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Subject: Blokus, the blandest strategy game I've played rss

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Sean Carrick
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* EDITED FOR THE PEOPLE WHO SEEM HELL BENT ON MISSING THE POINT OF MY REVIEW *(also to update some type-o's with the rating system)


Blokus is a game that takes polyominos that look nothing at all like the pieces from Tetris, and uses them in a way I do not find fulfilling. However, all I see are reviews praising it, so I felt it was time for someone to speak negatively of it. There are several reviews that encapsulate the rules, so I will skip that part. But, just in case you've never read them, basically, you pick a color, and each turn you place an additional piece that can only touch the corners of your pieces already laid down. It's simple, straightforward, and I'll get to why I find it so lacking in a moment

The pieces:
The bits are nice, transparent plastic. The board looks decent, but feels cheap. Works perfectly, though, so I can't really complain.

The Rulebook
The game is pretty simple, and the book reflects that. It looks good, it's easy to read, and you won't find yourself having to hunt for data. About as perfect as a Rulebook can be

Gameplay

Here is my primary beef with the game. While there can be tension toward the end game, everything leading up to that just does nothing to enthuse me. Play a piece, then place one touching it's corner. Try and spread out as much as possible (giving yourself several corners to work off of), while trying to enclose a section so you'll have a place to put your pieces near the end. Repeat for 2/3rd's of the game. The first part of the game takes too long, and the end is too short for my tastes.

If it started with direct confrontation, instead of building toward it, I might like it more.

On a side not, when I see games that use polyominos that are in NO WAY reminiscent of Tetris, I want to stick them together and see how compact I can make them. One of my favorite Euro's is Princes of Florence. My favorite aspect is that once you get the second builder, you can start trying to get all the buildings together without a single space between them. Maybe I was raised on too many games that use polyominos, but that is one of the more enjoyable aspects of Princes for me.

Blokus doesn't allow me to place my pieces like that for the majority of the game. By only allowing me to touch corners, I have to bypass all the fun interlocking shapes I could be making. As such, I just sit there waiting until the final third when I may be able to interlock with my opponents pieces. But I'd much rather spend the entire game doing that.



Conclusion:

For those that skipped straight to the bottom, so they could find out my final opinion, I'm not a fan of the game as is. I understand that a lot of people find it thought provoking, but it just leaves me flat.

I wish the entire game played like the final third.

Maybe if there was a variant where you tried playing pieces where the sides, instead of the corners had to touch, and you lost points for every gap once all pieces were played. Your opponent could choose to place your pieces instead of theirs on their turn.

That, to me, would be vastly more enjoyable.

The game seems brimming with potential, but they fell short, IMHO. Of course, I could be wrong.
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Joe Niezelski
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So, if I understand you correctly, you're saying Blokus is bad because Blokus is not Tetris?
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Sean Carrick
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DuckAndCower wrote:
So, if I understand you correctly, you're saying Blokus is bad because Blokus is not Tetris?


I'm saying I did not like it because I find the game as included bland. In addition, it's obviously made to be reminiscent of Tetris, but the pieces take too long to reflect Tetris like gameplay.

Again, this is a review, so everything is my personal opinion. If you dig it, as most people do, cool. I was just trying to illustrate what I would prefer to play with the pieces.
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Steve Bachman
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figarojones wrote:
DuckAndCower wrote:
So, if I understand you correctly, you're saying Blokus is bad because Blokus is not Tetris?


I'm saying I did not like it because I find the game as included bland. In addition, it's obviously made to be reminiscent of Tetris, but the pieces take too long to reflect Tetris like gameplay.

Again, this is a review, so everything is my personal opinion. If you dig it, as most people do, cool. I was just trying to illustrate what I would prefer to play with the pieces.

Actually, I don't think the pieces were made to be reminiscent of Tetris at all. In Tetris, all of the pieces have exactly 4 squares. In Blokus, they can have from 1 to 5.

It is not like Tetris at all, so your expectations that it should have been are misplaced. Nonetheless, you found the game that it is to be bland for your taste. I'm sure you are not alone. Everyone has different tastes, so no single game can be everything for everyone.
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Ian B
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Sounds to me like you want to play Tetris, and just because the pieces "look like Tetris" you want Blokus to be Tetris. Blokus is not Tetris...it is a territory-claim game.

You say the game is bland. Beyond you wanting it to be Tetris why is it bland? Is it too simple? For me, the simplicity is the key that allows me to bring this game out at family gatherings (i.e. many non-gamers present) and play with a wide age-range (Grandpa vs kids).

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Sean Carrick
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RockyMountainNavy wrote:
Sounds to me like you want to play Tetris, and just because the pieces "look like Tetris" you want Blokus to be Tetris. Blokus is not Tetris...it is a territory-claim game.

You say the game is bland. Beyond you wanting it to be Tetris why is it bland? Is it too simple? For me, the simplicity is the key that allows me to bring this game out at family gatherings (i.e. many non-gamers present) and play with a wide age-range (Grandpa vs kids).



In my defense, I did also bring up Princes of Florence. I used Tetris as an example because A) Several other Reviews brought up Tetris, & B) Everyone instantly understands that Tetris is about interlocking pieces and leaving no gap (regardless of the number of squares in each piece.

As being bland, while there can be tension toward the end game, everything leading up to that just does nothing to enthuse me. Play a piece, then place one touching it's corner. Try and spread out as much as possible (giving yourself several corners to work off of), while trying to enclose a section so you'll have a place to put your pieces near the end. Repeat for 2/3rd's of the game. I guess the first part of the game takes too long, and the end is too short for my tastes. If it started with direct confrontation, instead of building toward it, I might like it more.
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Ken
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May I pass along my congratulations for your great interdimensional breakthrough. I am sure, in the miserable annals of the Earth, you will be duly enshrined. -- Lord John Whorfin
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figarojones wrote:


The game seems brimming with potential, but they fell short, IMHO. Of course, I could be wrong.


Yep, you are.

I greatly enjoy Blokus, as did everyone I've introduced it to. Maybe you should give it another shot.

(Btw - I'm really having a hard time seeing how you relate this game to Princes of Florence!)
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Sean Carrick
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artfuldodge2 wrote:
figarojones wrote:


The game seems brimming with potential, but they fell short, IMHO. Of course, I could be wrong.


Yep, you are.

I greatly enjoy Blokus, as did everyone I've introduced it to. Maybe you should give it another shot.

(Btw - I'm really having a hard time seeing how you relate this game to Princes of Florence!)


Maybe I will. I've played several games, but maybe one more will change my opinion. This kind of reminds me of Race for the Galaxy or Agricola, where I seem to be the only person who doesn't like them, so there's obviously something wrong with me. Maybe I'm just not a fan of Blokus. I'm not saying anyone is wrong for enjoying them, just that I don't.

And I'm comparing the pieces to the buildings in Princes, and how I would like to have the pieces placed. Gameplay is slightly different between the two outside of that.
 
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Joe Niezelski
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Yeah, sorry about my earlier oversimplification. I think it might be helpful, though, to include the following quote in the review:

figarojones wrote:
As being bland, while there can be tension toward the end game, everything leading up to that just does nothing to enthuse me. Play a piece, then place one touching it's corner. Try and spread out as much as possible (giving yourself several corners to work off of), while trying to enclose a section so you'll have a place to put your pieces near the end. Repeat for 2/3rd's of the game. I guess the first part of the game takes too long, and the end is too short for my tastes. If it started with direct confrontation, instead of building toward it, I might like it more.


I haven't played Blokus, and this did a lot to sway me against it.
 
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David desJardins
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figarojones wrote:
Maybe if there was a variant where you tried playing pieces Tetris style (Where the sides, instead of the corners had to touch), and you lost points for every gap once all pieces were played. Your opponent could choose to place your pieces instead of theirs on their turn. That, too me, would be vastly more enjoyable, and I think that about sums up my issues.


It seems to me that a review should say something about what the game is like, not just what it isn't. Sure, it isn't a game about packing your pieces tightly. I don't think that's really a minus for most people.
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David desJardins
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figarojones wrote:
In addition, it's obviously made to be reminiscent of Tetris


I don't think Blokus is reminiscent of Tetris in any way, nor is it intended to be. Blokus is a game based on polyominos of various sizes. Tetris is a puzzle based on tetrominos (4-polyominos). They have nothing in common except that they both use polyominos, as do hundreds of other games and puzzles.
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David desJardins
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figarojones wrote:
If it started with direct confrontation, instead of building toward it, I might like it more.


Blokus, once the players know what they're doing, has a lot of direct confrontation from the very beginning. By the fourth or fifth tile, players will be making plays that clearly favor or disfavor particular opponents. You can't get more confrontational than that.
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Blorb Plorbst
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I think we're all bozos on this bus.
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http://www.freetetris.org/

You're welcome!
 
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I agree with your review - Blokus is among the dullest of the games I own. I don't see what people rave about.

BORING. I'd rather table just about anything else.

Well put sir.
 
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Russ Williams
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If it didn't grab you, it didn't grab you - fair enough.

But your continual Tetris comparisons and complaints sound about like someone reviewing Chess by saying "It has pawns - just like Parcheesi! I love Parcheesi, and when I see Parcheesi pawns, I want to roll dice and move my pawns around a track. But Chess doesn't let you do that. Chess is obviously inspired by Parcheesi since they have the same pieces, so why did they change how Parcheesi works?"

Blokus also has far more strategy and tactics than you seem to have realized in your several plays while being disappointed that it wasn't Tetris.
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John W
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The title of this review misled me into thinking it was going to go into detail about how bland Blokus is.

Instead, it continually compared Blokus to Tetris.

Therefore, this review is weak because it didn't :
* live up to its promise
* match what I was expecting
* match what the title suggested/implied to me.
 
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Just call me Erik
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I have a different question for you, Sean. I understand the compulsion to play with the pieces is very strong, so I do that on everyone else's turn with the pieces I haven't played yet. Did you try this?

Also, Why does the "as perfect as a rulebook can be" rulebook get 3 stars instead of 5?

iPAUL wrote:
I agree with your review - Blokus is among the dullest of the games I own. I don't see what people rave about.

BORING. I'd rather table just about anything else.

Well put sir.


Why do you still own it then? If I had a game that bored me that much I'd trade it.

I like Blokus, especially the travel version. I also own Gemblo, which may look different enough from Tetris to let you enjoy the game
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Raymond Schalk
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DaviddesJ wrote:
figarojones wrote:
If it started with direct confrontation, instead of building toward it, I might like it more.


Blokus, once the players know what they're doing, has a lot of direct confrontation from the very beginning. By the fourth or fifth tile, players will be making plays that clearly favor or disfavor particular opponents. You can't get more confrontational than that.



This is actually my major dislike for the game. It takes several tiles to just make it to your opponents. I feel like I am just randomly grabbing a tile and placing it for the 1st few moves. I have 3 lame strategies when it comes to this.
1) I just make sure it is a 5 for the first few moves.
2) I get rid of the pieces I usually have trouble with later in the game.
3) I hold on to those special tiles that I am personally good at blocking with.

Does anybody have a strategy for the first few tiles they lay down? Besides what I mentioned above. Do you watch what your opponent does and play something accordingly? if so please give an example of what you would play on your 1st move in response to a certain tile and why. Thanks!
 
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Just call me Erik
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mutilatedlips wrote:
DaviddesJ wrote:
figarojones wrote:
If it started with direct confrontation, instead of building toward it, I might like it more.


Blokus, once the players know what they're doing, has a lot of direct confrontation from the very beginning. By the fourth or fifth tile, players will be making plays that clearly favor or disfavor particular opponents. You can't get more confrontational than that.



This is actually my major dislike for the game. It takes several tiles to just make it to your opponents. I feel like I am just randomly grabbing a tile and placing it for the 1st few moves. I have 3 lame strategies when it comes to this.
1) I just make sure it is a 5 for the first few moves.
2) I get rid of the pieces I usually have trouble with later in the game.
3) I hold on to those special tiles that I am personally good at blocking with.

Does anybody have a strategy for the first few tiles they lay down? Besides what I mentioned above. Do you watch what your opponent does and play something accordingly? if so please give an example of what you would play on your 1st move in response to a certain tile and why. Thanks!


Generally, there are 3 tiles I play at the beginning of the game. They are the 3 5-tiles that traverse 3 diagonal spaces. Why? It gets rid of large tiles at the beginning of the game, and this gets you to the center of the board the fastest. If I notice my opponents playing very timidly, I may play pieces that are hard to place later in the game, like the plus or that funky weird one.
 
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Raymond Schalk
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Generally, there are 3 tiles I play at the beginning of the game. They are the 3 5-tiles that traverse 3 diagonal spaces. Why? It gets rid of large tiles at the beginning of the game, and this gets you to the center of the board the fastest. If I notice my opponents playing very timidly, I may play pieces that are hard to place later in the game, like the plus or that funky weird one. [/q]

Cool, Thanks for the tip!
 
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Eric Johnson
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figarojones wrote:

Blokus is a game that takes polyominos that look nothing at all like the pieces from Tetris, and uses them in a way I do not find fulfilling. However, all I see are reviews praising it, so I felt it was time for someone to speak negatively of it.


Dear Sean,
Thank you for providing a contrarian view on this game. I enjoyed reading your reasons for dissatisfaction with the game -- another perspective is always useful.

Based on your review and other independent investigation, I don't think I'll put Blokus on my want list.

Kudos for having the courage to express an unpopular opinion.

Cheers,
Eric
 
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Brian Newman
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If you are only forcing other players to make strategic decisions in endgame, then you're missing a huge part of the play possibilities in forcing other players in certain directions or toward certain eventual (or, with your help, necessary) plays.

If you think that's bland, okay, but that makes about 2/3 of the games in this database bland.
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I don't agree about the lack of interaction for most of the games; I typically rush towards the center of the board, there's pretty heavy interaction between the players by turn 4. If we were playing to try and avoid our opponents while trying to maximize our pieces played, I can see where it would feel pretty boring.

As for the Tetris comparisons, I'll agree with the others here that it's a bit like damning a cheeseburger for not being a steak. That said, if you don't like the game take part in the next Math Trade and get rid of it. Send Blokus to a good home and pick up a game you're interested in.

Edit: I see you've already rid yourself of the game. Hopefully you traded it for something you enjoy.
 
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