A to Z Gaming: Blokus and Blokus Duo

The next games on our shelf were Blokus and Blokus Duo. Given that they are just two implementations of the same game (and they’re quick to play), we decided to do them one after another.

Basic Info: Blokus
Players: 2-4
Time: 20 Minutes
Designer:Bernard Tavitian
Artist: Alan D. Hoch
Publisher:  Educational Insights (our copy)

 

Basic Info: Blokus Duo
Players: 2
Time: 15 Minutes
Designer:Bernard Tavitian
Artist: Alan D. Hoch
Publisher:  Educational Insights (our copy)

 

In both Blokus and Blokus Duo, the game play and goals are the same. Each player has a set of polyomino pieces (i.e. Tetris-like pieces) that they are laying on board.

The goal is to play all of the pieces following the one placement rule – each piece must touch one of your previously-placed pieces by only a corner, and no same-colored sides can match. In Blockus, the first piece must be played in a corner, and in Blockus Duo, there are two marks on the board representing a place that each player must cover with their first piece.

At the end of the game, a player scores 15 points if they have played all of your pieces, a bonus of 5 points if the last piece is the smallest (1×1 square) piece. If they haven’t played all of their pieces, the score is -1 point for each square on the left-over pieces.

In the 2-player version of Blokus, each player plays two colors, alternating between them and following the placement rules for each color. The board for Blokus Duo is much smaller than the Blokus board – in part because the board was intended to be travel-sized, but also because there are only two players placing tiles.

Blockus is one of the first games we bought – sometime in the early 2000s. We snapped up Blokus Duo soon after, since we wanted some travel games. Both versions play very quickly – with each game being completed in 15-20 minutes or less. As an abstract game, it’s not something we pull out very often – I’m more often drawn to our newer, flashier, more-thematic games. However, I do love the spatial-packing aspect of Blokus – it scratches my Tetris itch.

We always comment how pretty the game is – the polyomino pieces are translucent and reflect the light like jewels on the board. I think this game is on par with Sagrada for the look of the final board.

It is also very satisfying to place the pieces. The board has raised lines for each square while the pieces have indents tracing each square, so when you place a piece, it snaps into the board.

As a 2-player game, I think we both preferred the Duo version. That’s maybe not too hard to understand – it is designed as a 2-player game. In the full game, where we are each playing two colors, I just found it distracting to switch between my two colors, trying to remember what blue strategy I had been thinking before I had to go play a red piece.

All in all, though, a satisfying, quick-playing abstract game that scratches the 2-D packing itch.

How is it as a 2-player game?

Blokus is okay as a 2-player game. I’m not a huge fan of the “play two players” mechanism for competitive 2-player versions of games. I would prefer to play this at a higher player count.

Blokus Duo is great as a 2-player game. The smaller board and alternate starting position (compared to Blokus) mean that you will be interacting with the other player’s pieces quickly, and add early interest to the game.

How about the art and component quality? The components are great. As I mentioned above, we always comment on how pretty the game is. The pieces are a nice weight and fit neatly into the board. We’ve had these games a long time, and have place the Duo version many, many times, and the pieces have held up.

Will this stay in my collection? Blokus Duo will definitely stay in our collection. I’m less sure about Blokus – in part because I don’t see it coming out much at our game nights, and in part because the box is too big to fit in the cube-shelves that we have. Maybe we’ll pull it out at a game night soon, and see if we like it at higher player counts.

 

 

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