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Subject: For the Meeple, by the Meeple (Review of Junk Art) rss

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Michael Carpenter
United States
West Virginia
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One man's junk is another man's art. Take seemingly useless pieces of junk and create the next modern masterpiece.

Style of Game: Dexterity
Play Time: 30 minutes
Theme: Art Exhibits
Number of Players: 2-6
Main Mechanics: Stacking, Hand Mangement, Player Elimination
Components: Very Nice
Weight: Light

I would say the theme of the game goes well with the mechanisms. It's hard to buy into the "World Tour" aspect of the theme but the creating masterpieces from "junk" comes through well. You feel like you have made an abstract piece of art if your design lasts to the end.

The players should start by each taking a black base piece.

Next, all of the other art pieces should be spread out in the middle of the table and the all the junk art cards should be shuffled and set aside until dealt to players.

There are 60 total junk art cards (15 of 4 colors) and 60 matching pieces of junk. The colors in the game are: orange, blue, green, and gray.

Fan tokens and the measuring tape should be placed near the playing area within reach of all players.

Fan Tokens

Once setup is complete players will draw three of the city cards to form the locations of their World Tour (be sure to remove Nashville if you do not own Flick em' Up) and play will begin.

City Cards (15 total with 3 blank)

The City Cards represent which city or set of rules the players will be playing with. Each of the 12 City Cards with designer collected cities on them have a specific way for the players to stack the pieces over the course of the round.

Just one of endless different combinations

*Note: Creations will typically consist of multiple colors.

Players will be eliminated in different ways according to the rules of the city in play. The rules typically eliminate players for knocking pieces off the creations or require a race to occur.

Fan tokens are given according to the rules. Once all three cities in the World Tour have been completed the players count their fan tokens and the player with the most fans wins the game.

Note* There are 12 ways to play the game (not counting the blank cards used to make your own rules) and there are some small rules about measuring creations and how you can and can't touch the pieces once they are placed.


My assessment of board games is broken into three core areas: Depth of Strategy, Quality of Design, and Replayability.

Depth of Strategy

You would think that because this is a dexterity game that the level of strategy is that of all dexterity games... How can I place this piece so the structure doesn't fall? However, Junk Art takes that thought process you are familiar with and mixes it with a mechanism not commonly associated with dexterity, hand management. Now, not only do you have to make wise choices as to how to stack the pieces, you also have several different ways to play the game that often include making strategic choices as to which pieces to give your opponent or which card to play in a set taking mini-game. I know people give this aspect of the game credit but I think it deserves even more than it is given because it has makes Junk Art a game. Often times when you play a dexterity game you leave thinking about just made a mistake when placing a piece or removing a piece. In Junk Art you actually get the feeling after you play a card and realize how easily an opponent placed it or how hard it really was, that you actually are outplaying your opponent or getting outplayed. This makes Junk Art special for me in the dexterity genre. On multiple occasions I have stopped and thought... he or she is good at this game, and it wasn't just because their creation was three feet high, it is because they are making great strategic moves. This strategic element only goes as deep as light end of hand management can go but it is a nice surprise when you start playing the game.

Depth of Strategy:
3.0 = A simple strategy will give you an advantage but it isn't necessary to compete.


This is where the game is worth its price in my opinion. If you just took the 60 pieces and said... stack these. There would be replayability. The pieces help promote replayability because they are so well thought out and work so well together or against each other. However, when you consider that there are 12 different games (11 for a lot of people) and you play 3 of these game (or more if desired) each time you play, the replayabilty possibilities are incredible. The changes from rule set to rule set are not minor. They aren't saying stack all of one color, now mix two colors. The games feel drastically different, ranging from moving around the table to different creations all over the table to playing a set taking game to assign which pieces will be given to each player. The game will lose its luster due to it being a dexterity game before you exhaust all the possible ways to play this game.

4.5 = A go-to game in almost any situation.

Quality of Design

Stacking I touched on this above but the design of each piece in this game was obviously well thought out. If you just pick up any two pieces in front of you they will likely work together in some way. However, once your start stacking, some pieces are a nightmare to have to add to your creation while others are a pleasant addition. Each piece also has a number to tell you how difficult it is considered (1-15). This is a small indication to how hard each piece is though because the "easiest" pieces can be hard when your hands are shaking or you're rushing to finished your last piece in a race.

Hand Management: Again, the mechanism is on the light end of hand management but when included in dexterity it is a solid addition. I find myself having to make meaningful choices as to which cards I am going to play. They are only as meaningful as a light-hearted game will allow but when you consider that it isn't just grabbing a card and playing it, it is a nice little element of the game.

Player Elimination: As most people would agree, I feel there is very little room for player elimination in modern board games, but this game fits in that very small area of acceptable player eliminated because when you have been eliminated it is a short and fully engaging wait for the next opportunity to play.

I want to clarify that while I don't see a whole lot wrong with the actual mechanism in the design of the game, I think it suffers from the label "dexterity". I think people that do not enjoy the genre are going to hesitate to buy a dexterity game because they seem to have a short table life, getting pushed to the hard to reach areas of your shelves. That is not part of the design as much as a perception of dexterity games. I thin the design is brilliant but may or may not fit into my typical rating scale because of the dexterity nature of the game.

Quality of Design:
4 = A good design that will engage players for several plays.

I myself avoid dexterity games in most cases because I don't think they are games as much as they are just short-term entertainment and the interested fades away quickly. However, I played the GIANT version of Junk are the GenCon 2016 and really found it to be intriguing. I still hesitated though because I felt it was going to be less satisfying to play with the small retail version of the game. I finally gave-in and purchased the game and I am not disappointed. I do have to admit there is that slightly less satisfying feel of the pieces not being chunky and large at first because when you open the box and feel the smaller pieces for the first time they seem light and not quite what you expect, but once your start playing with them the challenge is still there and the pieces may actually be weighed a little better in the smaller version, allowing for just the right amount of seemingly impossible placements of the pieces.

I probably still wouldn't have bought Junk Art after playing it at GenCon if it weren't for the card play and the "game" included in the box. I just find this to be the right addition to a dexterity game. Having to plan your moves rather than just having a steady hand is an addition to the game that I find significant and I think it will allow more than just the typical dexterity game enthusiasts to enjoy the game.

I really can't find a major complaint for the game but I will say I am not sure it is quite good enough to really convert people that do not enjoy dexterity games but I would say it is one of the closer ones on the market because with 11 or 12 ways to play the game, there is likely something everyone will enjoy and if there is only one way to play it for a particular person, the game is flexible enough to just play it if you'd like and the experience doesn't suffer too drastically. A minor thing to be aware of is the level of reliance on color. The pieces are easily definable but there are four colors of each piece. When I receive a card with a blue version of a piece it is pretty important that the blue piece be available or I can be looking for a piece for a long time. This is fine for most rule sets but in a race this could be a problem. I, nor anyone I play with regularly is color-blind so I don't know the degree as to which this will impact the game but I thought I would mention it.

Keep in mind, this is a dexterity game so if you don't like them, don't buy it. If you do like them and have been on the fence about this one, I would say it is definitely worth trying to see if you like it. I never like to suggest buying without trying but if you have NO way to try it but you have researched this one and think you'll like it, I would be surprised to see if fall flat for you. Do your research and make good choices for yourself though! My opinions can't speak for everyone but I have never bought a dexterity game whether I liked it or not before Junk Art and I am satisfied with the purchase.

Overall Rating -
I will use this game in several situations, with kids, with family, with non-gamers, and as a filler with gamers. It will not be the meat of a gaming get-together but I am happy to have it available.

If you enjoy my reviews please recommend and check out my geeklist For the Meeple, by the Meeple
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