Happy December everybody! The holiday season has officially begun. Before all of you get too far into your shopping, I felt it would be much needed if I took an old business detour. Two weeks ago, I wrote an article (this one) recommending Blokus: a 4-player strategy game of which I stand to be a quintessential breakthrough in 4-player strategy games, and a perfect gift for all social gatherings. So, any of you tried it yet? Having problems taking on the more experienced players? Always remember, it’s best to place your 5-square pieces on the board first, because further down the road, they will be the hardest to place toward the end when the board becomes filled up.
Of course you may have also come to another problem. Only immediately after completing my review did I realize that there are several different versions of the game now available. To make sure no one gets confused during their search for the perfect gift, I’m here to give a run down of all the spin-off’s that the Classic Blokus has inspired since its release.
This Retrospective will act as a sequel to The Classic Blokus Retrospective. If you have not yet read that one, please do so.
Also known as “Travel Blokus”, Blokus Duo is a more personal, head-to-head take on the game. The basic rules are very similar to Blokus: Both players alternate turns placing their pieces on the board, advancing by touching the corners of their pervious pieces, until there is no more space for either of them to advance. Player with the most squares covered in their color at the end wins.
There are two main differences. First, to accommodate 2 players instead of 4, the board is smaller and has less space, shrinking from a 20×20 square grid to 14×14. Second, instead of starting at opposite corners as one familiar with the original might assume, Blokus Duo has two specifically marked squares near the center of the board in which both orange and purple players must place their beginning pieces. This is good, because it enforces confrontation right away without a lot of chance to play it safe or build up a defense. Unlike two players who would just start at opposite corners nowhere near each other, it’s less likely to become a stale mate.
Personally, Blokus Duo is a grey area for me. While on one hand, I understand it’s easier to find one friend to play with than three, and that it’s also travel size and can be taken anywhere, both of which make it more accessible. Yet at the same time, it’s like playing a one-on-one game of Super Smash Bros: while it may be compelling and competitive for hard core players, half the appeal is gone when the fun and chaos of four people fighting amongst each other all at once isn’t there.
The most unique thing about Blokus Trigon is how it looks. Instead of a Square grid, the board is a Hexagon-shaped triangle grid that looks more similar to Chinese checkers, and the pieces you play with look like shattered pieces of the triforce. That’s all that’s really different.
The game starts exactly like Blokus Duo with four players each starting on one of four designated marked spaces near the center, and then for the rest of the game it plays exactly like Classic Blokus. While I will not deny that this is a unique way to change the game up, I can’t help but thinking why they didn’t take advantage of the concept and change it up a little more. They could have easily made the board slightly bigger and turned Blokus Trigon into a 6-player game. Yeah that would make it even more difficult to get a full game started, but seeing as the board was already a hexagon, wouldn’t that have made more sense? Maybe the game would be too chaotic then? If it aint broke, don’t fix it I guess.
Imagine Blokus Classic is Super Mario Bros. 3 for the NES. Blokus Duo would be Super Mario Bros on Gameboy (a shorter simplified version that can be played on the go), Blokus Trigon would be Super Mario World for the SNES (an almost completely identical game, just with different graphics), then Blokus 3D would be Super Mario 64. What I mean by this is that Blokus 3D, of all the iterations, feels the most like its own unique game.
The rules take a little longer to explain, yet are still simple enough to figure out once you’ve played through it. In all the previous games, the main objective was to place as much of your colored pieces on the board as possible, whereas in 3D, the main objective is to place as much of your colored pieces on the board that are visible from the top view of the structure. This is done by using a set of three-dimensional pieces that, this time, must advance while staying in contact with their respected color. The players predetermine what structure they will be building up to prior to beginning the game. Choices include either a tower, wall, staircase, or pyramid. Once all players have placed as much of their pieces possible within the compound of their structure, they count how many pieces of their color are visible from the top, minus any pieces they didn’t play. Player with the most points wins.
So there you have it. Four ways to experience the strategy game that, with your help, can define the future of strategy games, and I mean future quite literally. Seriously, even when you look at Blokus and see its square battleship-esque grid and polygonal shaped pieces with their bright see-through colors, it aspires a very futuristic almost sci-fi image. Imagine that fifty years in the future, myself and every other old person will gather around a park to play Blokus while reminiscing about the good old days when video games had controllers, Elijah Wood had an acting career, and America didn’t get bought out by China.
Want more articles on board games? Check these out: