Saturday, July 23, 2016

My favorite Blokuses

In earlier blog, I wrote that I consider Blokus to be an important game. It's a simple abstract with deep choices that's had real mainstream success. I think it's a game that will still be played twenty years from now. However, I also wrote that I prefer Blokus Trigon and Travel Blokus to the original. So much that they are still in my collection and the original is not.

In the original game, each color starts out in the corners and work their way towards the center. It takes a few turns for any kind of conflict to get going. And you have to use all four colors. Otherwise, there will be too much open space. In two players games, each player uses two colors. With three players, you take turns playing with the neutral color. Or, better yet, don't play three players.

Travel Blokus or Blokus Duo solves these issues by being strictly for two players and having the starting positions near the center of the board. Instead of a leisurely series of opening moves, you get a knife fight from the start. And the smaller board makes that knife fight happen in the proverbial phone booth. It's a much tighter, more ruthless game than its parent.

When I first saw Blokus Trigon with its hexagonal board and pieces made of triangles instead of squares, I thought it was just a gimick. It took me literally one play to completely revise that opinion.

Like Travel Blokus, the starting positions are close to the center, allowing conflict right at the start. And there are multiple starting positions, adding to replay values. 

The triangular shapes create more porous barriers than the square shapes in the other Blokus games. This makes blocking harder but it also makes for more interesting plays.

But the real treat of Blokus Trigon is that it is a really strong three-player game. With three players, you don't use the outer ring of spaces. That's all it takes to create a claustrophobic playing area. Blokus Trigon doesn't just play three players. It is the one of the strongest three-player abstracts I have found.

I think that, for the world in general, Blokus is important for being a modern classic. But for folks like me who already liked a abstracts, it's important for being creating a model that helped create even better games.

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