Blokus (Mattel)

Rating: *****

Type: Strategy

# Players: 2-4

Recommended # Players: 2-4

Time To Play: Up to 1 hour

Summary: Blokus is a simple strategy game that resembles a sort of competitive jigsaw puzzle. Players take turn to place pieces on a grid according to simple rules, with the key mechanic being that the pieces can block each other (hence the name). The object of the game is to be left with as few pieces as possible unplayed at the end of the game. The game is incredibly simple to learn and play, fast, and yet the tactics are complex enough to retain interest over many games. The game comes in 2 player and 2-4 player versions.

Gameplay: Each player in Blokus starts with an identical set of 21 plastic pieces in four colours. The pieces are made up of a varying number of squares arranged in a shape (see illustration). Each piece within a set is unique. Players take turns to place these pieces on a grid, starting in the corners (in the 2-4 player variant), and the continues to place each turn according to a simple set of rules: you must play each piece touching corners with another one of your pieces, and you may not play a piece touching edges with another one of your pieces.

Gameplay revolves around trying to exploit the gaps left in the board by other people’s plays, while blocking other players from doing the same. Each player ends the game when they are unable to put any more pieces down; the game ends when all players have reached that point or run out of pieces. The winner is the player who has the smallest number of squares worth of pieces left over (there is a bonus for putting all your pieces down, and a further bonus if your last piece played is the one-square piece – harder than it sounds, since this piece is extremely useful for getting out of a tight spot).

The above isn’t so much a review as a complete description of the rules. It really is that simple, which means you can pick up Blokus and start playing it inside of 5 minutes if you read fast. Play is fast, but despite the game’s simplicity the tactics have an enjoyable complexity. There is something rather devilish about (effectively) trying to complete a complex jigsaw puzzle while other people build their own jigsaw puzzles around you.

Components: Four sets of 21 plastic pieces and a plastic game board. Simple and sturdy. The game rules are simple and easy to learn. There is also a smaller 2-player version which is portable enough to be used as a travel game to rival travel Scrabble, travel chess and so on.

Author: rabalias

Rabalias grew up wanting to be a pirate. But a band of evil bureaucrats kidnapped him and forced him to work for The Man. Even so, Rabalias was patient and cunning. He escaped by gnawing his way through the walls of his prison and concealing the hole behind a picture of cthulhu. He fled to the coast, and stowed away on the Black Armada, where he worked his way up to the rank of Admiral.

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