Knock Your Blocks Off Game Review

The Basics:

  • For 7 and up (publisher suggests 8+)
  • For 2 to 4 players
  • About 15 minutes to complete

Geek Skills:

  • Counting & Math
  • Hand/Eye Coordination & Dexterity
  • Visuospatial Skills
  • Pattern/Color Matching
  • Strategy & Tactics
  • Reflex & Speed

Learning Curve:

  • Child – Moderate
  • Adult – Easy

Theme & Narrative:

  • None

Endorsements:

  • Gamer Geek rejected!
  • Parent Geek approved!
  • Child Geek approved!

Overview

Knock Your Blocks Off is one part race, one part puzzle, and one part dexterity game wherein the players will first race to build one of five different structures and then do their very best to knock their opponent’s structure down. But this game is not just about building fast and destroying faster. Players must use strategy and tactics to determine what structure is best to build to give them an advantage over their opponents and then judge distance and strength to maximize the damage on their opponent’s structure! A fast and fun family game of speed, logic, and mayhem!

Knock Your Blocks Off is comprised of 30 victory tokens, 24 building blocks (6 each in 4 different colors), 4 crown blocks (1 each in 4 different colors), 4 structure guides, and 1 Demolition die. The blocks and dice are wooden and their colors and images are bright and easy to distinguish. The victory tokens are made of thick cardboard and the structure cards as made of thinner card-stock. All components are of high quality.

The game components are few in number, but they are colorful and detailed!

Game Set Up

Prior to playing the game, ensure that you have a flat playing surface that is large enough so each player can approximately be 1 foot away from every other player. Hand each player all the building and crown blocks of the same color. Place the Demolition dice in the center of the playing area and within easy reach of all the players.

You are now ready to play!

Game Play

Knock Your Blocks Off is played in rounds wherein each round as 2 phases. These phases, and their play order, are as follows:

  1. Building Phase
  2. Destruction Phase

The Building Phase is played at the same time by all the players. The goal of each player is to build one of the five structures shown on the structure guide. Each structure provides a specific game bonus to the player during the Destruction Phase, but also has different levels of difficult. On the count of “Ready, Set, Build!”, all the players roll their building blocks (not the crown block) in their play area and immediately start to build one of the five structures.

Because the first phase is essentially a race and a puzzle game, the player must determine what structure they can build as fast as they can, but must also build the structure that will provide them with the best advantage to succeed at surviving the Destruction Phase! The five structures and the bonuses they provide to the player are briefly summarized here:

  • The Gate: player gets 1 extra victory token for successfully attacking an opponent
  • The Fort: invulnerable to boulders rolled on the Destruction die – consequently, the player automatically wins a victory token if an opponent rolls a boulder against them
  • The Wall: player rolls the Demolition die twice and selects the value they want to use; however, the player does not get a bonus victory token if they are the first to finish building their structure
  • The Tower: player gets 1 extra victory token for successfully defending against an attack; however, the player does not get a bonus victory token if they are the first to finish building their structure
  • The Steps: players gets a second chance to attack if the first attempt fails

When building any of the five structures, the players must follow four simple rules. Failure to follow any of these rules will cause the player to forfeit any structure bonuses and the Demolition die victory token.

  1. A player may use any side of the side-faces on the blocks for building, but the player can only turn the block around (clockwise or counter-clockwise) on its base, keeping  the top face of the block the same at all times
  2. The block colors must be placed so colors on adjacent blocks match – white edge to white edge, for example.  IMPORTANT! Only the side facing the player must follow this rule!
  3. Only the bottom row of blocks may touch the playing surface
  4. The crown block must be placed last and should be placed on top of the structure

Once the player has completed building their structure using the above rules, and they are the first to do so, they should quickly grab the Demolition dice from the center of the table! All the other players should continue to build their structure and place their crown block on the top when done. There is no time limit for this phase.

The players then check their opponent’s structure to determine if it was built correctly. Any mistakes will be visible on the opponent’s side of the blocks, as well as the player’s side. If any are found, that player does not have to rebuilt their structure, but they do not get any bonuses the structure would have provided if it was built correctly.

If the player who finished first and grabbed the Demolition dice built their structure correctly, they are immediately awarded 1 victory token, unless otherwise specified by the structure bonuses. If their structure is found to be faulty, the player gives the Demolition die to the player who spots the error first, who consequently, gets 1 victory token for spotting the error.

Note: If the player’s structure is accidentally knocked down during the Building Phase, simply rebuild the structure following the building rules. The player may choose to build a different structure.

The Destruction Phase begins as soon as all the structures have been checked. The player with the Demolition die goes first and rolls the die to determine how they attack. The three possible die outcomes are briefly summarized here. Note that these are the general rules that should be followed. All special structure rules supersede any of the following:

  • Boulder: Set the Demolition die at least 1 foot away from your opponent’s structure and flick the die in an attempt to knock over your opponent’s crown
  • Ogre:  Tossing the Demolition die underhand style, release the die at least 1 foot away from your opponent’s structure and knock over your opponent’s crown
  • Dragon: Hold and release the Demolition die approximately 1 foot above your opponent’s structure and knock over your opponent’s crown

The first player to attack chooses either the player to the left or right of them. The defender cannot interfere with the attack in any way. If the attack is successful (i.e. the defender’s crown is knocked off), the player immediately is awarded 1 victory point. If the attack fails, the defender is immediately awarded 1 victory point.

After the attack is done, the previous defender is now the new attacker and rolls the Demolition dice even if their crown block was knocked over. They must attack the player on their other side. For example, if they were attacked by the player on their left, they must attack the player on their right. In this way, the Demolition die is passed from player to player in a circle and each player is only attacked once. The round ends when the first attacking player is the last defender.

After all players have had a turn being an attacker and a defender, all the players pick up their structure blocks, place the crown block to one side, and the Demolition die in the center of the playing area. Start a new round with the Building Phase.

Note: If the player’s structure is accidentally knocked down during the Demolition phase, simply rebuild the same structure but ignore the building rules.

Winning the Game

Game play continues until 1 player has 8 victory tokens. As soon as a player has accumulated the necessary victory tokens to win, the game immediately ends.

If any of the above rules do not make sense or if you need some visual examples, visit Gamewright’s web site and download a copy of the  Knock Your Blocks Off rules.

Game Variants

The game play can be changed slightly by introducing one or both of the following game rule variants:

  • Win 2 victory tokens instead of 1 if you knock down your opponent’s crown but leave the other building blocks untouched.
  • To increase the level of difficulty, build all structures approximately 2 feet away from each other. Replace any rules that suggest a player should be within 1 foot of their opponent to now read 2 feet away.

Prediction

My little geeks love Battleground: Crossbows & Catapults and Angry Birds: Knock on Wood. There is just something about a game that encourages you to toss and destroy things that makes my little geeks giggle with evil joy. In truth, they also love to build things. I have said it many times that my little geeks love LEGO and are always building spaceships, cards, forts, and anything else their young minds can imagine. Games that provide both building and destroying are a guaranteed win.

I’ll cut right to the chase here, as Knock Your Blocks Off is going to be a big hit even before it comes out of the box. In fact, when my little geeks saw the box, they started jumping up and down for joy. The only other time this kind of behavior is present is when they see a box of donuts or a present.

I am concerned about the building phase, however. The puzzle aspect of the game can be tricky for little geeks to understand at first. While not an insurmountable obstacle, it is a game time killer. You will note that there is nothing in the rules that suggest the players have a specified amount of time to build their structure. This means that the more experienced player is going to build their structure quickly and then twittle their thumbs as less experienced players labor on their structures. This is not a deal breakers, but something to be aware of. Feel free to create a House Rule that suggests the players only have a minute to  build their structure if you believe it necessary. As for me, I was fine to simply let my little geeks take all the time they needed to finish their puzzle. After all, that is part of the reason they are playing the game.

After explaining the rules, demonstrating the different ways to destroy structures, and going over and over again the importance of color matching on the blocks, we set the game up for play. While I did so, I asked my little geeks what they thought about the game so far.

” This is AWESOME!” ~ Liam (age 7)

“Oh, yeah! I’m going to be the dragon and destroy Liam’s castle!” ~ Nyhus (age 4)

“No you’re not! <sticks tongue out at his brother>” ~ Liam (age 7, now acting age 4)

“Daddy! Liam stuck his tongue out at me!” ~ Nyhus (age 4, acting his age)

OK, looks like there is a healthy level of competition already brewing! Let’s get to the game already so I can stop hearing about tongues and such. There are structures to build and destroy!

Final Word

Here’s the thing about puzzles. They take time. Lots of time depending on the person who is trying to solve them. The publisher’s suggested age range of 8 or more is right on the money here, at least when it comes to my little geeks. My 7-year-old struggled and then quickly overcame his initial confusion about the blocks and started to get faster and faster with his structure building. The same can not be said for my 4-year-old. He either forgot or simply ignored the color matching rule. Again and again, I would remind him and show examples. Again and again, he’d say he understood, demonstrate a color match to me, and then forget about it the next time he built a structure. In the end, I simply let my 4-year-old build the structure he wanted (which is pattern matching using the structure guide) and everyone was happy.

The game, once we came to a “good place” with the color matching with my 4-year-old, went very smoothly. Time does seem to lag when you are in the Building Phase, but I believe this is only because the Demolition Phase is so very fast in contrast. The extreme time differences makes one phase seem really long and the really short. This didn’t appeal the to the Gamer Geek in me. As a Parent Geek, however, I was overjoyed the game put the right amount of focus in each phase. Time and attention to detail in the Building Phase, speed and reflexes in the Destruction Phase. A perfect match that worked very well within the game.

As for my little geeks? They loved the game. Love it and wanted to play it again and again and again! They became faster at building the structures after just a few games and ridiculously deadly with the Demolition die! The first game, my structure was never knocked down. Not once. The second and all other games afterwards, my structure hardly ever withstood my sons’ attacks! I was both overjoyed and severely beaten down.

See the smile on his face? He knows he is going to win! Unsettling...

Gamer Geeks will enjoy this game as an exceedingly light filler while they wait for more players or as a refreshing after-hours game when the mood needs to be light. But that’s where the Gamer Geek’s love of this game will end. It is a very simple game and the victory tokens are awarded to player very fast. So fast that the elitist gamer will quickly see that the player order determines who will win. Luck is easily replaced by skill in this game, but there is nothing a player can do to avoid loosing tokens to another player simply because they are ahead of them. The only possible way to get ahead is to guess correctly what structure to build, but this provides so little in the way of a significant advantage, it becomes apparent that focus should be put on building fast enough to get the Demolition die to control the turn order. In short, the game will appear “broken” to the elitist Gamer Geek.

Parent Geeks are going to love this game! The puzzle element is very good for their little geeks and the pattern matching of the structure only serves to strengthen visuospatial skills. The game length between phases is perfect, too, putting time and attention in the right place that will allow the parents and little geeks the ability to focus on the important aspect of each phase of the game, turning the game into a teaching opportunity that does not feel out-of-place or labored.

Child Geeks, this game was made for you! Get ready to build and bash! Child Geeks will be challenged by the puzzle element and will be thrilled by the race to the finish! As a reward, all the little geeks get to destroy the structures which is both empowering and terribly entertaining! The game matches its speed to the player and will not rush them, which will reduce stress. While there is a reward for being first, it is not significant enough to cause a great deal heartache if the player misses it. The total game length is short and the game set up is quick. This will allow several games to be played during a single hour. Fast and fun!

I am very pleased with Knock Your Blocks Off. It was a real surprise how the puzzle element made a very simple game into a mental challenge that proved to be well worthwhile. The only portion of the game that makes me slightly concerned is the building blocks and the Demolition die. These two pieces take a lot of hits. First when they are being rolled and again when they are being knocked over and thrown. This will cause the blocks and die to chip, without a doubt, and the paint on them to begin to wear off. This could lead to a big problem if the players cannot determine what the colors are or how they should match. The fix, of course, is to take a marker and color in the portions of the missing color. Simple and effective, but troublesome all the same. No one likes to see their games take so much damage that it can no longer be played with easily. But, then again, I  have not played this game nearly long enough to determine if my fears are justified. We have played the game about 10 times, averaging about 6 rounds per game, and the blocks and die are still holding their markings beautifully. I sincerely hope my worries are all for not.

Regardless, you will enjoy the game. It is fast, fun, challenging, and rewarding. Great for Child Geeks and Parent Geeks. Non-gamers are going to wonder what all the fuss is about, but will still enjoy it (but really, they won’t know what to do with it) and the Gamer Geek elitists will give it a polite nod of approval. You simply cannot go wrong with Knock Your Blocks Off if you are a Child Geek or a Parent Geek!

This game was given to Father Geek as a review copy. Father Geek was not paid, bribed, wined, dined, or threatened in vain hopes of influencing this review. Such is the statuesque and legendary integrity of Father Geek.

About Cyrus

Editor in Chief, Owner/Operator, Board Game Fanatic, Father of Three, and Nice Guy, Cyrus has always enjoyed board, card, miniature, role playing, and video games, but didn't get back into the hobby seriously until early 2000. Once he did, however, he was hooked. He now plays board games with anyone and everyone he can, but enjoys playing with his children and wife the most. Video games continue to be of real interest, but not as much as dice and little miniatures. As he carefully navigates the ins and outs of parenting, he does his very best to bestow what wisdom he has and help nurture his children's young minds. It is his hope and ambition to raise three strong, honorable men who will one day go on to do great things and buy their Mom and Dad a lobster dinner Cyrus goes by the handle fathergeek on Board Game Geek. You can also check him out on CyrusKirby.com. Yes, he has a URL that is his name. His ego knows no bounds, apparently....
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