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Blokus Duo

Designer: Bernard Tavitian
Publisher: Alary Games
Players: 2
Time: 15 minutes
Reviewer: Greg Aleknevicus

Blokus Duo is a strictly two-player version of the two- to four-player Blokus. You can read my review of the original here but the short version of that review is this: Blokus is a great game but it has some problems due to its multi-player nature. Success can depend at least as much on your opponents ignoring you as on your own ability. To avoid this problem I recommended playing it with only two players. Now there's an even better solution: play Blokus Duo instead.

For the most part the game remains the same: each player has a collection of 21 tiles. (For the mathematically inclined, these are the 21 "polyominoes" of size one to five.) On your turn, you place one of your tiles on the board so that it touches any of your previously laid tiles at the corners only. The object of the game is to place more tiles than your opponent.

There are only two minor differences: Blokus Duo's board is a 14x14 grid (the original was 20x20) and players no longer start in the corners but rather on one of two marked spaces near the center.

Blokus Duo is physically smaller than the original; the board is about 20cm x 20cm. It's small enough that you could consider this a "travel" version, but it's not so small that the pieces are hard to handle (a big concern for this ham-fisted reviewer).

Since the two games are so similar, my impression of Blokus Duo is likewise similar—this is an excellent game. In fact, because it eliminates the multi-player problems of the original, I find that it is practically flawless. There is a concern that it may favour the first player but so far this has not been an issue. We'll see how it holds up after many more plays.

Being two-player only, Blokus Duo invites a more direct comparison to other similar games such as Cathedral and Parker Brothers' Domain. The "touching only at the corners" rule seems to create more interesting plays than those games and I suspect this is the reason I like Blokus Duo as much as I do. Part of this is the fact that impeding your opponent is a much trickier task since your "wall" is so porous. This makes it much more satisfying when you are able to effectively block him or her. All in all, these satisfying plays make for a very enjoyable experience and I highly recommend Blokus Duo.

- Greg Aleknevicus

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