I might have never noticed Janky Blades if it hadn’t been designed by Robin Gibson. However, their track record on Print-and-Play Roll-and-Write games has been solid for me so Janky Blades got printed out.
The theme of the game is that you are drawing a jagged sword with many different grains, indicating the artisan craft put into its creation. The reality is that you are drawing shapes on a six by eighteen grid.
Gameplay is simple. Each turn, roll three dice. One die will determine the column you are drawing a shape in. One die will determine the grain of the shape. And the last die determines the shape you are drawing.
The game last thirty turns. After you are done, you score the shapes that are contiguously connected to the handle at the bottom of the board. Each shape earns one point for every adjacent shape that has a different grain. And if you completely enclosed an empty space, it counts as a shape with its own grain.
Janky Blades is billed as a solitaire game but I don’t see any reason why you couldn’t play it as a multiplayer game Take It Easy style. There isn’t a dice manipulation mechanic and the decision tree is wide enough that you won’t end up with identical janky swords.
Janky Blades has two touches that I found interesting. First of all, as opposed to the Tetris shapes I’m used to using in a draw-shapes-on-a-grid, it uses more pointy shapes, triangles and rhombuses and the like. I wouldn’t be surprised if Tangram puzzles featured in the development. I also like how negative space can become a part of the blade.
Those two elements made Janky Blades better than I was expecting. Because, quite frankly, I was expecting a completely forgettable game who’s best feature would be drawing a pretty picture . Instead, I found the decisions actually interesting.
Ultimately, though, I have to damn Janky Blades with faint praise. It isn’t bad but there are a lot of Roll-and-Write games I’d rather play, a number of them also by Robin Jarvis.