as a judge and takes the place of the losing maker in the next round.
Jenga Maker’s gameplay manages to differentiate itself from standard Jenga while still remaining simple in nature. The game’s explanation of the rules on the instruction sheet is quite thorough in an effort to ensure fair play, albeit a bit lengthy. Because of that, parents are encouraged to assist kids in reviewing the rules, or even participate in the first few rounds of play.
The object cards offer a clear 3D view of every creation, list every block necessary, and generally do a good job of combining them into a creation that resembles the object in real life. Objects range from animals, food, vehicles, to even different types of buildings, like a castle or a movie theater. Of course, the 3D views of some objects in the expert cards are less clear and will take kids longer to process how to build, as they should.
Overall, Jenga Maker is a great substitute for regular Jenga if you want to spice game nights up with new flavors.