Saturday, February 04, 2006

Blokus: The Picture Boardgamegeek Doesn't Want You to See!

Actually, they rejected it because it looks too similar to the previous one I posted.

OK, so this is about opening strategy. But first, a note on the naming of pieces. All the pentominos have been given a name by the mathematicians. Green has played , from the corner to the centre, FWXY. Blue has played PXWF. Yellow has played YXWN, and red has played FXWN. The Barasona opening as discussed on BGG is FXWN. Note that this gets you to 3 spaces from the centre point. The order of the X and W is irrelevant - you could play FWX as green has done. However playing Y rather than N gets you one square closer to the centre.

As demonstrated by blue, it is possible to start with P rather than F, but that leaves you one space further from the centre. Why would you use this variant? I don't know. As demonstrated by yellow, you can even open with Y, but that also costs you because you can't use it as last in the chain to reach towards the centre. Of course, having an N in the centre gives you more points to work from.

So here's my characterisation of this family of openings. X and W are played as the second and third moves, in either order. The first move is Y, P, or F. The final move is Y, N or F. Between the first three tiles there are only single square gaps, making it expensive to cross the line.

If only I actually played this game, I could put this theory to the test!


Kathy said...

Thanks for posting. I am a new player and have been trying to find something on the web about how to play better so to speak.

Do you every play online?
What do you think of that?

Friendless said...

Kathy, the best forum for discussion of Blokus strategy would be this one at

I only write articles here because my pictures get rejected :-(. If you haven't been to boardgamegeek, I recommend it as the best board game site on the internet.

I don't play online - I work at a computer all day every day and my body can't handle long sessions in the evening as well. It would be a great way to get practice at games, if it suited my lifestyle.


Spectator said...

Try playing these openings online at I think you'll find that they work well in 4 players games, but not in two player games, at least not against players ranked 4000 or better. Let me know how your experiment goes. I play as "BaronRed" on

Friendless said...

Spectator, thanks for the invitation but I still don't feel like playing games on-line. What do you think is weak about the opening? My guess is that penetrating the line close to the corner is not a big problem, because the priority should be to make big moves and get a lot of territory within reach of your tiles. The Barasona opening is maybe a little too compact?