I’ve talked a bit about the rise of the deck-builders in previous posts. I’ve talked about Dominion extensively, as well as covering the newer Puzzle Strike, Nightfall, and Eminent Domain. More deck-building games are coming soon, including Core Worlds (the first original game from Stronghold Games) and Rune Age (Fantasy Flight’s game from Corey Konieczka set in the world of Descent and Runebound). I’ll get to those later, but for now, we’ll look at the latest twist to the genre: Quarriors.
Quarriors is a game coming out in August from WizKids, publishers of the extremely popular HeroClix series of games, the recently released Star Trek: Expeditions game (which I may be covering soon), and the Mage Knight collectible minatures franchise (which in turn will soon be producing another deck-builder designed by Vlaada Chvatil – I will DEFINITELY be covering that when there’s more information). For its part, Quarriors was designed by Mike Elliott (of Thunderstone fame) and Eric M. Lang (who has designed several titles in the Warhammer universe). Quarriors plays with 2-4 players aged 14 and up, and takes around 30 minutes to play.
On the surface, Quarriors looks like kind of a standard fantasy battle game. You’ll be casting spells, summoning creatures, and attempting to knock out your opponents to earn the favor of the Empress Quiana. The twist of this “deck-building” game is that you’re not using cards – you’re using dice. As the game goes on, you’ll be attempting to build up your dice pool by buying dice by using Quiddity, the currency of the game (they apparently really like Q words).
The game comes with 130 custom dice, 53 cards, a scoring track, four score cubes, and four bags. The dice (called the Quarry) come in five types: Quiddity, Portal, Assistant, Spell, and Creature. Dice have several symbols printed on them. A drop containing a number represents an amount of Quiddity you have to spend in the round. A spiral containing a number allows you to draw a certain number of dice and roll them immediately. A circular arrow symbol allows you to reroll the die. A creature symbol (which is going to be different from die to die, depending on the class) will allow the die to be used as a creature, and also tells you the creature’s level, attack, and defense. Spell symbols allow the die to be used as a spell. An asterisk indicates a burst, which allows a special ability as indicated on the Power Card. Some faces show two symbols separated by a line, meaning that you must choose between them. Others show two symbols with no line, indicating that you can use both. Cards, meanwhile, are not used specifically for individual players, but are rather used as reference to indicate the powers of the various dice in the game. There are three card types – Creatures, Spells, and Basic.
At the start of the game, you’ll pull out the three Basic cards (Assistant, Quiddity, and Portal), and lay them out into what will be called The Wilds. Two assistant dice are placed on the Assistant card, and five Portal dice go on the Portal card. From the Creature card deck, you’ll pull out seven different classes of Creature. Classes are things like Scavenging Goblin, Witching Hag, Quake Dragon, etc. There are different types for each class, providing some extra variety in the game, but you can only use one type from each class. Once you’ve chosen the creatures, take the five dice for each class and put them on the card. You’ll repeat the process with Spell cards, pulling out three different classes and adding the five corresponding dice to the card. Each player gets a bag and a score marker, as well as eight Quiddity dice and four Assistant dice. Your dice go in the bag and get mixed.
On your turn, you have six steps: score Creatures; draw and roll; ready Spells and summon Creatures; attack; capture a Quarry die from the Wilds; move dice to your used pile.
To score Creatures, you look in your ready area. Basically, your play area is divided into your active pool (dice you will roll for the turn), your ready area (the holding place for creatures and spells), and your used pile (dice that have been used). For each Creature in your ready area, score glory points based on the value indicated on the corresponding card. After scoring each Creature, put them all (as well as attached spells) into your used pile. After you score, you can cull one die from your used pile per Creature scored, meaning that you return it to the card in The Wilds.
Next, you’ll draw six dice and roll them. If you don’t have enough, you draw what you can, then add your used pile back to the bag to draw the remainder. After rolling, you can move any Spells right to the ready area. If you roll Creatures, you need to spend Quiddity equal to the cost shown on the die face (upper left corner) to summon the Creature to your ready area. You spend Quiddity by moving dice showing the Quiddity symbol to the used pile until you have enough.
Creatures in your ready area must now attack ALL other Creatures, starting with the player on your left. Add all of your attack values (including Spells) to get your total. The player to your left must choose a defender. If that Creature’s defense is higher than your attack, nothing happens. If your attack is equal to or higher than the defender’s defense, that die is destroyed and moves to the used pile. If a die is destroyed, the defense is subtracted from the attack, and you move on to the next creature in the defender’s ready area, using your modified attack value. As soon as your entire attack has been absorbed, or as soon as all of that player’s creatures have been destroyed, the attack ends. You repeat this process for every player around the table.
After the attack, you may “capture” one Quarry die from The Wilds. Any remaining Quiddity you have can be spent to buy another die. All dice in your active pool, plus the die you bought (if any) is moved to your used pile, and it’s the next player’s turn.
There are two ways for the game to end. One ways is for four of the Creature cards in The Wilds to be empty. At this point, the player with the highest point value wins. The other way for the game to end is for one player to hit the goal point value for the game – 20 for two players, 15 for three, and 12 for four. The player who hits that goal first wins.
I really like the deck building concept. Dominion is one of my favorite games, and while my experiences with Thunderstone haven’t been great, I still really enjoy the process of acquiring cards to build up my point producing engine. So I’ve really been enjoying seeing how various games have tried to take the idea in a new direction. The concept of using dice instead of cards is really intriguing to me, and promises to really add an element of unpredictability and variety to each game. I can imagine the die rolls being very exciting. Now, while a lot of people probably won’t like the way this randomness affects strategy and gameplay, I think it will be a lot of fun. In addition, I’m looking forward to seeing how all the Creatures and Spells work together.
The debate lately has been about whether or not the market is getting oversaturated with deck building games. It may happen someday, but I think it’s waaaaaaaay to early to have that debate. Dominion came out less than three years ago. Most of the “clones” have been very different from each other, and I think there’s a lot of creativity that can still be found in the genre. This game represents a new application for the concept, and I’m very interested to see how it works out. Thanks for reading!