Game Buzz: Junk Art

Pretzel Games’ first game, released last year, was Flick ‘Em Up!, and it was a huge success.  From the current buzz, it’s looking like their second game will also be a hit.  It’s called

image by BGG user W Eric Martin
image by BGG user W Eric Martin

Junk Art is a game by Jay Cormier and Sen-Foong Lim, aka The Bamboozle Brothers.  These guys have had success in the past with games like Belfort, But Wait There’s More!, and This Town Ain’t Big Enough For The 2-4 Of Us.  Junk Art is a dexterity game for 2-4 players where players have to make art out of junk.  There are twelve different modes of play, which makes this more than just a standard stacking game.

The game comes with 6 wooden bases, 60 fan tokens, 60 wooden junk pieces (15 shapes in 4 colors), 60 Junk Art cards, 15 City cards, a Start Player/Change of Direction card, a Special Star card, 3 Cactus cards, and a tape measure.  To set up the game, give each player a base, shuffle the Junk Art cards, and place all Junk Art pieces in the center of the table.  Take the City cards and remove any that don’t support your number of players, then shuffle them and deal out three.  This is your World Tour, and determines which modes you’ll be playing with. It is recommended that your first game be with Philadelphia, Monaco, and Paris in that order.

The basic rules for placement are as follows: you can use one or two hands, but whenever you pick up a piece, it becomes your active piece.  It can go anywhere on your structure as long as it doesn’t touch the table.  You can use the active piece to move another piece on your structure, but the only things your hand may touch are the active piece and the base.  If a piece touches the table, you take it and keep it as a fallen piece.  If you cause someone else’s pieces to fall, you take them.  You may not touch another person’s structure.

So now, let’s go through the twelve modes, presented here in alphabetical order.

AMSTERDAM (3-6 players): Deal each player three Junk Art cards.  Each player chooses one and plays it face down in front of them.  Players all reveal at the same time, and the player with the highest value wins the trick (if there’s a tie, red beats blue beats green beats white).  The winner gives one card from the trick to each player, and each player adds the appropriate piece to their structure.  Players then draw a new card.

You are out if you ever have two or more fallen pieces.  The round ends when one person is eliminated.  The player with the tallest structure then earns three fans, with all other non-eliminated players earning two.

GUJARAT (2-4 players): Each player gets all pieces of one color.  On a turn, one player flips the top Junk Art card and all players must place that piece.  Once a player has two fallen pieces, the round is over and you get fans based on who has the tallest structures.

HOMETOWN (2-6 players): Each player gets four random Junk Art cards.  On your turn, you will choose two of the four cards and hand them to your neighbor in the direction of play.  They choose one and give the other back to you.  You both must now place the piece from your card onto your structure.  Each piece that matches the color or shape of the active piece gains you a fan (which is kept separate from any fans you may have won in previous games). You end your turn by drawing two cards.

The exhibition ends when one player has five or more fallen pieces.  Return one fan from this round per fallen piece you have, then gain fan bonuses for having one of the top three tallest structures.

INDIANAPOLIS (2-6 players): Each player is dealt a deck of 10 Junk Art cards.  When the start player says “GO!”, all players flip their top card, find the matching piece, and add it to their structure.  When this is completed, yell “DONE!”  When all but one player is DONE, the player who is not DONE does not get to place their piece.  There is no effect for fallen pieces.

Once all cards have been played, each player gets fans based on how many pieces they were successfully able to add to their structure.  The tallest structure gets a bonus fan.

MONACO (2-6 players): Each player is dealt a deck of 10 Junk Art cards.  As with Indianapolis, players will simultaneously flip their top card, find the matching piece, and add it to their structure.  However, here you will not be stopping.  Keep flipping and adding.  Fallen pieces must be added back to your structure one at a time.

When a player places their tenth piece, the round ends immediately.  Fans are scored based on how many pieces are in your structure, with a bonus fan going to the tallest structure.

MONTRÉAL (2-6 players): Deal each player 3 Junk Art cards.  Each player then chooses a card and plays it in front of the next player in turn sequence, who must then find the piece and place it.  This continues until each player has three cards in front of them.  At that time, you and your fan tokens move one seat in the direction of play, and you’re now working on a different structure.  If two or more pieces fall off of the structure you’re working on at the same time, you and the structure are both out.

If one player is left standing (with his last active piece placed), he wins the round receives five fans.  If multiple people are eliminated at the same time, they share the win and each receive three fans.

NASHVILLE (2-4 players): This version requires a copy of Flick ‘Em Up to play.  Each player takes a cowboy, and places their bases 50 cm from each other.  Deal each player four Junk Art cards.  Each player will choose three of their cards and place the corresponding pieces on their structure (this is still part of setup).  The three cards are placed in a personal discard pile with the last piece placed on top.  The remaining Junk Art cards are split into two equal decks with two cactus cards shuffled into the top half and the third placed face up on top of the bottom half.

On your turn, draw until you hold two cards.  Play one and place the matching piece on your structure.  If you play a cactus card, you add a cactus.  If the card you played matches the color or number of the top card in your discard pile, you get 1-2 shots at an opponent’s structure using your cowboy.  If pieces fall off of your structure without being shot, they are removed from the game.  If they fall after you shoot, you’ll claim the fallen pieces as loot after placing one of them on your own structure.  If you hit an opponent’s cowboy, you steal a piece of their loot.

When the third cactus card appears, play until everyone has done the same amount of turns and award fans based on who has the tallest structure, as well as who has the most loot.

NEW YORK (2-6 players): Cut the Junk Art deck into three piles, and put the Star card on top of the third one.  Place the other two back on top.  Three face up cards are dealt to the table.  On your turn, choose one of the face up cards and add that piece to your structure.  If it’s touching a piece of the same color or shape, you must choose another one.  When your turn is over, refill the display.  Fallen pieces are just removed from the game.

When the Star card comes out, the cops have arrived and everyone runs away.  You get fans based on who has the tallest structure.

PARIS (2-6 players): All players will be working off of one base.  Each player is dealt three cards.  On your turn, choose a card and play it in front of the next player, who must then place the piece.  When you have three fallen pieces, you are eliminated and all non-eliminated players get three fans.

PHILADELPHIA (2-6 players): Deal each player three Junk Art cards.  On each turn, players all look at their hands, keep one card, then give one to each of their neighbors (or both remaining cards to their opponent in a two-player game).  You then have to place all three pieces one at a time.  You are eliminated as soon as you have 2+ fallen pieces, and the last player standing gets five fans.  If all remaining players are eliminated at the same time, or you run out of Junk Art cards with multiple people still playing, those players all get three fans.

PISA (2-6 players): Place two common bases in the center of the table, next to each other.  One Junk Art card per player (minus one) is dealt face up to the table.  On your turn, choose one and place the piece.  When all cards have been taken, deal new cards.  You are eliminated when you have two or more fallen pieces, and all players who were not eliminated each get three fans.

TOKYO (2-6 players): Deal ten Junk Art cards to each player.  Each player simultaneously chooses one card and puts it face down on top of their deck, then passes the entire deck to the next player.  That player reveals the top card and places the piece, then chooses a new card, and so on.  When all cards have been played, the round ends and fans are awarded based on the height of your structure.  Fallen pieces have no effect.


A game of Junk Art ends when you’ve played through all three stops.  The player with the most fans is the winner.

image by BGG user punkin312
image by BGG user punkin312

Just when you think you’ve seen everything a stacking game has to offer, something like this comes along.  They found a creative way to package the game with all the variants.  And the variants really do well in incorporating other popular game mechanisms.  Like drafting – who ever thought you could do a dexterity game with drafting?  There’s speed games, simultaneous play, and even a way to work in the previous Pretzel Game, Flick ‘Em Up.  The pieces look great, and everything about this game screams HIT.  I’m looking forward to learning more when it is officially released at GenCon.  Hopefully I’ll get to do a demo since I’m actually going to be there this year!

That’s all for today – thanks for reading!

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