Use your tiles to fill the shared board but be careful – there is not enough room for everyone!
Total Game Time: 20 minutes
Designer(s): Bernard Tavitian
Artist(s): Alan D. Hoch
Publisher: Mattel Games
Blokus is an abstract strategy game that uses a variety of block shaped tiles to fill up the shared board. The tiles within the game are made up out of one, two, three, four, and five blocks. Each configuration of block exists creating some interesting shapes. This game may be light on rules, but it has so many possibilities that it can be played in a variety of ways. While I’ve only had this game for a few weeks, I have already played over 10 times and I am ready to play more.
This is a general overview to provide context for the review, not an in-depth how to play. Some rules may be glossed over or missing.
Blokus is an abstract strategy game that can play two to four players. This game only takes about twenty minutes to play.
While I have played Blokus over ten times, I have only ever played at two players. There are a variety of two player variations including the official 2 player game variant that is included in the rulebook.
This game is incredibly simple with only one action modified by one rule. Every turn you place down a block of your color. That’s it. But the placement rule is what makes it interesting, all pieces you place (besides the first) must touch a corner of a piece of that same color. Your pieces can only touch at corners and nowhere else which severely limits the placement of each tile.
The game ends when no player can place anymore pieces. In the core game, the remaining number of pieces is your score. The player with the lowest number of points is the winner!
Concept: Efficiency versus Strategy
There are two ways to approach this game: moves which use the board space the most efficiently or moves which block other players. While it can be satisfying to place your piece in a space where it fits perfectly, it might not block off your opponent from moving. And if you’re able to prevent others from playing pieces, that’s more points they will have at the end of the game! This game has a delicate balance between finding the most efficient placements while still blocking your opponents.
While the rules have official versions of the game for two, three and four players. There are also unofficial variants as well. Since I have only tested out two player variants, that’s all I will be writing about here.
The Official Two-Player Game
In the official game, each player is given two colors. Either green and yellow or blue and red. Then the game is played according to the four person rules with each player controlling two colors rotating between blue, yellow, red, and green. In this version, just like in the official version, the first piece placed must touch one of the corners on the board. Your final score is the combined total of pieces for both colors.
The Small Board Game
In this game, one color is used to create a smaller board for the players to use and then each player is given only one color. Players starts 5 step toward the center from the corners on opposite sides of the board. This starts the game off with a bang as players are extremely close to each other and can interact with each other very quickly.
The Aggressive Large Game
This variant still has each player use two colors but instead of starting in the corner, they start 5 spaces diagonally toward the center. This allows for quicker interaction in the early game as players are starting within a close vicinity of each other.
Who Will Like it?
This game is fantastic for anyone who likes spatial puzzles or abstract games. It exists in a similar game space as Patchwork or Fresh Fish. The game balances putting the right pieces in the right spots with the spatial puzzle of blocking your opponent.
What I Think
I like this game. I like this game a lot. I have always been in love with polyomino games and this one takes that mechanics down to its very core.
What did I like?
One of the biggest pluses of Blokus is that it is rules simple. There are very few rules to learn and the game takes about a minute to teach. Its core mechanics are elegant but the depth of strategy within this game is insane. You must balance playing larger pieces or smaller ones while making sure there still is enough room left for you to play your own pieces. You can be in a tight situation but one cube (or tile) can help you escape from the wall your opponents have carefully built. The game is incredible clever in design and you can play back to back games without being overwhelmed or underwhelmed.
What didn’t I like?
I can’t really pinpoint anything I don’t like about the game. While I haven’t tried the three-player variant, I am confident I would not be a fan. This game seems best at 2 or 4. That being said, on the small game board variant, you can mimic your opponent to tie the score. However, this might be out maneuverable and you’re still not making the winning play.
There is an argument that the first player has the advantage because, naturally, they will always have the most space available to them on their turns in comparison to the other players. While that hasn’t been too much of an issue with the games I’ve played, there have been online suggestions of the first player only being allowed to place a tile made up of 4 cubes on their first turn.
This game is fantastic for everyone and anyone so long as they are up for spatial puzzles. Because of the simplicity of the rules, this game is easy to teach regardless of their game proficiency. But the depth of the games will keep players interested even if they are drawn to heavier weighted games.
Rulebook/Learning the Game
The rule book itself is four pages and only a half of a page is used to describe the rules of the game. One and a half pages is dedicated to variants and one page is just the cover page (so it’s really only a 3-page rulebook). The rules themselves are simple and straightforward so learning how to play took less than a minute.
Knowing how to play and understanding how to play are two drastically different things. This game is not clear in its strategy, and it felt rather opaque for my first game. As I tried to place my pieces in the most efficient way possible, my opponent was slowly blocking me into a corner. And both of us believed that he had me trapped. But when I placed one of my smaller pieces into his network, I was able to escape the line he had created and reach the free space on the other side. It was an awesome learning experience.
The next few (or dozen) plays really came down to honing in on efficiency versus strategy. I played one game determined to place all my big pieces first only to find I missed several opportunities by being closed minded. In no way is this game solvable because it is player driven so every move can be either predictable or wildly unpredictable.
I love this game. I can’t help it. It has my favorite type of mechanic, an elegant and simple rulebook, and a deep amount of strategy within play which makes me want to play the game over and over. And it’s a short game! You don’t even need that much time to play it. It’s perfect whether playing with friends who also play board games or just as a quick activity to do with the family.
*See my rating scale Here