- Designer: Klaus-Jurgen Wrede
- Publisher: Noris
- Players: 2-4
- Ages: 6+
- Time: 15-20 minutes
- Times played: 4, with review copy provided by Noris
Oneof the big themes of SPIEL 2018 was the use of polyominos in games. Another was the ascendance (and possible jumping of the shark) of Roll-and-Writes. Bloxx! is one of a few games that sits firmly at the intersection of these two Venn diagram circles.
In Bloxx! each player gets an identical scoring sheet at the start of the game. The goal is to fill in the sheet as completely as possible while trying to circle as many pre-printed numbers as possible. There are two special dice in the box, and these dice and the pads are literally the only components for the game.
The active player for a round takes the dice and rolls them. He chooses one of the dice and then fills in the shape seen on that die on his scoresheet. When drawing shapes, there are a few rules to follow. The first shape drawn must touch the bottom edge of the scoresheet. All other pieces must then touch a previously drawn shape on at least one edge. When drawing in a shape, it is recommended todraw in the outline of the shape first, and then filling in the Xs and Os asindicated. The shape can be rotated however the player likes, and he transcribes it exactly – so that X’s and circles are placed on the scoresheet as seen on the die.
You must choose a die if you can. Only if it is impossible to choose either shape may you pass on the round. If you are the active player and you cannot choose a shape, both dice are available for the rest of the players without penalty. If you form a gap – that is an empty space that has something drawn in the space above it – that gap is immediately shaded in. It will not be able to be filled in on a later turn.
Once the active player has gone, all other players then choose either die to draw on their sheet. If they choose the same die as the active player, they do not get to draw in the circle though and must replace that spot with an X.
The circles are important in the game because you’d like to draw a circle around the numbers printed on the page. Each circled number is worth that number of victory points at the end of the game. There are also four colored rows on the sheet – if you completely fill in a colored row, you announce it: you will score 4 points if you are the first to fill in this particular row and 2 points if you manage to do it but not first. You can mark your progress for this on the colored areas at the very bottom of the sheet.
The game continues until the turn when at least two players are unable to fill in a shape. Then you score your sheet. You should have already circled 4s or 2s for the colored rows that you have finished. Add up the positive points for circled numbers on your sheet. Then lose one point for each unfilled space and gap on your sheet. There is no tie breaker.
My thoughts on the game
Bloxx! was one of the first games that I played at SPIEL 2018 as I had a chance to play it at a press event on Wednesday. We misplayed it the first time, as we were all caught up on the similarities to Tetris, and we missed the rule about automatically filling in a gap. We were all chuckling about how we were going to squeeze a piece in later. Apparently, in the paper form of the game, the pieces simply drop straight down and they aren’t allowed to scooch over as they land. In my later games, we got the rule correct, and it actually makes the game a bit more interesting as it really does affect how you twist and turn the shapes to fit.
In my games, the bulk of the scoring has come from the circled numbers. In the one game where I tried to race ahead to score the colored lines, I ended up with so many empty spaces in my grid that I think I lost more than I gained. The end-condition of the game really discourages you from trying to race ahead because the game only ends when two players cannot fill in a shape. Thus, if you race to the top, you’ll have a super inefficient grid of shapes on your sheet, and you’ll watch everyone else methodically fill in all their spaces to beat you.
While it certainly depends on the dice, it is definitely a powerful thing to be the active player. You always get to draw the circle of the shape you choose, and oftentimes, you can play defensively to prevent an opponent from scoring a nice number by taking the die that he/sheneeds. Sometimes, they may be able to stall and wait for the next turn – but since you have to take a shape every turn if you can, you might permanently prevent them from scoring that number.
In the end, there is enough here to keep a gamer interested for the 10-15 minutes that it will take to fill up the sheet, but it has yet to become the sort of roll and write that has people requesting to play it again immediately, though it has received requests in successive game nights, so it does seem to have some lasting power. It’s good enough that I’m planning to laminate four sheets and add the two special dice to my portable roll and write collection.
Thoughts from other Opinionated Gamers
Ratings from the Opinionated Gamers
- I love it!
- I like it.
- Neutral. Dale Y
- Not for me…