Wednesday, August 02, 2006

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I’ll be the first to admit it’s been absolutely ages since I last picked up a board game. It’s not for want of trying, I’ve been up and down the halls in Toys ‘R Us several times the past few months and have always come home empty handed. So are we all doomed to just play new editions of Monopoly and Scrabble for the rest of our lives? That’s what I thought, at least until Blokus arrived from Green Board Games.

Now let me explain how the game works. Imagine you own a crazy-paving company and are competing with another crazy-paving company. Each of the tiles you put down have to be connected diagonally and your goal is to put down all your tiles before your rivals. The problem is tiles come in different sizes and because your tiles can only touch diagonally you’ll soon find the board becomes pretty cramped and you run out of options. What follows is a 20-30 minute game of sneaking pieces around your opponents and generally trying to use every nook and cranny of the board to lay down tiles.

Most of the games I played ended without a single player able to place all their pieces. In which case points are deducted for left over pieces and the person with the least points loses. So do you get rid of all your big pieces first and risk being unable to use them in gaps later? It’s a game that becomes easier with practice but mastering it seems impossible as each game is always a little bit different. Half the time the pieces you had at the end of a game one time, become the most essential pieces next time round. Oh, and don’t be surprised if people try and snap pieces to smaller sizes so they can fit on the board, the thought crossed my mind at least several times….

There’s no denying the game’s addictive qualities. I started playing the game with my girlfriend Marie early on a Saturday morning and ended up stopping around teatime. Every time we finished a game we’d learnt some new tricks that we had to try out the next time. Because the game’s so simple and quick to play it’s easy to come back for another go over and over again.

The game’s great fun with 2 players and it can also be played with 4 players where you split in to two teams with two colours each. The goal of laying down all your tiles still remains. If you fancy a go by yourself that’s also possible, your goal this time being to lay down all the tiles from corner to corner, without leaving a single exposed square on the board. It seems simple but it’s probably the hardest jigsaw puzzle you’ve ever seen. In the end we couldn’t hack it so this happened:

With this and parent’s favourite Cranium it seems the board game lull is finally coming to an end. We may all have our favourites from 10 years ago but it’s time for some new stars to appear and Blokus is one of them.

Click here to view Blokus at

Read more on Blokus:

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