Dale Yu: Review of Alan & Bobby’s Block and Guess

Alan & Bobby’s Block and Guess

  • Designers: Alan R. Moon and Bobby West
  • Publisher: Matagot
  • Players: 3-8
  • Age: 8+
  • Time: 30 minutes
  • Played with copy provided by publisher

Make other players guess a word using wooden pieces, easy? Not that much! In Block Guess, your opponents will choose the wooden pieces you will use… Good luck!

Players will be playing in two teams of two players. Each round, one person from each team will be building an object. The other two people are the guessers. They will be trying to identify their teammates’ objects in order to gain points. Beware the construction cards! You might end up playing with just one eye open… Block Guess ends after 4 rounds and the team with the most points win the game.

—description from publisher

The box for Alan & Bobby’s Block and Guess is filled with 15 wooden bits of various shapes and colors.  There are three types of cards: number cards, clue cards (7 clues per card), and construction cards.  Players break into teams, and each team gets their set of number cards.  The rules change somewhat based on player count; I have only played the 4 player game, and I will describe that version.

Teammates sit across the table from each other.  To start a round, flip over a clue card – each clue card has 7 words on it.  One player from each team will be building a thing – unsurprisingly, these players are the “builders”.  The teammates are the “guessers” because, as you might have figured out, they will be trying to guess what the heck their partner is building.  The builders each draw a card from their number deck; this tells them what thing they are trying to draw.  Each builder is able to see the card of the other builder; so that both know what each is trying to build – it could be the same thing!

In the first building phase, each builder selects a wooden piece from the supply and gives it to the other builder.  This is done three times, and thus, each builder will have three pieces.  Then, using those pieces, each builder tries to make their target object using only those three pieces.  Each piece must touch at least one other piece, the whole thing must be able to stand on its own, and all the blocks must be used.

There is now a first guessing phase where the guessers each get a single guess – naming one of the seven objects on the word card.  If they are right, their team gets two points.  If not, that team will move onto a second building phase.  In general, there should not be much communication between the guesser and the builder. 

In the second building phase, any still active builder gets 3 more blocks from their opposing counterpart; and then the builder must again try to build the thing – following the same guidelines: use all the pieces, each must touch at least one other, the whole thing must stand on its own, etc.  The builder can simply add on to his previous build or can start over entirely from scratch.

In the second guessing phase, a correct guess will now garner a single point.

Move onto the next round, and switch roles within your team.  Do this for a total of four rounds.  The team with the most points wins!  If there is a tie, continue playing rounds until one team has more points than the other.

My thoughts on the game

Confusion about the name notwithstanding: the box has the long title I’ve used here, the BGG Entry says Block & Guess, and the publisher description (copied at the top) merely has Block Guess – this is a fun little party game.  The box says thirty minutes, but man, for us, each round only takes 3 or 4 minutes, so we’re finishing this little filler in 15ish?

It’s super quick and obviously not very serious.  Lots of laughing as people try to build things and then having the other teammates try to guess what the heck they’ve done.  Some of the words are obviously harder than others; but the trick in the first half is to carefully pick pieces that won’t be overly helpful.  As the builders know what each other is trying to build – they need to think about what pieces would be the hardest to incorporate in their opponent’s target sculpture. Additionally, I think it’s useful to think about which pieces you’d like to have yourself – and obviously, not give those to your opponent as it will then be impossible to get those for yourself!

The guessing round is simplified by the fact that it’s essentially multiple choice, though it is one out of seven, instead of the more common one out of four…  Keeping this in mind, the builder should always look at the full list and at least try to build a version of their thing that hopefully won’t be mistaken for any of the other choices.

Interestingly, it’s not always easier to figure things out in the second guessing round.  Sure you have more pieces to use – but don’t forget that your opponent has been choosing them; there is certainly no guarantee that the six pieces will each easily be useful.  You are obligated to use all the pieces, so that makes it more difficult as well.

Like with most party games, I end up being less concerned with the final score and more interested in how much fun it is on the ride to the end.  Here, the laughing is at/with your friends as you watch the things they try to make and the guesses they make…  The game is quite short, and that suits me just fine.  Break it out, take 2 minutes to explain the rules, usually with an example round, and everyone gets a chance to be the builder once or twice – it’s a nice recipe for fun in a short amount of time.

Until your next appointment,

The Gaming Doctor

About Dale Yu

Dale Yu is the Editor of the Opinionated Gamers. He can occasionally be found working as a volunteer administrator for BoardGameGeek, and he previously wrote for BoardGame News.
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