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The eye-catching artwork is by Christine Alcouffe and Simon Douchy. The 3D models were designed by Dominique Breton and everything is bound together by the rules of Laurent Escoffier.

Side note: I don't know if Escoffier is a popular name in France, but when I was at college getting my Catering Degrees I originally learned from a book by Auguste Escoffier (he created Peach Melba dessert for Dame Nellie Melba, and many other items of fine French cuisine) and I still have that very large book; though games now precede cooking in my skillset. 

 

BLOCKNESS is a uniquely clever version of the old pen & paper 'snakes' game, and it is brilliantly produced. Published by BLUE ORANGE is is for 2-4 players aged 8+ with games supposedly taking 15 minutes - until experienced gamers become involved and then it stretches to 30+ minutes.

The board is the bottom of the box with a peg-board insert. This has three shades of blue, from light, to medium to dark, which creates the peg holes that can be used depending on the number of players.

 

The players are each randomly given a colour and take all the pieces in that colour. There are the same number of pieces in each colour but their shapes are all different and that is where the skill comes into the game.

You are creating BlockNess Monsters, each with a tail and a head. As long as you can place a piece legally (within the confines of the depth (darkness) of the water and with both ends fitting into peg-holes) you can continue to expand your monster from its Head or its Tail. Positioning alongside the head or Tail is permitted, in fact it is generally necessary.

 

The in-game photos on this page are continuations after each player has had a turn. You will notice that Green has been placed over Orange and that is a legal move. However, if Green had already been there then Orange could not have placed under Green; sounds complicated but it's easy really.

 

In their first turn, each player places their smallest piece on the board, ensuring that the Head is positioned at one end and the Tail at the other. The pieces are designed so that even if you wanted to play nasty by trying to immediately block another player in, you cannot. Each player's smallest piece is different in size and the rules prevent you going across a Head or Tail piece.

 

Players drop out if there is no legal position to play and they have pieces left and the game ends when one player plays their last piece - players should have the opportunity for equal turns which means if the first player exhausts their pieces any other players, who haven't already dropped out (ie they have one piece remaining) take their turn.

The player with the least pieces left wins. Ties are determined by whose Head piece is highest - all colours have one equal highest piece - and if they are equal then a tie is a tie is a draw. No one wins!

 

There is an alternative way of playing and that is to leave one space between the Tail or Head when placing the pieces. This is supposed to make it an 'expert' variant, thus harder, but we found that it made little difference to either the complexity or the fun and now continue to play the original rules most of the time, using this variant for an occasional change (just to confuse ourselves).

BLOCK NESS is an enjoyable game for 2, 3 or 4 players (the darkness of the water contains the board for the number of players) and is easy to understand for occasional players. It is also a fun lite-strategy game for core gamers who like to break from complex/complicated games - this is pure elation for all.

 

The Game is Over

 

© Chris Baylis 2011-2021