Blokus: More than Just Tabletop Tetris
It’s easy to mistake Blokus as the board game version of Tetris on appearance alone. It’s full of brightly coloured blocks arranged in varying assortments which must be configured within proper spaces. But Blokus really is its own game and has strategy and gameplay all its own.
While Tetris is about compacting these bricks into tight spaces, Blokus is about spreading them out and conquering territory. Blokus wants you to fence in your opponents while you go traversing around the board. It’s a great game for strategic thinking and aggressive and defensive planning.
Each player has twenty-one pieces, each in a different configuration. They each start in a corner and then begin to spread their pieces out. Here’s the catch: each piece of their colour must be touching the corner of another of their pieces, and also must ONLY be touching the corner. This restricts your options quite a lot.
Winning condition are pretty simple. Every player plays until they have run out of spots for their remaining pieces. They then count up their pieces based on size and lose that many points, so most scores end up being in the negatives. If you manage to get all your pieces on the board you get a bonus 20 points and essentially win the game, just like the flawed golden snitch rule in Quidditch.
So what makes this fun? There is a huge puzzle-solving element to this game with trying to figure out how best to get your large pieces on the board and when to use your small pieces most advantageously. It’s very satisfying when you have just the perfect piece to fit in a spot no one else has paid any attention to.
But the interaction with the other players works well too. How can you best impede their progress without hindering your own? Should you team up with one player to block out another? Good stuff.
Blokus is an abstract game, and as will most abstract games has a pretty basic and boring board. This one is given the most boring of colours also; grey. It’s essentially a grid system with ridges. However, functionally this works great as the pieces fit in their space great and there’s not much worry about them getting bumped and scattered.
The tetris-like pieces are the big component draw here. There are twenty-one configurations made from smaller squares. Each possible configuration is provided with one square up to five squares. They also come in very bright and shiny colours on top of transparent plastic, making them look like Jolly Ranchers. And whenever game pieces look like candy, the more tantalizing they are.
Don’t be fooled; Blokus is not Tetris: The Board Game. It is unique, challenging, and fun. Anyone who loves puzzles will find this a great game to play. Those who enjoy strategic two-player games like Chess will find this to be a different yet slightly familiar experience.
I usually put a lot of focus on the theme of a board game, as theme is very important to my gaming experiences. But occasionally, an abstract game manages to grasp me, and Blokus is one of those. I love finding obscure places to fit my pieces in, and I love blocking off another person’s area and stopping their advance. The components have high functionality and the gameplay is strategic and very enjoyable.