Wednesday, April 17, 2024

Block Ness Is Abstract Made Real and Exciting

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The Loch Ness monster came to worldwide attention in 1933 from Scottish folklore.  The animal is described as large, long necked, and with one or more humps protruding from the water. Some call the Loch Ness pseudoscience, or wishful thinking, while others continue to believe with more sightings and stories surfacing sporadically. No matter what you believe, “Nessie” has captured the world’s imagination for almost a century. And now, it seems, she’s made her way into board games.

Block Ness box art

Block Ness is a game where players “grow” their Loch Ness Monster by adding additional segments to the board and while doing so they will either purposely or accidentally block other players from growing their own. The game is for 2-4 players and plays in about 15 minutes. 

What’s In The Box?

  • 1 Loch board
  • 48 monster parts, 12 of each 4 colors
    • 1 head segment, 1 tail segment, and 10 body segments of different lengths and heights.
Block Ness components

How Does It Play?

Players will each start with their starter segment somewhere within the dark blue on the board. The starter segments for each player might be of different length but will all have the same height which is the lowest height of all the segments. The head and tail are then placed on each end of that segment forming their monster. 

Block Ness starting monsters

Players are trying to place all their segments on the board by the end of the game. Players will take turns placing one segment on their turn, and then turns will move in a clockwise direction where each player places a segment at a time.  When placing a segment, you can add to your monster by using any chosen segment to lengthen your monster either from its head or from its tail.

Players place one peg of the chosen segment in 1 of the 3 adjacent holes from the peg of the chosen end of the monster, the head or tail. The segment needs to fit on the board sometimes over other segments of any other monster, including possibly itself.  When the segment is placed, that player will take whatever end they chose, the head or tail, detach it, and place it on the end of the newly placed segment.

So, players will have a choice of which segment to place, which end of the monster to extend, and then which one of the three holes to place that segment in fitting it on the board.

Block Ness 4 player game

Players will take turns adding on segments to their monster taking up more space on the board and making it harder for other players to maneuver around the board to find spaces to place more of their segments. The game ends when all players are either blocked or everyone has placed all their segments to the loch. The player who has the least segments remaining in their reserve wins the game. If there is a tie, the winner is the player whose monster has the tallest head. 

The Verdict?

Block Ness is dressed up is one of the most appealing ways I’ve seen a publisher do. The gameplay is simple and is very abstract. Most abstract games have a specific look to it that usually looks very plain. Now even though abstract games sometimes look plain, they can be very great games. But Blue Orange has taken a good abstract game and placed a Loch Ness Monster theme onto it, and IT TOTALLY WORKS! 

Block Ness spatial awareness

Block Ness, being an abstract game, includes a lot of strategy in its gameplay. The game is easy to teach and learn, quick to play, but requires planning and spatial intelligence. Now, players can test segments out before they decide on one to place, but the players who can plan and understand how the pieces can grow and spatially envision this growth will do amazing in the game. 

Block Ness was a little too difficult for my 6-year-old to grasp, she could play the game but couldn’t plan or have reason to place one segment over another. But the components in the game are very kid friendly. I would agree with the 8+ age listed on the box for a player to understand their choices in the game, although a younger player could play the game but just won’t do too well and might need a little help. 

I personally feel like this game is a winner and would be a great addition for a family who enjoy family weight games. The components are excellent, the game is full of strategy, just enough choices during your turn, and plays fast enough that it doesn’t get boring. 

Block Ness end game

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You can grab a copy of Block Ness at Target or your FLGS, where it’ll run you about $25.99.

Images via Blue Orange Games

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