Spending so much time with my kids, I love activities and games that we can play together where we’re on an even footing, or will at least all enjoy equally. After reading Jonathan Liu’s review of Pajaggle over at GeekDad, I knew I had found something special. (Of course, I tend to like about 90% of what Jonathan likes, so that was also an indicator.)
The idea behind Pajaggle is that it is both a game and a puzzle. The board and pieces are made of high quality plastic, and each piece only fits in one spot on the board. Many of the pieces look very similar, but are only slightly different. Also, some are double pieces, fitting one inside the other, which can trick you.
When you think of plastic, you usually think of the cheap-o plastic that toys are made of, the same toys that used to be made of wood 25 to 30 years ago and more. But Pajaggle pieces are a joy to hold. They feel cool and nice in your hands. The visual and tactile experience you get is pleasing in a way that you don’t get with most toys these days.
The Pajaggle people hit the nail on the head with the description of the game/puzzle as “fun, curiously addictive, inclusive, and challenging.” We found all of those to be true. You find yourself wanting to go back and putting them together, again and again. The more you play, the more you want to play. And since you can play by yourself or with a group of people, playing Pajaggle is always an option.
There is no learning curve with Pajaggle. Sit anyone (age 3 and up), from anywhere, speaking any language, in front of a board with a pile of pieces and they’ll know what to do. As you play, you’ll learn the many different kinds of pieces, and how a few of them are almost identical, but not quite. This memory will serve you well the next time you play, hopefully giving you a jump on your competition, if you’re playing against someone.
Despite the many pieces to Pajaggle, it is very portable because each board comes with a little black pouch to hold the pieces (they don’t really stay in the board when it’s flipped over) and a drawstring backpack to hold everything together. Along with the pieces, pouch, board, and backpack, you also get a timer and a white, weighty, microfiber “throw” which is for putting the pieces on when you’re playing so they don’t slide around the table. You also get some directions to play a variety of games by yourself and with others, but we found that the more we play, the more games of our own we think up.
Like with most puzzles, the more often you do these puzzles the easier they are. You get to know what pieces there are, how many of each type and what size, which little ones are the inner pieces, etc. So after a while, it is nice to have more than one board, which adds to the fun.
When we first got the Pajaggle boards, we played with them as straight puzzles for a while. Then recently, we finally tried some games. We played what I thought was a game I made up, but it turns out the Pajaggle people thought of it first, calling it Hand Wars. To play, you use one board and two sets of pieces. Each player tries to get as many of their pieces in the board as possible. The winner has the most of their color in. I won this, playing against a team of both of my kids.
We also played a game that doesn’t match up with any of the included suggestions. Take two boards, one for each person or team, and mix up all the pieces in the middle. Take pieces of either color to fill your board. The first to fill your board wins. The kids’ team won this one.
Pajaggle boards cost $29.99 and come in an extensive choice of colors. Be aware that some of the combinations include clear pieces, or a clear board, which make playing with them much more difficult. Pajaggle is great fun, but also has many educational benefits which are detailed on their website.
Pajaggle also makes Pajaggle Sport, which is made of high-density foam with much larger pieces. It is played on the ground and is great for large groups of kids and/or adults. The games that are played with Pajaggle Sport are physical, really getting everyone moving.
Note: I was given a discount on the Pajaggle boards for this review, but I did pay for them.