Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Game Review: Qwirkle

Stars: 5 out of 5
Pros: Creative mix and match game for big score
Cons: Many colors are too similar except in bright lights
The Bottom Line:
Line up tiles by their
Colors and shapes scoring points
For addictive fun

Mix and Match Shapes and Colors and Score Big Points with Qwirkle

Qwirkle is the new popular game in my family.  I hadn’t even heard of it, but both my parents and my brother and sister-in-law asked for it for Christmas.  Over the time I was there for the holiday, we played it quite a bit because it is lots of fun.

The game consists of a bunch of blocks with colors and shapes on them.  There are six colors (red, orange, yellow, green, blue, and purple) and six shapes (from circles to stars and diamonds).  There are three sets of all color and shape combinations, so there are 108 blocks in the game.  While the game comes in a box, it also includes a bag for drawing, which is very helpful.

The point of the game is to score big points.  You do this by matching color or shape to create lines.  There can only be one of each color or one of each shape per line.  You get points for how many your play creates in a line.  For example, if you play two pieces to create a line of four, you get four points.  You get extra points if your play can count for more than one line.  And if you complete a line of six (called a Qwirkle), you get a bonus.  Once you’ve played, draw the number of tiles you played from the bag.  Once the tiles run out and someone runs out of tiles in their hand, the game is over and the high score wins.

It sounds complicated, but it is actually very easy to pick up.  Once you’ve played a turn or two, you get the strategy and the ways you can play things.  The score starts to add up, too.  Don’t worry if you fall behind because things can change.

Part of that is strategy.  Do you block a potential Qwirkle and potentially hurt yourself later?  Do you hang on to a tile you can play in hopes of getting a Qwirkle later?  Do you play the other tiles in your hand here or there?

And that’s what makes the game fun.  We played multiple games over the course of three or four days, and no two tables were close to looking the same when we’d finished.  It obviously depends on which tiles are drawn when and then which are played.

The strategy also makes the game fun.  With every turn, I’m looking over the board and trying to play to get the most points without setting up my opponents to get bigger points.  Since this is an individual game, it helps that you don’t have to try to second guess what your teammate has.  You are only playing for yourself.

The box recommends the game for ages 8 and up.  While younger kids could certainly match the colors and shapes, they might miss out on the subtle strategy involved.  Obviously, that age is a guideline, but it seems like it’s probably about right.

Likewise, they recommend the game for 2-4 players.  The first time I played, we played with 5 people.  I don’t see where it makes too big a difference, although too many people playing would make the game to hard to win.  I think six might be the max that would make the game fun.

The one problem with the game is the colored tiles.  They are too similar to each other unless you are in bright lights.  Green is about the only color that doesn’t look like its neighbors in the rainbow.  It’s something to watch out for, although it’s not bad enough to ruin the game.

It amazes me how people keep coming up with fun games, but Qwirkle proves that there are still creative people out there creating new, fun games.  You’ll be hooked after your first game.

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