Jabuka Review – A New Twist On Classic Word Games

If you have played a game of Scrabble, you will probably feel at home with Jabuka, a fast/simultaneous word game for all ages.

Jabuka aims to bring something familiar yet different to pun fans.

What’s in the bag?

The first thing you might notice Jabuka is how unique the game is. All letter tiles are packed in a burlap bag. This matches the cafe theme of the game perfectly.

Continuing the theme, the letter tiles themselves are shaped like small coffee beans.

And while the theme of the game is very strong, it’s not just about coffee. Jubuka is also an eco-friendly game as the components are made from 100% recycled wood. So not only does the game look great, but it’s also an environmentally friendly product.


How do you play it?

Jabuka is a pun in the same vein as Scrabble. Players must use the word tiles to spell words and score points.

A game begins with each player taking one of the blank bean tiles. These special tiles can represent any letter and act as a sort of joker.

The rest of the letter tiles are placed in the bag, shaken and then knocked over on the table (or playing area). Some tiles will land face up and others face down.

There are no turns in Jabuka, instead, players take turns simultaneously. Players shout the words they can spell using the visible letters, then type those letters.

If they are unable to combine the visible tiles into coherent words, then they shout “flip”. After all players have shouted “flip”, each player then flips one of the tiles face down. This continues until the last tile is flipped over and a final word is created.

If you think this sounds easy, there are a few complications.

First, most bean tiles are twistable. This means that a letter that looks like a “d” can be twisted to form a “p”, or a “t” can be twisted to be an “x”. It’s an interesting mechanic that forces players to look at tiles in different ways, allowing them to think outside the box.

The second catch is that your teammates can steal your tiles.

If a player is able to create a word using all of another player’s words, then that player can steal those tiles. This counts even if you have to twist and turn their tiles to create the new word. This means you’re never quite sure how many complete words you’ll get, and it adds a bit of tension.

Scoring is done by counting the number of tiles a player has. Each word tile counts as one point.


What did we think of Jabuka?

Jabuka is a word game that wants to be different. Whether it’s the eco-friendly components or the ability to twist and turn the letters to change them, Jabuka don’t hesitate to be unique.

Sure, rounds can escalate into mayhem as players continually grab, scream, and twist, but there’s something enjoyable about that kind of mayhem.

Some might like the more stereotypical turn-based mechanics of word games such as Scrabble. For these players, Jubuka maybe a little too chaotic.

My wife immediately knew when the kids and I were playing Jabuka as the house echoed with laughter and shouting. It’s definitely not a leisurely game and so my kids loved every bit of it.

Globally, Jabuka try to do two things. One is to be a nice and loud pun. The second is a way to teach young players to think outside the box. In both of these aspects, the game succeeds.

For more information on Jabuka, visit solarpop.co.za. Games sell for around R250 locally.

The article



  • Easy to learn
  • Great teaching aid
  • Forces you to learn out of the box


  • Maybe too chaotic for some

Breakdown of reviews

  • Gameplay
  • Components
  • Complexity vs Depth
  • Theme

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