Bottom Line: Blokus is one of those special games being characterized by both a ridiculously easy rule set and incredibly deep and strategic game play. Because of this it appeals to a very wide range of people. It's easy to learn, visually appealing, and quick to play and so appeals to kids and families, who will appreciate how it is different from most of the games they are used to. Serious gamers will find enough strategy to stay engaged with the game for many, many plays. Most of all, this game is just plain fun regardless of your gaming background. There is something that is inherently exciting about trying to fit as many of your pieces on the board as possible. Blokus is simply the best game, by light years, that you will find in your local department store. Go get it.
Components of the game and a sample first round
With Blokus you will get a plastic 20x20 grid, and 84 plastic pieces (21 in each of 4 colors). These pieces are made of 1-5 squares joined together into all possible shapes (i.e. all possible free polyominos of size 5 or less).
How to play Blokus:
Players each take 21 pieces of the same color. Starting in their own corners players take turns placing one piece at a time, ensuring that the following condition holds true: pieces played must touch a previously played piece of that player's color, but only on the corners. It is forbidden for two pieces of the same color to touch along the edges. If a player is unable to play a piece, they pass until the end of the game. The game ends when every player has passed. The player with the fewest squares left over wins.
Pieces of the same color touching only on the corners.
That's it. Really. There are also scoring rules for playing multiple games in a row, but most often I have seen games played as separate contests.
Despite the simple nature of the rules, there is room for much strategy in this game. The game requires a careful balance between offensive and defensive play. To succeed, you need to expand into as much territory as you can, but you can't do it at the cost of letting other players claim too much of "your" territory. Here are a few basic strategy hints:
- Get to the center quickly
- Place the biggest pieces first
- Get into new areas before you are blocked in
- Create areas that can’t be accessed by anyone else and then leave them until the end
- Force people to use their small pieces early in the game to get through your wall
- Carefully position your corners to minimize the opportunities your opponents will have for blocking you and maximize your own opportunities for expansion
- Plan moves ahead and save the appropriate pieces
- Pay attention to what pieces your opponents have left
A game in progress.
Blokus is a game that can be played and enjoyed on any level. Kids and families will enjoy it because it is easy to learn and is fun to play. Parents will especially appreciate the spatial reasoning and logic skills that are developed and improved by this game. One doesn't have to study the strategy of the game in depth to enjoy it. However, for those who wish to there are layers of depth to this game that can be explored over a multitude of plays.
- The rules for 3 players are awkward. It really is best with 2 or 4 players.
- As the name suggests, the game revolves around blocking others access to areas of the grid. It can in fact be played in a very cutthroat manner. If you are seeking a game where there is no potential for feelings to get hurt, possibly look elsewhere. For me, this is one of the reasons I love the game (not the hurt feelings, the cutthroat nature of the game).
Whether the phrase "Game Shelf" brings to mind this:
...Blokus is a fantastic game that you should enjoy.