It was a gaming Christmas this year. Between my 8 y/o daughter and I, we received about 19-20 games (catching up on lost board gaming time). As I've mentioned in previous reviews, my friend has re-introduced my daughter and I to board games (good board games). After many long years of Monopoly and other classic games I grew up on, we were suddenly introduced to Ticket to Ride and Carcassone to name a few. Before Christmas, I did a little research, found Blokus highly rated and placed my order. We opened it up yesterday and played it as a family. Twice! Which is saying a lot as my wife isn't very big on gaming. In any case, here are my thoughts on Blokus:
Rules and Materials
Unfortunately, this section of my review will be a little lite, as the rule and materials for Blokus are lite as well. This is a good thing in two respects. One you don't have to read me rambling on and two the game is that easy to pick up.
Let's start with the materials. The game comes with one big gray 20x20 board and 4 colored sets of 21 'tiles'. The tiles come in clear blue, red, yellow and green and are shaped like a la "Tetris" pieces. Each piece is a different shape and go from one block up to a number of 5 block designs (this is where the "Tetris" shapes come in). The board and tiles are made of a sturdy plastic. It's not carved from wood or anything, but it's ok.
The rules were one page (not even). I think they were more like 5 lines with a couple of pictures to help explain. I read through them in about 30 seconds, was able to explain them to my wife and 8 y/o daughter in about another 30 seconds and we were playing 30 seconds after that. Elegantly simple.
The game moves pretty quick. Blue starts first and then goes through the rest of the colors after that with green being last. (Not sure why they state this in the rules, I'm pretty sure it doesn't matter which color you start with).
In any case, you start by placing one tile down in a corner. The corner square has to be covered by your tile (i.e., you can't use a piece that would 'cover' the corner, but not the corner tile). Play moves on to the next person and goes around the board until it comes back to you.
All of your subsequently placed tiles can only touch the corners of your pieces (i.e., no side-to-side touches), but can touch side-to-side with the other players' tiles. You can usually lay 4-5 tiles down before you start running into each other, which is where the real challenge and fun starts.
You continue to lay down tiles until all players can no longer lay down any more of their tiles. Once this point is reached, each player counts the blocks in their tiles, adds up the # of "blocks" they have and multiplies it by -1 (e.g., a 5 block tile = -5 points). If you place all of your tiles, you get +15 and if you lay down the 1x1 tile as your last tile you get an additional +5 points.
As I mentioned above, we had a 3 player game going and the board filled up very fast. I haven't played with 1, 2 or 4 yet, but 3 was a nice mix. It wasn't too easy and wasn't too hard (although I did manage to lose both games - 1 to my wife and 1 to my daughter - so maybe it's harder than I think ). The 4 player game must be crazy.
As for playing time, I believe it took us 20-30 mintues/game (which is what the game box says it should take). To be honest with you, I lost track of time when we were playing (was having too much fun). But, it must have been 20-30, as my wife wasn't complaining too much about how long it was taking .
My daughter and wife enjoyed it a lot (my daughter even asked if we could play again tonight). My 8 y/o daugther picked it up fast enough to win the second game (she even told us her strategy for the second game - "I used all of my big pieces first." I may have to try that next time ). So, I'd definitely recommend this for 8 and up. The game itself is rated for 5+, I didn't play with a 5, 6 or 7 y/o so I can't vouch for that.
All in all, I'd defintely recommend Blokus. It's fast. It's easy to learn/teach. It's fun. It's challenging. And you can play it with your kids!