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    Feb 2nd, 2017 at 21:34:32     -    Blokus (Other)

    Brief Overview
    Blokus is a simple puzzle/strategy game where players use colored tetris shaped pieces to compete for the most squares on the board. The game requires two to four players and the goal of the game is to obtain the most amount of squares on the board. The only rule is that each piece a player plays must touch another piece of their color but only at the corner. A piece can touch other pieces at any point.

    Role of the Player
    The player begins by placing a piece in the their respective corner of the board and each round they build off of this piece placing so that it only touches the corners. Players take turn placing one piece at a time on the board. Every piece a player has in their possession at the end of the game counts against them so it is in the player’s best interest to play the larger pieces first.

    Role of the Board and its mechanics
    The board is a plain white grid of squares that the colored tetris like piece fit into. It serves as the playing field and to hold the pieces in place. The board does not grant any special bonuses.

    Special Mechanics
    Since there are four colors a two player game allows each player to have two colors each, however in a three player game each player gets one color and then takes turns playing a the fourth remaining color which does not count for or against a player's points. This I believe is to maintain the balance of the game as a missing color would leave additional space and would make it easier to place pieces later in the game.

    Game Play : Session One
    For the first session we chose to play a three player game. This was the first time any of us had played blokus and we spent time trying to familiarize ourselves with the rules of the game and getting comfortable with the mechanics. The game proceeded very seriously as players took their time to deliberate about where to place pieces but were still somewhat haphazard in their choices. We took turns playing the fourth color which acted as a kind of invisible actor in the game and many of us felt that it was an annoyance to remember to play it. The board filled up quickly and it became difficult to place large pieces and some players were blocked in and had to pass due to not being able to lay down any more pieces. The game ended in a tie with two of us having 18 squares leftover.

    Game Play : Session Two
    This game proceeded in much the same way except we decided to use the advanced scoring rules where a player would receive 15 bonus points if they played all their pieces and 5 points if the last piece they played was their smallest piece which is the single square block. The game went much faster this time however each player was more deliberate about what piece they played and where, attempting to get a larger spread across the board so that one would not get boxed in. A lot of time was spent searching for an available space and passing when failing to see an opening. All players improved during this round having only 4, 8, and 9 pieces remaining respectively and the player with 4 squares was the winner.

    Overall Impression
    Blokus is somewhat slow to start but becomes more of a challenge than one would initially think as it requires deliberation and spatial planning. We easily recognized by the second round that playing the larger pieces earlier in the game resulted in a better end game strategy. The three player game is awkward in that the players must take into account a fourth ghost player that we alternated playing each round. There was no drive to maximize this ghost player’s score and we simply placed the pieces as quickly as possible so this ghost player was soon out of the game as it represented a conflict of interest for the other players. Ultimately, the game could be improved by introducing a timer that would increase competitiveness and cut down on time spent on deliberating about where to place pieces.
    To play all pieces I believe one would have to implement a more deliberate strategy and try to minimize gaps between other colors on the board that are difficult to fill later.

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