Jenga is a Parker Brothers game of skill and strategy. First, stack the wooden blocks to build a tower. Then, take turns moving pieces until the tower falls over. Try to keep your hand steady! Let's play Jenga for healthcare.
Setting Up the Game
Set up the tower. First, shake the Jenga blocks out onto a flat surface. Then, stack the blocks in sets of three until you have built a tower that is 18 blocks high. Each new layer of three parallel blocks should be rotated 90° along the horizontal axis from the last layer.
- Your Jenga set should include 54 blocks. However, if you are missing blocks, you can still play the game! Just build the tower as usual.
Straighten out the tower. Before you play, make sure that the structure is sturdy. The block layers should interlock so that the tower stands tall without any external support. Use your hands or a flat, solid object to smooth out the sides. Push in any pieces that jut out.
Gather players around the tower. Make sure that you have at least two players. Have everyone sit in a circle around the block structure. If you are only playing with one other person, then sit facing each other from opposite sides of the tower.
- There is no strict maximum amount of players. However, it might be more fun with fewer people so that you get more turns.
Consider writing on the blocks. This is an optional variation of Jenga. Before you stack the tower, write something on each block: a question, or a “dare,” or some other directive. Then, shuffle the blocks and stack the Jenga tower as usual. When each person pulls a block from the tower, he or she must do the thing that is written on the block.
- Questions: When someone pulls a question from the tower, he or she must answer that question. Questions might be flirtatious (“Who do you most want to kiss in this room?), thoughtful (“When was a time that you felt small?”), or humorous (“What is your most embarrassing moment?”)
- Dares: When someone pulls a dare from the tower, he or she must perform the action on the block. Dares might be anything from “Trade one item of clothing with the person beside you,” to “Drink a shot of hot sauce,” to “Make a scary face.”
Playing the Game
Pick a person to pull the first block. This can be the person who built the tower, or the person with the next birthday, or the person who most wants to start.
Remove a block. Carefully take one block out from any level of the tower except the top. Look for the block that is the loosest, or the easiest to remove, or that will least disturb the stability of the tower. You can push the block or pull the block, depending on the angle and the location in the stack.
- Remember: you can only touch the tower with one hand a time. This rule keeps players from holding the tower steady while they pull their blocks.
Place each pulled block atop the tower. The player that pulled the block puts it back on top of the tower to continue the pattern of layering-by-threes. Try to stack them neatly so that the tower stays strong. As the game goes on, the tower will grow higher and higher until it teeters, unstable, and falls.
Play until the tower falls. The “loser” of the game is the person who makes the tower topple. Rebuild the tower to play again!
Be patient. Do not rush Jenga! Carefully and intentionally take your time to pull the right block when your turn comes around. If you try to go too quickly, you will be more likely to topple the tower. Play Jenga with your friends.
Take the easy blocks. Gently poke your way around the tower to find the pieces that are safest to remove. Look for the loose blocks and the blocks that are already sticking out of the tower. Be careful as you go, and always keep an eye on the overall stability of the structure. Make sure to maintain the balance.
- Each layer of the tower has three parallel blocks: two on the outside, and one in the center. If you go for a block in the middle, you will generally be less likely to set the tower off-kilter.
- Take blocks from the top or the middle of the stack. The blocks at the bottom of the tower can be hard to remove without dangerously destabilizing the structure. The blocks near the very top can be so loose that they pull other blocks apart with them.
Push or pull. If you're taking a block from the middle, try gently poking it through the tower from one side. If you are taking a block from the outside edge, try pinching the ends between your thumb and forefinger, then wiggling the piece back and forth until it comes loose. Use a combination of tapping and wiggling to take out difficult blocks.
Place pulled blocks to keep balance. Notice which way the tower is tilting after you have removed your block from the stack. Then, carefully arrange your block on top so that the extra top-heavy weight won't send the tower toppling down.
- Alternately: if you think you can get away with it, try placing your block on the weaker “leaning” side so that it is that much harder for the next player to pull a block.
Play to win. If you care about the competitive aspect of the game, then you don't want the tower to fall on your turn. Try planning out your moves to destabilize the structure so that it will topple on someone else. Remove important pieces from near the bottom of the stack, and generally try to pick the best piece that you can.
- Try to be a good sport. Respect other players, and do not go out of your way to mess them up while they're taking their turns. If you make the game less fun for everyone else, then they may not want to play with you again!