A Game and a Game and…

Blokus has one of my favorite qualities in a game: the rules are simple, the decisions less so. I played it yesterday for the first time in years, with my almost-six daughter, her similarly-aged friend, and my three-year-old son.

Well, Max, didn’t make all his own decisions. When his turn came round, he chose one of the pieces in his color, and I chose where on the board to place it. Yesterday was a landmark in his game-playing development in that he seemed to understand and respect the concept of waiting for one’s turn.

So what do you do on your turn? You place one of your pieces on the board so that it touches one of your previously-played pieces at one or more corners. It may not touch another of your pieces along an edge. It may touch another player’s piece. You start the game by placing one of your pieces in an empty corner of the square board.

The game ends for you when you cannot legally place any of your pieces. The game ends altogether when no player can play. The aim is to get all your pieces onto the board. Failing that, you do well to be left with only a few small pieces unplayed.

The photos show a four-player game going from first moves to what I’d consider the end of the opening (or the start of the middle game, as the players meet in the middle of the board) to game end. They show how colorful and attractive the board becomes as the game develops. The visual appeal, along with the simple rules, makes this a good kid/family game.

If, after reading the above, you’re interested in buying Blokus or games like it, you have several broad options. One is to buy it from an online game store. I think I bought my copy from Funagain, where Blokus is currently on sale for $20.

I’m glad to say that Blokus and games like it are more widely played and sold than they were when I was doing a lot of game-buying. New online game stores, such as GameSurplus, have sprung up.

I should apologize for my parochial bias in linking only to USA-based sites. But instead I’ll become yet more parochial in linking to a few stores near Roslindale (and hence near Maddie’s friend Hannah). Eureka! is a good puzzle and game store in Brookline. Near Eureka in Coolidge Corner is the toy store Magic Beans, and nearer to us, in Jamaica Plain, is the toy store Boing! I think I’ve seen Blokus in each of them, although I’m more sure about Beans than about Boing.

Then, to return to online retail, there’s always Amazon. The selection of games there is a lot better than I’d have expected (and found) a few years ago. Amazon even has a video promoting Blokus.

Blokus is an example of a game that’s been successful, and has been part of the wider increase in interest in board games. That wider change is worth a post of its own, and will probably get one soon. But right now, I’ll remain specific to Blokus, and remark that there’s a series of Blokus games.

There’s the smaller version, called Blokus Travel or Blokus Duo depending on the edition. (It’s currently available at Eureka! and at the online retailers mentioned above.) There’s Blokus Trigon, and… but you can go to the official Blokus website and find out more.

In closing, Blokus is excellent as a family game, or as a light filler for groups who usually lean toward heavier games. The basic game strikes me as best with its maximum number of 4 players, but I’ve heard positive reports of it for fewer.

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