I have only had the pleasure of playing Dread only a handful of times in the last few years. But I love the simplicity of how it uses an outside physical element of the “Jenga” tower to add tension to the game. I have always thought it was an ingenious idea. Truthfully Dread is simplistic and perfect in its execution of this aspect of the game. There is really nothing that needs to be done to improve on the mechanic of tasks and complex tasks resolution.
Then I found this little gem sitting in my closet. Now I can proudly say thanks to my pile of ever growing board games I have thought of a way to make lovers of Dread feel a whole new level of fear for that tower of evil intent that is just waiting to topple.
Jenga Uno….So with this new item in hand. It quickly began to gnaw at me just how could I implement the unique features of Jenga Uno to a Dread Game.
Then it dawned on me you could use Jena Uno to expand on the idea of complex tasks in your games of Dread! It opened up a whole new realm of possibilities for Dread.
So laying out the Jenga Uno blocks I then Discover they have several types of Jenga blocks.
(There happen to be about three types of Jenga Uno out there. )There are 45 Uno blocks in each set, typically made of plastic and are colored red, yellow, green, and blue. Earlier versions of the game have the blocks numbered 1 to 4, while later versions added blocks bearing the Draw Two, Reverse, and Skip symbols. Later versions also include purple Wild blocks, which serve the same purpose as the Wild and Wild Draw Four cards in the game. My personal Uno Jenga set has the 4 wild blocks.
So let’s start with the easy part,
1-4 now represents how we handle complex tasks in Dread. If the task is not complex they may draw any block they chose from the tower. If the Task is complex the Host then will instruct the player to pull a target number from 1-4. With the target number set the player has several options open to them. They must pull one or more blocks that equal the complex tasks difficulty level.
There are several options open to the player to reach this target number. The player must pull from the tower any number of blocks that the player wishes in an effort to reach the designated target number.
If you have the version with the additional blocks bearing the Draw Two, Reverse, and Skip and Wild Symbols. These are how they are used in play.
Each of these blocks has a value of 1 for standard or complex task totals while in the tower. Once pulled the player does not return blocks bearing these symbols to the top of the tower. Instead, the player may opt to use their special properties for any future tasks they are involved in. A player may only have one special block in reserve at a time. If they chose to draw an additional block from standard or complex tasks from the tower they much immediately discard back down to one special block. The Properties of Special Blocks are listed below.
Draw Two Block can be traded in at any point by discarding it. Placing it next to the tower. Once discarded it counts as two blocks pulled for complex task calculations.
Skip Block may be discarded at any time to resolve any non-complex task.
Wild Block may be discarded at any time to resolve any complex task.
Reverse Block may be discarded to reduce a complex task to a normal task draw. The player must still draw from the tower but only needs to draw one block.
Now I know at first you might read this and be thinking “But this is not more Dreadfull? This makes my life easier in my Dread games”. You would be right on the surface of it all. Yet when you begin to look closer you see that a few other complications begin to creep into the equation.
First, with blocks numbered 1-4 players will likely and wisely opt to attempt to avoid 3’s and 4’s saving these blocks for hard complex tasks. Thus reducing the number of “Go-To” blocks to pull. Even with the benefit that an extraordinarily difficult task of a 4 might only be a one block pull. Yet in the absolute worst case. You might need to make 4 moves to pull that task off!
Secondly, Players will likely be eager to go after Special blocks and it will make them more willing to take risks with the tower. Again adding to the difficulty of tower stability. As well as these blocks are discarded if used. Shrinking the total possible pull count in two ways. Players holding blocks for later use and a growing pile of spent resources in the game.
So what do you think ? Please let me know your thoughts !