Are you good at spatial reasoning? Can you pick a container that exactly fits your leftovers? Do you make things fit in the trunk when you pack for vacation that mere mortals wouldn’t be able to fit? Do you or did you ever spend hours playing Tetris? (Note: According to Tim Ferris, 10 minutes of Tetris before bed will help you sleep.) Here are a few games like Tetris for spatial wizards and wannabes.
On Amazon Prime Day this year, I ordered a copy of Ubongo. It’s a game I played more than 10 years ago, when it first came out and won a bunch of awards. It’s a super simple game to learn. Each round you get a new board. One player rolls a die, determining which pieces you need to fit into your puzzle. One side of the board is easier, with 3-piece puzzles. The other side has 4-piece puzzles. There’s a 30-second timer, and you yell “Ubongo!” when you complete your puzzle. Everyone who finishes within 30 seconds gets a random gem from the bag. The first person to finish gets a sapphire (3 points), and the second person gets an amber (1 point). The gems add some luck. Emeralds are 2 points and rubies are 4 points. After 9 rounds, you total your gems.
Ways to vary the difficulty level:
- Experienced players use the 4-piece side. New players use the 3-piece side.
- Experienced players use their non-dominant hand only. (This is hard! If you give up, do your best Inigo Montoya impression. “I am not left-handed!”)
- Extend the timer or get rid of it altogether.
- Work cooperatively to see how many puzzles you can solve in 5 minutes.
- Try Ubongo Extreme, which has pieces made of hexagons.
Ways to make it a party:
- When snake is rolled, everyone yells, “A snake!” and jumps out of their seat, runs clockwise around the table and sits down before beginning the puzzle.
- When the hand is rolled, high five everyone at the table before beginning.
- Etc. Make up your own crazy stuff.
Blokus and Travel Blokus
Blokus is the only game where my son has flipped the board. A game for 2-4 players, each person gets an identical set of pieces in their player color. Players take turns placing their pieces. After the first piece, which must start in the corner, each subsequent piece has to touch a corner of your color. But, an edge of your piece can’t touch another edge of your color. The goal is to play all of your pieces. At the beginning, it seems like there is plenty of room. By the end, there’s nowhere left to go. The person with the fewest pieces (or fewest total squares in those pieces) wins.
Travel Blokus is great for 2 players. Blokus Trigon is just like Blokus, but with triangles instead of squares.
To adjust the difficulty, allow inexperienced players to start with fewer pieces.
Fits is basically Tetris as a board game. Each player has a board and a set of standard Tetris-style pieces. Each player draws a different starting piece. After that, a card is drawn and players must drop the piece onto the board, as if it were falling in the video game. In each round, players have a card in the background that gives bonus points (or negative points) for holes left or pairs of symbols left uncovered. It’s a fast game because everyone plays on their own board simultaneously. This one’s out of print, but you can find it on eBay.
To adjust the difficulty, add points to inexperienced players’ scores.
Do you know any other good games like Tetris?
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