Approch to Blokus:
I was shopping for a birthday gift at a big-box toy store, when I came across Blokus and two take offs of it. It was next to Monopoly and the store in general only had games of a similar caliber, so my hopes for a good game where not set too highly.
Normally I like to research a game here at the Geek before I purchase so I can flesh out my expectations of a game better, but this was not one of those times. I took the plunge with a purchase because I needed a game that my wife and I could play with our small childeren (or at least a couple of them at a time with) that would not bore us to tears over.
The rules and direction are very simple with the exception of the point system. My kids are not old enough to understand what negative numbers are, but its been a good introduction for that type of math. The pieces 'seem' a little fragile and I'm worried about one of them snapping from a small knee or fall from the table; fortunatly that hasn't happend.
Begining of Play:
Play starts out from the corners which has both a pro and a con. Firstly, it forces me to consider which pieces played first will offer the most latitude. Latitude here I would define as covering a lot of space towards the opposite corner while maximising opportunities to branch off from.
Secondly, starting from the corners brings several turns before contact with your advarsaries, which honestly can be the slowest part of the game. However, this can be changed by just alternating the start points to somewhere closer to the center. We put four equidistant dots (similar to a Go board) along the 1/3 sections of the board for alternate starting locations.
Once all players have contacted each other the game becomes much more interesting with trying to balance offensive and defensive moves. You need to keep a critical eye out for the best play which causes a bit of analysis paralysis even though the game is quite light.
Offensively, you block your opponents corners that they can play from and try to force them into playing thier ones, two's and three's early in the game. This greatly limits how long they will be able to play in the end game because the small pieces are benefitial to 'leak' through to larger areas where a larger piece may fit.
Defensivly, I try to place my playable points into a way that they cannot or will not get blocked from opponents. This allows me to 'branch' out and keep alternate play options viable.
Here I define the End game as when any of the players have already lost all of thier moves or are about to. By this time in the game you really are trying to maximise your moves and trying to get everything possibly on the board and this is only possible by having some idea of what your opponents are also trying to do.
I was suprised how much I enjoyed the light play of Blokus. It is definatly not a game that will ever replace Go or Chess, but it does have its merits as an abstract strategy game. Often I find myself recognising valuable realestate on its board or the economics of building most productivly.
Even with the small amounts of Analysis paralysis, the game plays quick and is very accessable to adults who generally don't play or enjoy playing games; kids seem to admire it quickly also. This game has a definate place in my game collection but I'm not certain that any of its alternate versions will.