Sunday, June 26, 2011

The Gaming Corner: Blokus

One of the many things Jess and I do to pass the time is play games. We enjoy playing a multitude of them, some that everyone knows, and others (like the one being referencing today) that most have not. In Blokus, each player plays using one or two sets of colored tiles (in the 2 player game each player plays 2 colors, in the 3 player game each player plays 1 color, but then takes turn playing the fourth color, and in the 4 player game, each player obviously only plays one color).

Each set of tiles has 21 pieces made of 1 to 5 squares as seen in the following picture.

Turns alternate placing one tile of each color you are responsible for on the board on each of your turns. Other than the first piece you play, which must be in your corner, each tile must have at least one corner touching a corner of another tile of its color. Also, when placing tiles, they cannot touch sides of any other tiles of their color already on the board.

This is what properly played pieces will look like. Jess is playing green and red, while I am playing yellow and blue, and 5 turns have been completed. 

For a demonstration of misplaced pieces, see below. If the horizontal piece was moved down 2 rows or up 3 rows, then it would have been properly played.

The game sounds crazy simple to you, doesn't it? Well, that is because it is. But once you play a game or two, you realize that it also isn't. It's a thinker that demands strategy if you want to win for any reason other than luck. And if you keep playing it, you will find yourself developing strategies on the best way to play all your pieces, or how to block the other player. 

When we started, Jess would tell me that I was playing meanly whenever I would block off some of her pieces from being played off of, but now she is better at blocking me than I ever was at blocking her. Though she still tells me that I am mean when I block her pieces - go figure! With such a simple concept, many would think that the game would get boring quickly, but they are wrong. No matter how many times we play, we keep wanting to, earning this game a permanent spot on our shelf.

This is what a completed game looks like. As you can see, there are alot of pieces left over and that is how you decide who wins. Scoring is easy. If you play all your pieces, you get 15 points, and if the last piece you play is the 1x1 square, you get an additional 5 points. If you didn't play all your pieces, you count all the squares making up the tiles you didn't play and you lose that many points. Whomever has the most points wins. The game above was scored as Jess: -17 (green and red) to Jason: -25 (yellow and blue).

Blokus is made by Mattel and can be purchased at your local Target or other large general merchandise store. It is rated for ages 5+, and due to the small size of some of the tiles, the game should be kept away from extra small children.

-Gamer Jason

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