I have a lot of opinions about this game which considering I've only played once should probably be impressive. Ordinarily I know myself and games well enough that I can be comfortable in my conclusions off one or two plays. But there's a lot of things in this game that I think might change for better upon repeat plays and getting into the meat of the real game. So with that in mind I give my thoughts on the game overall.
I had the opportunity to join a release event
Bloc by Bloc is a game I remembered by it's logo but I didn't back it and honestly I'm not sure I even checked out the page. Call it an exercise in self control. I'm working on being more frugal. Heck I still haven't played my official copy of Chaosmos (pure PnP baby).
Thematically there's lot to enjoy about the game. The theme is compelling and unique. The art direction really helps that. It simplifies the reality of the movements without taking away from them. That said I had the name "Bloc by Bloc" I hate the word "Bloc" in every incarnation of the game. Now this is a minor nit-pick and honestly to the game's credit they manage to make it very consistent in their usage and that helps A LOT in making it easier to understand.
The components are pretty bare bones: Plain cubes, sticks, regular D6s, and a police van that is sans sticky or paint or engravings. The theme and art direction make it easier to swallow but it would be so much nice with meeples and custom dice (would make it easier to do a lot of calculations).
Live by the gameplay, die by the gameplay
The meat and potatoes of the game however is the gameplay. First off I left the game satisfied. It was over two hours later (which is fair for a first game) but I was happy with the experience. There are however a number of things that fight against the entertainment value of the game. First and foremost is the rulebook. I swear I didn't see any mention of the Reaction Die in the rule book and if it's there it is not where it should be (which is next to the attack section which is where it takes place). It IS however in the player aid which was actually quite nice. It's a lovely player aid that I would rate maybe 8/10 because it could be fixed with a few touches that would highlight which side notes are linked to which main actions. Some colors or symbols could do wonders for this game. Heck in the rulebook more symbols for the various actions would be awesome.
There are a lot of bloody ambiguities in the card text. I was able to make sense of a lot of them but the other players would often be lost in the gaps that the cards weren't 100% clear on. I've read the five previous reviews. I've dug though the forums. I think it's more than just first game jitters. Fist game jitters are why we kept forgetting the reaction die or movement rules. Those were all there but we'd have to look them up to remember them. There are cards with text so simple it's not clear whether they're super awesome and near game breaking or just ok.
Last and not least I don't like the movement. There are so many movement options, that movement is rarely an issue. Thus negating the idea of needing to do anything about movement. We just always went were we wanted. It's just too free to be fun. It feels pointless. You find yourself asking "Wait why did I memorize all these movement rules if they never come up or are an issue. For most of the game we forgot about the subways because it never came up. We were never street blocked. There was never a benefit or value to going on subway vs street.
How I would be different
In a perfect world I'd like to fix a bunch of aspects of the game. It's for the most part unfair of me to suggest that because I haven't played any of the scenarios all of which have great descriptions. I'd defriendly the game a little bit to make them people (but I concede it's more marketable with cubes). I'd patch up the rulebook. I'd tighten up the card text. I'd remove the mechanic of having cards under tiles that get revealed. Like Secret Hitler's Passport package it's too much
This is too much to give a single person. Just do it like The Resistance and have a community "Good/Bad" card set. You don't need more than one. All you need to give someone in Secret Hitler are their vote cards and a secret role that's it. It's my biggest pet peeve for that game. Actually second. Biggest is the designer suggesting he designed it (in part) to fix issues with The Resistance that a) weren't issues and b) weren't fixed
There's literally no reason it can't just be a deck of cards you draw from. It's mildly thematic but it doesn't add in my opinion enough to be worth the hassle of getting the cards from under the district tiles. I'd work with the movement mechanic to make it interesting. Maybe limited movement spaces and subways give you shortcuts. Maybe a way to move through cops if you have a large enough mob thus giving an incentive to move a mob vs a single bloc. This could introduce new obstacles that are not just cops. I'd work with the enemy movements because they were very much concentrating around the police stations to the point where moving anywhere else was zero risk because every other card moves them back to their precious stations. The vans were almost never an issue. I'm willing to concede that as the game's goal is to occupy the cop's "home base" it's not a horrible choice but it needs to be more.
As I started this review I did enjoy the game. I had a good time. I left not dissatisfied. There are a lot of issues with the game but there's a great game with a compelling them and once again great art direction. It just needs to go further. Or needs to cook a little longer. I look forward to playing it again and even more I'd like to see what they could do with an expansion or a sequel. There's a lot of room to grow with this game and while this game can feed me it's not something I would feast upon. Give me that game.
If I had to drop a number I'd give it a 6/10, just above average. I'd like to highlight once again that I've only played the game one time. I would gladly play it again there is a club on campus who has a copy of the game and if someone brings it to my club. I have no problem trying it out again. I look forward to it.