Jabuka: A Word Game of Rotating Letters | Casual Game Revolution

Jabuka: A Word Game of Rotating Letters


Packed into one small bag, Jabuka is a word game of rotating letter tiles and word stealing.

Race against your opponents to create as many words as you can from the tiles on the table, rotating some of them to form different letters. But once you’ve created a word, watch out! Another player might just swipe it out from under you.


The coffee bean-shaped letter tiles are poured onto the table. Any that come out face-down are left as such. Each player also starts the game with two light-colored blank tiles that can be used to represent any letter when creating words. The letter tiles come in two different colors: yellow and white. White tiles are standard letters that may only represent a single letter. Yellow tiles, however, may be rotated to represent multiple different letters. For example, a letter might look like a C one way, an N another, and a U a third way. Some of the yellow tiles even have two letters that can be rotated to show as different combinations, such as "pu" and "nd".

Jabuka does not have turns. Players scan the visible letters in an attempt to find a word they can create. When you have one, you first shout out the word, grab the tiles for it, and then form the word, moving the new word in front of yourself. You can also steal a word from an opposing player if you can change it by rotating a letter tile, adding a letter to it, and/or rearranging some of the tiles. You must shout out the new word before taking the tiles. When stealing a word, you can never change the word back to something it has already previously been.

At any time, players can all agree to flip over two face-down tiles. After the last tiles have been flipped, the first player to make a word shouts "Jabuka!" and the game ends. Players then count up all the beans in their words and the player with the most beans wins.

Jabuka Components


The rotating word tiles of Jabuka are clever, and add a new puzzle element to the word game genre. You’re racing to take in all the tiles at your disposal and the words already formed on the table, while also rotating the yellow tiles in your head, looking for different possibilities. The letter combo tiles can be particularly tricky, which adds a fun challenge to the game.

Being able to steal words from your opponents also adds a bit of a catch-up mechanism to the gameplay. Another player may be able to come up with words faster than you, but you can steal them right out from under them.

Gameplay can be a little chaotic, and it can be hard to track things such as what versions a word has already gone through and therefore can’t be repeated. Also, since all players have to agree before flipping new tiles, you could end up waiting a while on another player.

Jabuka comes in a nice, easy to carry pouch, making it quite a portable game. We liked the coffee bean design on the backs of the tiles, and the letters are quite clear to read. However, we would have liked the yellow of the rotatable tiles to be a bit more vivid and easy to take in at a glance.

If you enjoy word games, Jabuka brings something a little new to the table, is light and easy to pack, and is easy on rules.

Pros: Fast, minimal rules, portable, unique tile design

Cons: Yellow on tiles could be a little more vivid, hard to track some of the information

Disclosure: we received a complimentary review copy of this game.