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List Price: $25.50
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This tactile wooden block game combines the logic and strategy of Set with the creative multi-maneuver game play of Scrabble. Easy-to-learn rules mean you'll be creating columns and rows of matching colors and shapes in no time! Look for opportunities to score big by placing a tile that touches multiple pieces and matches both shapes and colors; the player with the most points wins.
- 108 blocks
Average Rating: 3.6 in 5 reviews
Qwirkle is the latest winner of the Spiel des Jahres, a prestigious gaming award in Germany, and the most coveted award in the gaming industry. Quirkle is essentially an abstract game, and can best compared with Scrabble, but with colours and shapes instead of letters. If you enjoy games like Dominoes, Ingenious, Set, or Blokus, this tile-laying game will definitely appeal to you.
Gameplay in Qwirkle is speedy and smooth, and the rules are very easy and quick both to teach and to learn. Despite the simple rules, Qwirkle game-play has ample room for decision making and strategy. Qwirkle does have an element of luck-of-the-draw, and thoughts about this luck element depend will depend on your own perspective: hardcore gamers might find the luck element too much, but casual gamers will find the luck element just right. For most people there's just the right mix of skill and luck, and that's why strongly appeals to families and is accessible to a wide range of ages.
The wooden components are colourful, well produced, and good quality. The only draw-back is that the colours could pose a problem for the colour blind or in low light.
The bottom line: Qwirkle is an abstract Scrabble-like game with colours and shapes that has all the essential elements - great components, quick play time, ease of learning, and just the right blend of luck and strategy - to make it the perfect choice as a gateway game or family-friendly favorite with instant appeal for people of all ages.
The game features 108 wooden blocks, containing a mix of six colors and six shapes. To begin, each player draws six blocks. The starting player is the person who has the most blocks with a common characteristic -- for example, three blue blocks or three blocks with circles. You play those blocks, draw your hand back up to six blocks, and play continues.
The rules to placement are simple. Lines are created of shapes or color. Blocks that are added to that line must share the same characteristic as blocks already in place in line. So, a line of circles will not have a square in it. Another rule: A row where the common characteristic is color can only have one block of each of the six shapes. If the common characteristic is shape, you may only have one of each color.
Players build on the blocks lying on the table, Scrabble style. Scoring is simple: If there is a row of four blue blocks and you add a fifth block on your turn, you get five points. Points are awarded to how many blocks there are in the line -- not how many you place. And the person who places the sixth block in a row gets a six-point bonus. That means hand management is involved, because you may not want to place blocks which give your opponents the chance to score 12 points. If a block can score in two rows simultaneously, it gets points for both of those rows.
The game is addictive and pleasingly made. After only a couple of plays, it already has moved into the favorites category. The rules are quick and easy to explain, so there's no problem get newbies (or non-gamers or kids) up and playing competitively. Abstract strategy fans need to check this one out.
Qwirkle is an engaging and challenging game for all ages. There is intricate strategy involved when approached thoughtfully, but even young children can pick it up quickly. My 6-year-old son learned it rapidly, although he still claims to need a little help. He keeps up with adults' scores pretty well--and often wins. Some of the pieces (colored symbols printed on black blocks) are losing their colors, but this is not a major problem. We've played it a lot and expect a little wear and tear. Qwirkle is rooted in skill and luck of the draw.
Designer: Susan McKinley Ross
2 – 4 Players, 30 minutes
Review by: Greg J. Schloesser
NOTE: This review was first published in Knucklebones magazine
Qwirkle, designed by Susan McKinley Ross and published by MindWare, consists of 108 thick wooden blocks. On each block is printed a symbol – circle, starburst, square, diamond, cross or clover – with three each in six different colors. There is no board, as it will be formed by laying the blocks to the table. Players do need to keep a running tally of points scored, so paper and pencil are necessary.
Game rules are exceedingly simple. Basically, a turn consists of playing one or more blocks into the growing grid and scoring points. A few rules must be observed:
1)All blocks placed must link to the existing grid. No isolationist blocks
2) All blocks must be placed in one line, and they must share one common characteristic – color or shape – with other blocks in that line.
3) Each line of shapes can only have one block of each of the six colors. For example, a line of circles cannot have two blue circles in it. Likewise, a line of colors can only have one block of each shape in it.
It is possible to place blocks so that they will align with more than one line. That is actually preferred, as the player will score points for each line connecting to the blocks that they have placed. The true challenge of the game is spotting the optimal placement of the tiles at your disposal so as to score the most points.
When tiles are placed, scoring occurs immediately. One point is scored for each block in the line or lines created or extended, including blocks already in that line. In addition, a six-point bonus is earned if you placed the sixth and final block in a line. Players must exercise care to not continually provide this bonus opportunity for their opponents by placing a fifth block in a line.
After placing blocks and tallying the score, the player refreshes his hand to six blocks. Instead of placing blocks, a player may exchange blocks with the general supply, but that constitutes his entire turn. Play continues in this fashion until the supply of blocks is depleted and one player completely depletes his personal supply of blocks. That player receives a six-point bonus, and the player with the greatest cumulative score is victorious.
The game is very easy to learn and play, but it does require some planning and tactics. Mostly, it is a game of opportunity and observation, as players should try to spot the plays that will earn them the most points. However, care must be exercised to insure that one’s placements do not provide bonus opportunities for the next player. Further, it may also be wise to conserve a tile or two if they will likely be able to be used later in the game to complete lines and earn bonuses.
Fans of Reiner Knizia’s popular Ingenious will find much to enjoy here. Ingenious puts a bit more pressure on the players, as the board is fixed, so players can play aggressively to block their opponents. Since there is no “fixed” board in Qwirkle, the playing area expands without limit (well, perhaps the edge of the table is a limit!), so blocking an opponent is more difficult.
Strategies aren’t numerous, with the main tactic is placing tiles to maximize your scores, which will often involve either completing a line of six tiles, and/or placing a tile so it can score in two or more lines. Due to the free-form nature of the board, blocking is a tougher task. While seasoned gamers searching for deep strategies and mind-bending options will likely not be satisfied, Qwirkle is an ideal game to play with families and friends.
A typical Mensa award winner, this is a dull and predictable game with many obvious moves and little decision-making, that comes down to luck (or lack thereof) in the end game. Qwirkle lacks the depth of play and player interaction of Ingenious (Einfach Genial), and fails to meaningfully improve on the dominoes concept in the way that pendur does. Ether of these games would be a much better choice. Qwirkle might be a good choice for very young children, but others will do best to avoid it.
It is also worth noting that the components (made in China) are of very poor quality, and every copy of the game I've seen has had at least one piece that is easily recognizable by sight when face down or by touch when in a draw bag, which completely ruins the game for all but the most casual play.