Blokus Duo is a quick abstract game that is simple to learn but challenging to play. Sean and I don’t play many games like it, but we both enjoyed it. It’s a puzzle-like experience to figure out how to block your opponent and claim areas for yourself.
Basic stats about Blokus Duo: 2 players, ~15 minutes, ages 5+
Sean and I learned to play Blokus Duo recently at Cafe Mox, a local board game cafe. We borrowed it from the big game library they have at the attached Card Kingdom store.
We chose Blokus Duo because we had seen people playing it at The Sloop recently, and we thought it looked interesting. Also, we had seats at the bar of Cafe Mox that night, and there isn’t a whole lot of space, so we wanted a small game. We also wanted one that was quick to learn, since we were there for dinner and didn’t want to spend too much time reading and interpreting the rules for a new game.
The rules were indeed simple and easy to learn. The sheet was short and clear.
Each player receives a set of pieces in a variety of shapes. Sean chose orange, and I was purple. The game board is set up with a grid of small squares so the pieces click into place and stay there easily.
Players take turns placing tiles on the board until they can’t add any more tiles. The more you can fit on the board, the better. At the end, you count up the number of tiles on the remaining pieces you didn’t place, and the person with fewer tiles left wins.
(I think when you get better at it, there are other scoring rules that become relevant–like a bonus for placing ALL of your pieces on the board–but we have never gotten anywhere close to that yet.)
There are two squares on the board that have small circles on them. You must place your first piece on one of the grid squares that has a circle on it.
Then you take turns placing pieces. Each piece you add must be touching at least one of your other pieces at the corner only. You can’t have full sides of your own tiles touching.
There are no restrictions on having full sides of your tiles touching the sides of the other player’s tiles.
It can be tricky to visualize all the possible moves, but it is important to protect your own corners and not let the other player cover up your corners with their pieces. You also need to do your best to eliminate the other player’s corners and claim areas of the board for yourself.
Blokus Duo is simple but not at all easy. I tried to be aggressive and attack Sean and claim areas, but he won both games we played.
I haven’t played enough times to have a strong strategy about when to place each piece, but I’m guessing that there are some basic optimal strategies that will become clearer with more plays.
Overall, I like Blokus Duo and bought a copy for myself shortly after playing at Cafe Mox. It’s very different from the other games in my collection. It’s quick, fairly portable, and gives your brain some fun spatial work.
Below are some pros and cons of Blokus Duo.
- Easy to learn
- Quick to play
- Waterproof pieces and fairly stable surface, so could work in a variety of environments
- Spatial puzzle feel to it
- Good for two players
- Variety in the sizes and shapes of pieces and in the order they are placed means each game turns out differently
- No theme or story to it (I tend to prefer themed games)
- Only for two players (but there is a bigger standard Blokus version for up to four)
- Lots of small pieces that could get lost if playing outside or in unusual environments like pubs
- For a travel-sized game, the box seems bigger than it needs to be; I can fit at least two other small games into the box for travel after removing the cardboard insert