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I will not rest until Biblios is in the Top 100. - Steve Oksienik
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The first time I saw Qwirkle, it intrigued me. It had the look of Ingenious crossed with Dominoes and the sprinkled with Scrabble. It took quite a while before I got the opportunity to play it however. After several playings, I feel like I have a good handle on the game. Qwirkle aims to be a game of fun with a basis in luck and a minor in skill, strategy and tactics. But its not the only game to occupy that same niche. There are plenty of other choices that match this same criteria so is Qwirkle the 12-point score you've been looking for, or should you discard it like a useless set of tiles?


Rules

Qwirkle is a game of placing tiles. On a player's turn, he will place 1 or more tiles and score points based on their placement. There's not really a whole lot more to it than that. The rules are available on the publisher's website if you want the full details.

Sufficed to say, the game takes about 10 minutes to learn and teach.


Components

Qwirkle is comprised of 108 square tiles. These wood tiles are about 1X1 inches in surface area and are about 1/2" thick. The tiles are painted black and are then adorned with one of 6 symbols in one of 6 colors. Each of the 6 colors has 3 of each symbol in it.





The only complaint I can make about the components is that sometimes the orange isn't quite bright enough and it can look a lot like the red in low light conditions. This isn't a big deal, but people who have trouble with colors will probably have a hard time distinguishing the two.

The second edition of the game comes with a nice big drawbag so definately try to get that version if possible. The first edition is missing this bag and while its not necessary to play, it makes life a lot easier.


Gameplay

Qwirkle is a very simple game that offers a lot of fun in a short time frame. This game is successful on many levels because of this.

Easy Rules

The rules to this game are so simple that almost anyone should be able to learn this game in just a few minutes. If they don't understand just give them some examples. Its really easy and quite intuitive. All you have to do on your turn is place tiles and draw replacements, or swap out some of your tiles for new ones. Its really that simple. The rules of placement are easy as well so there's not much for new players to process. Usually 2 or 3 turns is all someone needs to be up to full speed.

Gateway Game/Non-gamer's Game

The simplicity of the rules makes Qwirkle an ideal choice for a gateway game or a game to play with non-gamers. Nobody will feel intimidated thanks to the easy rules and everyone should be fairly competitive withing just a few turns. As a gateway game, Qwirkle is great because it shows people how fun gaming can be without rolling dice and having random fate determine the winner. I've had tremendous success introducing people to gaming with Qwirkle and I find that everyone wants to play again.

Family game

Qwirkle's simple ruleset makes it a great choice to play with kids. Again, the rules are so easy that even fairly young kids can be playing in no time. They might miss some of the more advanced moves, but they'll still be able to play and score points. The scoring is easy enough that kids will be able to do it and it will help reinforcing their counting ability. The colors are also good for helping kids learn colors and differentiation. There's a bit of logic to be exercised as well.

What about the gamers?

Qwirkle is definately a light game and its certainly not a gamer's game. However, the game does offer some choices and experienced players will be able to make use of the timing to play more effectively. There are some moves that are better than others which may not be seen by new gamers. Also, there is the ability to block moves in this game, although its much harder to do than in games like Ingenious or Carcassonne. Hardcore gamers probably wouldn't want to play this as a main event game, but it would probably work okay for a starter or finisher to gamenight. Qwirkle is best used by experienced gamers as a way to share their hobby with non-gamers or people who are mildly interested.

The secret to good comedy is.....

Timing! And thats the secret to playing Qwirkle effectively. Sometimes patience really pays off. If you have certain pieces, you can wait for other players to make moves and then place yours to score maximum points. This isn't always a possibility, but its huge when you time things right. Since there are only 18 of each color with 3 of each shape, you can count the tiles on the board to help you guage when to play certain pieces. However, the more players that are in the game, the less this knowledge really helps you.

Luck Factor

Anytime you have a blind draw, you're bound to have luck. Qwirkle is no exception. In fact, Qwirkle may be about 80% luck. The draw of the tiles will have a lot of impact on your choices. As mentioned above, you can choose what to play and where to play it, but if you don't get help from the Luck Gods, you'll have a hard time winning. You will always have a move, it may not always be very helpful to you and it may help your opponents even more. Qwirkle is a light game that's not meant for deeply analytical play anyway, so nobody should be put off by this. Obviously, the more players there are, the more luck will play a factor. This is the case in any game like this, but its especially true of Qwirkle.

Can you actually be good at Qwirkle?

I think that you can indeed be good at Qwirkle, but not in multi-player games. There's too much luck because you can't really play the odds. In a 2-player game, skill becomes more prevalent, but the luck factor is still pretty large. So while I say you can be good at Qwirkle, I think there's a fine line between actually being good and having a bit more luck.

Eye Candy

Qwirkle is the kind of game that people will see and be instantly attracted to due to the way it looks on the table. How does this affect gameplay? Well, it doesn't really, but the fact is that the game looks great on the table when you play it. The rows and columns wind across the table and the mix of colors and shapes looks terrific. This adds to the fun of playing the game which helps the overall feeling.

Downtime

There shouldn't be too much downtime in a game of Qwirkle. Most of your options are fairly obvious so its more about picking the one that suits you best right now. There's not a lot of analyzing to be done and most of the decision making process can be made during your opponents' turns. Every once in a while a player will take a minute or two to think, but if the game is moving at a good pace, this shouldn't slow it down too much.

Play time

Qwirkle should take between 30 and 45 minutes. The more players you have, the faster the game will actually go because tiles will get used up much faster. If this takes you longer than 45 minutes, then someone at the table is taking way too much time to make simple decisions.

Eye Candy

Number of players

While the rules officially state that Qwirkle is playable by 2-4 players, I've found 5 to work fairly well too.

2 players: More skill. Luck is diminished as players can play the odds
3 players: Probably ideal as it slightly randomizes the 2-player game
4 players: Definately more luck as the tiles are more spread out. The game works pretty well.
5 players: Luck heavy. The game works fine, but don't expect to have much control over the outcome.


Theme

There's no theme here. This is an abstract.


Compare it to...

I've mentioned Ingenious and Scrabble in this review and I thinks it almost a hybrid of the two. You form rows of tiles like Scrabble, but they're grouped by color and shape similar to Ingenious. The scoring system is much easier than either of those games, but thats as close of a comparison as you'll come up with. I also mentioned Dominos because of the way that you place pieces based on a characteristic.


Overall

Qwirkle is a wonderful light game that is perfect for non-gamers and families. The game is also perfectly suited for a gateway game because of its simple ruleset and its differences from normal American games. Its not a gamer's game, and it wasn't intended to be, but its a great game for gamers to play with their families and friends. If you're looking for something that anyone can play, then you definately need Qwirkle in your collection. This is a game that is perfect for almost any group.

I rate Qwirkle 7/10. The components are superb and the game looks terrific on the table. The gameplay is too light for my tastes, but Bianca's family loves it so I'll gladly play it with them. I probably won't suggest it many other times, but on those opportunities, the game will see a lot of play.

I'm glad to have Qwirkle in my collection. Its easier than Ticket to Ride and is much shorter so it may become my new gateway of choice for people who are going to be tough to get into gaming. This game will see a lot of use and hopefully it will introduce many new gamers to this wonderful hobby.




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David Kahnt
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It's fun, it's healthy, it's good exercise. The kids will just love it. And we put a little sand inside to make the experience more pleasant.
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I am proud to say that with the purchase of Qwirkle, Steve and Bianca are a total (based on other games I got them to buy) $300 poorer thanks to me.

Any day Steve, any day.

-DK
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Bianca O
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Thanks for stating that Dave!!! HaHa....I look forward to coming to see you and Becky again, knowing it will only cost us more money HAHAHA!!!

 
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David Kahnt
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It's fun, it's healthy, it's good exercise. The kids will just love it. And we put a little sand inside to make the experience more pleasant.
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You know, they say there was a man who jumped from the forty-FIFTH floor? But that's another story...
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borchardbianca wrote:
Thanks for stating that Dave!!! HaHa....I look forward to coming to see you and Becky again, knowing it will only cost us more money HAHAHA!!!



Anytime Bianca...



-DK
 
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I will not rest until Biblios is in the Top 100. - Steve Oksienik
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Howell
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Dave is the Great Enabler. He shows you fun games you feel compelled to go out and buy.
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Charles Hasegawa
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stormseeker75 wrote:
I rate Qwirkle 7/10. The components are superb and the game looks terrific on the table.


I (and others) would disagree a little with this one. I have a few of the blocks in my set where the wood blocks suck. I also know that depending on the printing you get, the colors aren't great. That being said, I like this game a lot, I just wish that the quality was higher. I know that I and others have said it would be nice to get balkalite type pieces.

That being said, it is a fun game that my wife loves.
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Darrell Hanning
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I don't feel your review is inaccurate in any, particular way, save that it always seems to take longer than 30-45 minutes to exhaust that damn bag, but I haven't exactly timed it.

I was a little disappointed by the shallowness of the strategy. It seems you can make a bum's rush for maximum scoring, or you can play defensively (blocking), but not both, and not that playing defensively really has any demonstrable impact on the game - you're as likely to leave something else open in the process as not, or at the very least, reducing your own score for the game. Counting tiles, and using those counts, is probably the extent to which this game offers strategy.

I think as a gateway game, you can do better. It might be uniquely suited to "weaning" Scrabble players, but I don't find it as fun or engaging as Ticket to Ride, for instance.
 
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Ben Lott
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I do not feel your review is inaccurate in any particular way, other than the fact that those are most certainly not "cubes" as your title suggests
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Davido
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Yes, indeed Qwirkle is the 'jack of all games, master of none' that while nobody's favorite, nobody hates it either. As a result, Qwirkle sees a LOT of table time in various settings. At the Sacramento Meetups it is a fairly common 'opener' while waiting for others to arrive as well as a sporadic 'tweener' (e.g. the 30-40 minutes between heavier games finishing and opening up). As noted, I can play this w/ my folks (yes, they're scrabble types) or my family at home. The fact that no reading is involved 1) makes it accessible for my 5 yo daughter (and teaches her pattern/spatial recognition to boot).

A fair review of a very accessible game
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Sheamus Parkes
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Quirkle is cute, but I think you hit it the head when you said:

Quote:
There shouldn't be too much downtime in a game of Qwirkle. Most of your options are fairly obvious so its more about picking the one that suits you best right now.



I don't think Ingenious is much more complicated at all, and I enjoy the decisions much more in Ingenious. So for me, it's really no contest...


Nice review though.
 
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I will not rest until Biblios is in the Top 100. - Steve Oksienik
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Howell
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Well I been watchin' while you been coughin, I've been drinking life while you've been nauseous, and so I drink to health while you kill yourself and I got just one thing that I can offer... Go on and save yourself and take it out on me
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I enjoy Ingenious more as well. But Qwirkle has its place in more casual settings and its a bit easier on new gamers.
 
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Randall Bart
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stormseeker75 wrote:
It had the look of Ingenious crossed with Dominoes and the sprinkled with Scrabble.

I call it Scrabble for the illiterate.
stormseeker75 wrote:
Sufficed to say, the game takes about 10 minutes to learn and teach.

Easy to learn, and no confusion over the rules.
stormseeker75 wrote:
Each of the 6 colors has 3 of each symbol in it.

You mean there's three of each color/symbol combination.
stormseeker75 wrote:

The only complaint I can make about the components is that sometimes the orange isn't quite bright enough and it can look a lot like the red in low light conditions.

Unplayable for colorblind people. The variation of the colors within one set is a problem. Somehow the symbols are a tad confusing, and I don't know why. At least once per game we discovered that someone put two of the same symbol in a "word". I don't know why this happens, the symbols look distinct enough.
stormseeker75 wrote:
The second edition of the game comes with a nice big drawbag so definately try to get that version if possible.

The set I played with was bagless. Bag is a big plus. BTW, Steve, it's starting to bug me that you consistently misspell "definitely".
stormseeker75 wrote:
They might miss some of the more advanced moves, but they'll still be able to play and score points.

There are advanced rules?
stormseeker75 wrote:
However, the game does offer some choices and experienced players will be able to make use of the timing to play more effectively.

Maybe I need to play it more. My first game of Ingenious, I thought it was too simple, but the game got deeper after a few plays. Does Qwirkle have depth I'm missing?
stormseeker75 wrote:
Hardcore gamers probably wouldn't want to play this as a main event game, but it would probably work okay for a starter or finisher to gamenight.

Appetizer or dessert, but it's not a main course.
stormseeker75 wrote:
I think that you can indeed be good at Qwirkle, but not in multi-player games. There's too much luck because you can't really play the odds. In a 2-player game, skill becomes more prevalent, but the luck factor is still pretty large.

My friend found Ingenious to be low luck with two players but high luck with four. I find that even three or four player Ingenious is low luck. But Ingenious has a short planning horizon, and with Qwirkle it seems to be even shorter, which makes a four player game pretty random.
stormseeker75 wrote:
Qwirkle is the kind of game that people will see and be instantly attracted to due to the way it looks on the table. How does this affect gameplay?

Yeah. Abstracts can look pretty dull, but Ingenious, Qwirkle, and the game I'm making a prototype for tonight to send to a publisher have this colorful box appeal.
stormseeker75 wrote:
4 players: Definately more luck as the tiles are more spread out.

It's definitely bugging me, Steve.
stormseeker75 wrote:
There's no theme here. This is an abstract.

Which is my favorite theme
stormseeker75 wrote:
Its easier than Ticket to Ride and is much shorter so it may become my new gateway of choice for people who are going to be tough to get into gaming.

I don't understand how TtR gets listed as a gateway game. It seems way heavy and complex to be a gateway to me, but nobody agrees with me here. Still, a gateway game should be played in 45 minutes or less, and Qwirkle fits.
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Kris Verbeeck
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Nice review Steve.

I don't agree with the luck part however.
Yes you have to draw tiles. But would you call Lost cities 80 %luck?
I think proper hand management is a greater factor on the outcome on a game. If both players are equally skilled luck can be a decider.


What i do find a factor is seat position.
If there is one person who tries to score as many points as possible each turn. That person will be handing out many qwirkles to other players, higher chance it is you if you are right after them.


 
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Darrell Hanning
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Quote:
I don't understand how TtR gets listed as a gateway game. It seems way heavy and complex to be a gateway to me, but nobody agrees with me here. Still, a gateway game should be played in 45 minutes or less, and Qwirkle fits.


Wow, I don't think I've ever seen "heavy", "complex" and a reference to Ticket to Ride, all in the same sentence before. Isn't that kind of like "heavy", "complex" and "Jessica Simpson" all in the same sentence?

How about Carcassonne, then? I'd also pick that as a gateway game, over this.
 
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David Kahnt
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It's fun, it's healthy, it's good exercise. The kids will just love it. And we put a little sand inside to make the experience more pleasant.
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You know, they say there was a man who jumped from the forty-FIFTH floor? But that's another story...
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DarrellKH wrote:

How about Carcassonne, then? I'd also pick that as a gateway game, over this.


Qwirkle is a great gateway game for abstracts.

-DK
 
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Rob Duarte
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Thanks for the review. This is just the kind of game I'm looking for to play with my significant other. I can't get her to play heavy games. Light games with some opportunity for tactics and/or strategy that don't venture too far into the "brain burn zone" are usually the most successful with her. Since she is my main gaming partner I'm always looking for good 2p games that fit this criteria; based on your review I'll be adding this one to an upcoming large order of games I'll be purchasing.
 
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BJ
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The quality of the cubes/blocks (at least in my game) is how to say it nicely, very "authentic". I mean that all the blocks are badly cut (not a block is the same) and the color on the blocks is sometimes smeared or it is on places it should not be (side of the blocks).

But the gameplay is very good, so that makes up for the bad quality of the components.
 
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BJ
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Thanks to Mindware's excellent service I received a new set of wooden cubes today. Joy !! These cubes are perfect. So the first version I received was a misprint after all.

BJ (happy gamer)
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Mark crane
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Isamoor wrote:
Quirkle is cute, but I think you hit it the head when you said:

Quote:
There shouldn't be too much downtime in a game of Qwirkle. Most of your options are fairly obvious so its more about picking the one that suits you best right now.



I don't think Ingenious is much more complicated at all, and I enjoy the decisions much more in Ingenious. So for me, it's really no contest...


Nice review though.


Ingenious after 160 games claims the game is primarily luck based.

Which raises the question of whether there is a game of this ilk that has some real strategy to it.
 
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Evan Koch
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I posted a really cool variant in the variants section. it involves also allowing pieces to form a chain if they are COMPLETELY different, it makes for a way more fun game.
 
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