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Blokus

Blokus is an abstract strategy board game for two to four players, invented by Bernard Tavitian and published in 2000 by the Sekkoia company. It has won several awards, including the Mensa select award and the 2004 Teacher's Choice Award. Tavitian, an engineer and artist was inspired to create the game while trying to find an appropriate frame for a painting of an orchestra made up of geometric figures.

The correct pronunciation of the name "Blokus" has been the subject of some debate. The game's inventor is French, and implies that a French pronunciation may differ, but he referred the question to game's US distributor, who responded: ""We pronounce it with a "soft o" as in "block." But many customers seem to pronounce it with a "long o" as in "Blow-kus."."

Gameplay

The goal is to get rid of all of the 21 pieces you initially start off with. The pieces are all the free polyominoes with at most 5 squares (i.e, rotations and reflections don't count). On each player's turn, they can put one of their remaining pieces on the board. The rules for where you can put your pieces are very simple: Two pieces of your color are not allowed to share any side; i.e., they cannot touch each other along any side. However, they must be connected at one or more corners.

The novice typically tries to seal off an area for themself to reduce the area the opponents can access. But since pieces only are connected via their corners, another player can pass through that corner from the mirrored direction. It is therefore difficult to cut off other people from accessing 'your' area. Instead, the successful tactic is to try to expand into as many areas on the board as possible. In other words, game strategy is dominated by offense rather than defense.

The smaller tiles are very useful during the later stages of the game: the smaller a piece is, the better it is at occupying the holes in the tiles of other colors, and thus opening up new areas of the board for expansion. It can happen that no player can finish off all their tiles. Therefore there is usually a score bonus for spending all one's tiles, and a further bonus for playing the 1-omino last. These rules are relevant when multiple games are being played and score is being kept cumulatively.

In the three-player game, the players take turns playing for the fourth color (blue). Because the players must play out of corners of the board, one player will always be playing out of the corner opposite to blue. It is widely believed that this is an advantage. The reason for this is that blue is generally used as a tool to disrupt (or "blok") the other player's moves. For most of the early game, the player opposite blue is too far away to be successfully bloked, but can still use the color themself to blok others. Various methods have been suggested to solve this problem, but it is recommended that players come to an agreement among themselves that best suits their preferences.
General Rules

The following are the rules to standard blokus.

Before the Game
Each player chooses one color (blue, green, red, yellow), and the order of play is determined by any mutually agreeable method. In a three player game, the color that is not chosen is the fourth color.

Blokus is played on a board made up of 400 (20×20) squares.

Playing the Game
The game is played with two, three, or four players. In a two or a four-player game, each player takes turns playing their pieces on the board. In a three-player game the players take turns playing for the fourth color, starting with the player who took the first turn.

Example: Red plays first, then yellow plays, then green plays. Once all three players have taken their turns, red plays for blue (the fourth color) and then takes his regular turn. The next time it is blue's turn, yellow plays for blue and then passes the turn to red.

The first piece played by any player must cover a corner square.

The placement of pieces is governed by two rules:
#Each new piece must be placed so that it touches at least one other piece of the same color.
#Pieces of the same color cannot be placed adjacent to each other (i.e. they may only be touching corner to corner).

As play proceeds, the board becomes more and more crowded, allowing for less and less possible moves. Whenever a player cannot play a piece, his turn is skipped. If a player can play a piece, he cannot opt not to.

Winning the game

Once no players can make any more moves, all players must count all their blocks(each piece has its number of indvidual blocks) off-board. So if one person has 17 blocks off-board, his score is -17. If he put down the one-block last, then he gets 5 up, so he has -12. The person who has the highest score wins.

Variant rules and boards
As Blokus is a very simple abstract game, it lends itself to fans developing variant rules of play. Since there are only two rules to begin with, it is easy to add rules without breaking or unbalancing the game. Here are a few such variants:

Draft Blokus
This variant solves the problem of a three-player game by allowing all players to play pieces from all different colors. The strategy in Draft Blokus is quite a bit subtler than in standard blokus, and the draft that takes place before the game is almost a game onto itself.

The players take turns drafting the pieces that they will play with. Each color is drafted separately until each color has been drafted. The players alternate taking first pick of each color. Once every piece as been drafted, play proceeds as normal.

Notes: each player has a mix of pieces of different colors, but the rules for placement are the same. Sometimes a situation will arise in which a player skips a turn for lack of a move, but then is able to play again later due to subsequent moves made by other players. Though this does not contradict the rules of Blokus, it would be impossible in a standard game of blokus.

Reverse Blokus
This variant is an unusual alternative, and is like playing a game of standard blokus as poorly as you can. This variant works well in games of two, three, or four players, though the three-player game suffers from the same imbalance as in standard blokus.

Once no players can make any more moves, the player with the least tile segments on the board wins.
Variant Two Player
In this alternate way to play with two players, the board is divided down the middle, and both players play only on a single half of the board, each playing with only a single color. Otherwise, the game is played identically.

Obstacle Blokus
The game is played with one, two, or three players. Each player chooses one color, and the remaining colors become the obstacle colors. The players first take turns placing the obstacle colors. Once the obstacle colors have been exausted, the players choose starting corners (these are not chosen at the beginning of the game) and play proceeds as normal.

Expansions and spinoffs
Blokus Duo/Travel Blokus
Blokus Duo uses a smaller (14×14) board, two of which are marked as the starting squares, and supports only two players.
Each player chooses one color (purple, orange), and the order of play is determined by any mutually agreeable method.
The first piece played by any player must cover the starting squares.

This game tends to be faster and more aggressive, since the players start in the middle of the board, as opposed to its edges.

Blokus Trigon
Blokus Trigon uses pieces made up of triangles rather than squares, and is played on a hexagonal board. The game can be played with three players without giving one player an undue advantage.


Source: Wikipedia


Flags: Very Short (0-60 mins), With a Group, Children, Teens, Adults, Seniors, Indoors, Outdoors, At Home, Morning, Day, Night, Sunny, Snowy, Rainy
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