Review: Blockhead!
Publisher: Parker Brothers
Year: 1975
Tagline: Parker Brothers Balancing Skill Game

Two young children watch an older man try to delicately balance a block on top of a large structure
Clearly a terrible child marked up my copy, and I apologize to you for that. I would never have done that as a child. BTW, if anyone finds an original copy of Memory that says “Fuck” on the inside cover please let us know. It might be Keri’s childhood copy.

how we met

I found Blockhead! on a less-than-memorable stop at a thrift shop. I was happy to find it, because I knew it was a dexterity game that I was interested to try. I feel like Blockhead! is a classic game that many people have played, but I never see it thrifting.

how it plays

True to its dexterity origins, Blockhead! is all about balancing blocks on top of other blocks without everything tumbling down around you.

An action shot showing a hand placing a block on a structure that is already 9 blocks tall
An action shot from our early play

This version of Blockhead! comes with a flat piece of wood that is used as the base of your structure. The first player places the first block on the base – and it is the only block that is allowed to touch the base the rest of that round.

The next player adds another block to the structure, and this continues until the structure collapses. The first time a structure collapses on your turn you are a SQUARE. The next time you are a CHARACTER. The third time, you are out of the game!

Play continues and last person standing wins Blockhead!

The Blockhead! base with random blocks around it
The Blockhead! base, so inviting

There are a few additional rules around play that address potential shortcomings. If the structure collapses within the first three turns then you reset rather than have any penalty for any player. This can prevent players from intentionally causing the structure to go awry between their early turn and their next turn.

Players can only place blocks with one hand, and they can only touch their block. If only their block falls rather than more of the structure then they can try the placement again.

how it went

We played Blockhead! on an evening that I believe I already wrote about, where we played half a dozen games and had a lot of fun. As with a lot of games new to us, you can see how our strategy improves even within the single game play.

Our early structures were tall and glorious, while our later structures were short and not very attractive, but much more diabolical.

Early structure is very tall, but very simple
I am sure there is a reason rest stops choose this kind of sculpture, but we were just getting started
Another later build, showing how crowded the blocks are
We are starting to pick up on our natural Take That skills here
Another structure just barely standing
A wing and a prayer, and then it all came tumbling down. Probably on my turn
A short but brutal structure
The shortest, the hardest to see, but the most diabolical of them all

At times we would attempt a placement that did not work out as intended, but sometimes it still worked out. The phrase, “Fuck it. That’s what I meant.” was used many, many times.

Blockhead! suffers from a common downer in vintage games, where the last-person-standing winning condition often means players are actually out of play and just sitting there watching the remainder of the play. I did not think Blockhead! went too terribly long for us, so it wasn’t a huge deal. But it is worth mentioning because that is always a bummer.

I was the first player out, followed by John. Bill and Keri went head to head, but Bill ultimately won Blockhead!

play or pass

I say play! Blockhead! is a classic dexterity game, and the shapes are interesting. You can find more (and less) sophisticated dexterity games nowadays, but going back to just weird-shaped wooden blocks holds up fine.