If You Like Jenga Check Out These Games

If you have played Jenga, you have probably felt that tension as you very carefully pulled a block from a precariously balanced tower that’s ready to topple at any moment and you have probably felt that relief when it doesn’t fall after you place your block on the top of the tower and pass your turn. As the tower gets taller and taller you simultaneously want it to fall over and just get it over with, but also want to keep it growing ever taller to see how tall you can make it. And even though you know it’s coming, somehow it still shocks you when the tower finally topples and crashes to the floor. Today I want to talk about some games you might like if you enjoy Jenga.

Junk Art

The first game is Junk Art in which players take on the role of artists using obscure objects to create abstract sculptures. There are twelve different cities that you can exhibit in and each city is a different scenario to play through. Each scenario has a different win condition, but the gameplay is the same: you must use a variety of oddly-shaped pieces to build your art and try not to let it fall. There may even be a bonus for the tallest structure.

Junk Art requires a steady hand, balancing skills, and maybe even a little luck, just like Jenga.  The difference here is that you are building art. Junk Art requires a bit of creativity in addition to your ability to balance whereas Jenga is fairly straightforward in that you put the block you just pulled in the spot that will most evenly balance the tower. Also, in Junk Art, each player is creating his own tower, which makes it fun to compare your own art with your opponents’ art.

Lift It

Lift It is a similar concept to Junk Art in that you are building a structure with different shapes, but the catch here is that these structures must be built with a crane. Sometimes you will use your hand to maneuver the crane, but other times it might be attached to your head, making the game even more challenging.

In Lift It, everyone may be playing against everyone else, or you can form teams to challenge each other. When it is your turn to build, you choose a card that shows you what you are to build. You have a certain amount of time to build it and get a certain number of points based on how many pieces you placed correctly in the time limit. Lift It is a great game for larger groups of people and kids find it to be especially fun. I’ve tried to explain Lift It to groups of kids before and they really don’t even care how to play the game, they just want to try their hand (or head!) at building different structures with the crane. Lift It is a fun, silly, and surprisingly competitive game that everyone can enjoy.

Animal Upon Animal

The next game is more geared towards children, but still a fun game to test your balancing skills. In Animal Upon Animal players are trying to build a tower of animal figures. To start, each player takes a stock of animal pieces. On your turn, you roll a die and, depending on the result of the roll, you (or sometimes someone else) must stack a certain number of animals on top of the tower. The first player to get rid of their pieces wins, but you have to be careful because if the tower collapses, you may have to take some pieces back.

In my opinion, the best kids’ games are the ones that their parents can enjoy as well. Animal Upon Animal may technically be a children’s game, but the cute theme combined with the need for some balancing skills makes it a great game for everyone. I’ve even seen some of our “grown-up” patrons without children have a blast with it. This game is also probably the most like Jenga in that all players are building on the same tower, but unlike in Jenga, if the tower collapses on your turn, that doesn’t necessarily mean that you lose, giving players more chances to continue playing on an uneven tower.

Suspend

Suspend is the final game and perhaps the game that looks the most dissimilar from Jenga because of its use of rods instead of blocks. However, the balancing act required in the game is still the same. Starting with the base (a metal rod standing up, but slightly leaning), players take turns placing rods of differing lengths on the base. Each rod has notches in it that you use to place them and once a notch is used, it can’t be used again. The player who runs out of rods first wins.

Not gonna lie, but I think that Suspend may be the hardest of these games because the rods just don’t want to stay on very well sometimes. I remember playing this game with Tom’s daughter, but we kind of made up our own rules and played it cooperatively, trying to put all of the pieces on at the same time. We did it, but only because we didn’t know about the “each notch can only be used once” rule so we had multiple rods hanging from the same notch sometimes. I have yet to play it how it’s supposed to be played, but I’m sure that it’s difficult to find good places to hang certain rods—especially those pesky yellow ones!

If you think that you have the steady hands of a surgeon then try out one of these games the next time you’re in the café! And don’t forget that we also have a giant version of Jenga available if you want to play a new twist on the classic game. The store record is 34 and 1/3 levels high, held by the Keegans themselves—maybe you can beat it!

The tower collapsed just one block after this one

 

Six Adorable Games Starring Cats

Cats are pretty great right? I mean, who doesn’t love cats? The Internet certainly does. They’re basically adorable little balls of fluff (that are sometimes crazy and evil, but that’s just part of their charm!) so how can anyone resist? I certainly can’t. So for today’s post I thought I’d combine two of my favorite things, cats and nerd stuff, and talk about some of the great games we have in the café that are all about cats.

I mean just look at this precious creature!
Rat-a-Tat Cat

The first of our cat games is a fun, light game for families with younger kids or new gamers. The goal of Rat-a-Tat Cat is the end the game with the lowest score. In order to do that, you’ll need to collect cards to make sure that the value of your four cards are lower than the values of your opponents’ four cards. However, everyone must keep their cards face down so you won’t even know what all of your starting cards are, much less what other players have.

Part of the fun of Rat-a-Tat Cat is the cute theme. All of the lower cards in the deck (aka the ones you want) have cats on them, while the higher cards have rats. This makes the goal of the game to get rid of the rats and go for the cats. Kids especially will enjoy the theme and it’s a great game to help them learn memory and number skills.

Meow

Another game that kids especially tend to enjoy is Meow, a light bluffing game that is very quick to play. In Meow, Not Meows have infiltrated the secret Meow meeting. You have to figure out who is a Meow and who isn’t. The deck is full of two different types of cards: Meows, (cats) and Not Meows (not cats). On your turn you draw a card and, no matter what is on the card, say “meow.” Other players then have the chance to accuse you of being a Not Meow. If you have any Not Meow cards in your hand, they win. If you don’t, they are eliminated. Other ways of winning include being the last player left after everyone else is eliminated or, if you have two Not Meow cards in your hand you automatically win.

There is no real strategy to Meow unless you’re really good at reading people (which is sometimes easier when you’re with friends), but it’s still a cute little game to pass the time. Kids definitely have fun trying to imitate cat noises to their best ability. Meow is also great if you want something super quick. I’ve seen a game of Meow end after only two turns. If you’re good at deciphering whether your friends are telling the truth when they meow then this is a game you’ll want to check out.

Cats

Cats is a programming game with a bit more strategy than the previous two games. In Cats each player gets a character (all cats of course!) and that character’s deck. Each deck is the same except each character has its own special ability. If you haven’t played programming games before, the way it works is that everyone secretly chooses what they’re going to do then everyone reveals their cards at the same time, meaning that you don’t get to see what other players are doing before you make your move. This, of course, is part of the strategy. You have to try to predict what your opponents will do so that you can make your move without worrying about any of them messing up your plans.

The goal of the game is to catch wild birds and eat them. Each deck comes with Action Cards and Targeting Cards. During the programming phase, players each chose an Action Card and a Targeting Card. Once everyone has chosen their cards, they are revealed and the cards take effect in a certain order. You can target wild birds (stalking or catching them) or you can target other players and steal their birds. Finally, you can target your own birds to play with them (which makes them worth more) or eat them. Each bird your cat manages to eat is worth a certain number of points. The player with the most points at the end wins.

Simon’s Cat

Simon’s Cat is a new game in our library. From Steve Jackson Games, Simon’s Cat is based on the popular Youtube series of the same name. In the game, you are a cat and you do cat things while trying to not get caught. If you get caught making messes by Simon you get closer and closer to losing.

Simon’s Cat is a fast-paced game similar to Uno in that players are trying to lay down cards that either match the color or number of the face-up card on the table. If you get stuck and can’t lay a card, you take all of the cards in the middle. This pile is a “mess” made by Simon. After all players have emptied their hands, the player who made the most “messes” gets caught by Simon and takes a Simon card. The first player to get three Simon cards loses. Everyone else wins! It’s simple and silly and great if you want a quick game to play with some friends.

Here Kitty, Kitty!

My personal favorite of the list, Here Kitty, Kitty is a kitty collecting game. I’m sure almost everyone remembers when Neko Atsume became a huge hit a few years ago (if you don’t check it out! It’s a phone app where different kitties will visit your yard and bring you presents!). Well, in my mind, Here Kitty, Kitty is what Neko Atsume would be like if you played with other people.

In Here Kitty, Kitty, there are a ton of stray kitties wandering around the neighborhood. You play as a person in the neighborhood trying to lure kitties from the neighborhood into your house. You can even try to steal cats from the houses of other players. At the end of the game you get points based on where the kitties are in your house and what color cats you have. The best part of this game is that it comes with mini cat figures. Unfortunately, while we do have this game available for sale, we do not currently carry it in the library for play. I can say that it’s a fun, light game that might be worth the $25 price tag. I even played it with my family (if you all remember from previous posts, they’re not at all gamers) and had no issues!

You Gotta Be Kitten Me!

The only game on this list that I have not played is You Gotta Be Kitten Me. The only reason for this is that the game is only in our retail section so I am unable to open it. However, I do know that the game is similar to Liar’s Dice (a game you may know from the second Pirates of the Caribbean movie). The cards consist of pictures of cute animals decked out in adorable accessories. On your turn you have to try to guess how many cards are in play of either a certain color or accessory. You can up the bid or challenge another player if you think their bid is too high. With each challenge someone will lose a card. The last person with cards is the winner. It seems to me that if you want a cute bluffing game, this could be a good option!

If you’re a fan of cats like me you’ll definitely want to check out these games the next time you’re in. The first four can be found in the Breadstick section and the last two can be found in the retail section. Now if only it weren’t a health code violation to bring real cats into the cafe….