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Jabuka Review

Quick Look: Jabuka

Designer: Not identified
Publisher: Jabuka
Year Published: 2019 
No. of Players: 2–4 players or teams
Ages: 8+
Playing Time: 15–30 minutes
Find more info on BoardGameGeek.com

Jabuka is a fast-paced word game. What creates the speed of play is everyone uses the same tiles, or beans, to make their words without taking turns.
The tiles are coffee beans. On each one is a letter or a combination of letters. Some are printed in yellow, and those beans can be twisted in different directions to make different letters. For example the same bean could be a “c,” “n,” or “u” depending how you twist it into the word you want to make. The others are white and are not able to be twisted into different letters.
You are not only pulling the beans from the center pot, but you can also take the words other players have made by changing it into another word. This can be done by twisting the yellow beans and adding new beans to the word.
Three of us sat down to play Jabuka and had fun. It was a little bit of a slower start for them because they had played other word games, like Scrabble, and were unfamiliar with the fast-paced style of calling out words and grabbing the beans. Once they got into the play, they were enjoying themselves.
Jabuka had the feel of many other word creation games I have played. The ability of twisting letters and racing to create words gave it a unique feel. While we played I thought about not only Scrabble, but Boggle, Quiddler, and Paperback.

How the beans start.
Spill the beans. Each player/team draws two of the wild beans and spread the rest of the beans until they are a single layer. Don’t turn them over. You start the game with the beans you can read.

When the beans are flat, start calling out words and bringing the beans together in front of you to spell them. The yellow beans can be positioned to create letters of what fits to make the word.

Call out words and make them.
You also call out words that can be remade from other player’s beans. You have to use all of the beans in the original word, but they don’t have to be the same letter. Twist them around to come up with a new word and steal the beans. You can also add letters to the new word. The one thing you can’t do is separate the beans to make multiple smaller words. We saw one set of beans get stolen back and forth several times changing a letter, then adding one, the changing one, then adding some more, then again by adding some more and changing them around.
Once you have a word in front of you, you aren’t allowed to change it. You must wait until someone has it in front of them. You can also make the same word again, if you are using new beans.
Keep pulling words around until everyone agrees there are no more words to be made. Then each player/team turns over two beans and everyone is back at it with another round of making words and stealing beans.
Flip over more beans to start another round until there are no more beans to flip.
At the end the player who has the most beans wins.
Twist other players words to make new ones.
Theme and Mechanics
The rounded beans work well because you are not able to line up the edges of the tiles. Some beans need to be at an angle to work (the “t” can be twisted into an “x”).
The speedy play gets the brain working. Everyone is racing to find the words. We also found it fun that when you look at the words in front of the other players you are seeing the beans in a twisted state. Seeing them in this different format allowed to see some of the other words that could be made with them.
The theme of coffee beans is explained by the history of games in coffee shops where people would come and share ideas while having a drink and playing a game.

Artwork and Components
The bean tiles are durable. They should withstand many games.

The Good
  • Easily portable allows it to be played as a cabin game.
  • Fast play could be used as a filler game.

You can add letters and combine, just can't take them apart.
Final Thoughts
Jabuka has won several awards and they are well deserved. I like a good word game and this is one. I have some friends who like a little slower paced game and they have already figured out some alterations so they can slow it down and chat while they play. Another was talking about the faster pace would get their children more involved with a word game because they don’t like the games that are slower paced.

Players Who Like
  • Word games like the ones a mentioned above (Scrabble, Boggle, Quiddler, Paperback)
  • Head-to-head fast paced games

Check out Jabuka on:


Daniel Yocom - Reviewer

Daniel Yocom does geeky things by night because his day job won’t let him. This dates back to the 1960s through games, books, movies, and stranger things better shared in small groups. He’s written hundreds of articles about these topics for his own blog, other websites, and magazines along with stories, after extensive research. His research includes attending conventions, sharing on panels and presentations, and road-tripping with his wife. Join in the geeky fun at guildmastergaming@blogspot.com.

See Daniel's reviews HERE.
Jabuka Review Jabuka Review Reviewed by Guild Master Gaming on September 13, 2019 Rating: 5

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