The ABCs of Gaming: Q is for…

We’ve reached the Qs in our exploration of the ABCs of Gaming.  Q is for…

image by BGG user zefquaavius

Quarriors came out in 2011, from WizKids and designers Eric M. Lang and Mike Elliott.  It’s a game for 2-4 players ages 14 and up, and takes 30 minutes to play.  It’s a game that takes the deckbuilding mechanism and puts it into a dice game.  You’re building your own dice pool, and using it to summon creatures and score points.  I talked about the game on the blog last June, a couple of months before its release, and it has since proven to be a very popular game.  It won the Qs with 28.2% of the vote, beating out second place Qwirkle with 17.3%.

image by BGG user DukeOfEarl

Quarriors comes in a cube shaped tin that contains 130 customized dice, 53 power cards, a glory tracker, four score markers, and four fairly low quality dice bags.  At the start of the game, each player gets 12 basic dice – 8 Quiddity dice and 4 Assistant dice.  The faces of these dice will give you Quiddity (the basic game currency), or the Assistant might give you a basic creature to summon.  You’ll lay out the three basic resource cards and their associated dice – Assistant with 2 dice, Quiddity with no dice, and Portal with five dice.  You’ll also deal out 7 different creature classes and 3 different spell classes (there are several types within each class), and put the five associated dice with each card.

This is a turn-based game, and each turn follows a certain sequence: score creatures, draw and roll dice, ready spells and summon creatures, attack your rivals, capture a quarry die from the wilds, and move dice into your used pile.  I’m not going into great detail on these rules since I run the risk of repeating myself, but to sum up:

  • Score Creatures: If you have creatures that survived since your last turn, you score them.
  • Draw and roll: Draw six dice from your bag and roll them.  If you don’t have six dice, put your used dice back into your bag for the remainder.
  • Ready spells and summon creatures: Any spells you rolled are moved to your ready area.  You can also spend Quiddity to summon any creatures you might have rolled.
  • Attack: Creatures you have summoned now attack all of your opponent’s creatures.  Opponent’s creatures absorb the attack until there is no more, and then you move on to the next one.
  • Capture a die from the Wilds: This is a fancy way of saying that you spend your remaining Quiddity on a new die for your bag.  You don’t have to do this.
  • Move your dice to your used pile: This is basically your discard phase.

Play continues until one player has reached the target glory number (20 with 2 players, 15 with 3, 12 with 2).  That player wins.  The game can also end if four or more creature cards have no remaining dice.

Quarriors was an interesting concept – roll dice instead of shuffling cards.  The custom dice are quite beautiful, if a little small.  I thought it was fairly clever how they used power cards to add variety to the game.  This way, each die grouping, which in itself doesn’t change, can have some different powers associated with it.  The art is very cute, and the game itself is fairly fun.  HOWEVER, I get the feeling that it’s a little too random.  In a game like Dominion, you try to stack your deck so hopefully good cards will come out in good combinations, but it’s still a random draw.  In Quarriors, you still have the random draw, but you add an extra layer of randomness because you have to roll the dice.  So that Dragon die finally came out of your bag, but you rolled it and only got Quiddity.  Tough luck, no points for you next turn.  Another problem is that the most expensive dice seem WAY overpowered, particularly the Dragons.  They’re nearly unbeatable when you do roll them well, and they give you massive points.  This is what happened in my first game.  Also, the game in its four-player form feels too short, but that’s easily fixed – play to more points.

Initially, I voted for Quarriors in the poll.  However, I have since played Qwirkle and switched my vote.  I think Qwirkle provides better strategic options while being more accessible to a wider group of people.  My reservations with Quarriors have been echoed by a lot of people since its win in this poll, published last October (2 months after its release).  I wonder if one of these other games would have won if the poll was done now:

  • Qwirkle (17.3%): From Susan McKinley Ross and MindWare, this abstract game won the 2011 SdJ (despite being originally published in 2006).
  • The Queen’s Gambit (13.8%): Technically, this is called “Star Wars: The Queen’s Gambit”, but I dropped the Star Wars to get it on the Q list because, honestly, who puts all that Star Wars labeling in front of any of their properties?  Do you actually say “Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace” every time you talk about the movie this game was based on?  This game came out in 2000 from Rob Daviau, Alan Roach, and Craig Van Ness.  It is surprisingly well regarded for a commercial tie in of a virtually universally panned movie.  I haven’t played it, but hopefully someday.
  • Other (12.7%): Nominees included Quandary, Queen’s Random, Quick Strike, Quiddler, and Qyshinu: Mystery of the Way.  Of those, I’ve only played Quiddler.  It’s a word game where you’re making words from a hand of letter cards.  I don’t really like it.
  • Quebec 1759 (6.8%): This 1972 wargame was designed by Steve Brewster, Tom Dalgliesh, and Lance Gutteridge.  It’s basically about the conflict between the French and British during the French and Indian War, a topic later explored by Martin Wallace in A Few Acres of Snow.
  • Quo Vadis? (6.0%): Reiner Knizia has his hands in every letter, even the Qs.  This 1992 game from the good doctor is a negotiation game set in ancient Rome.
  • Quoridor (5.9%): This 1997 abstract was designed by Mirko Marchesi.  You’re trying to advance your pawn to the opposite side of the board, and can choose to place walls that will inhibit your opponent.
  • Quarto! (3.9%): A 1991 abstract designed by Blaise Muller.  It features some very nice wooden pieces with some similar attributes, and you want to line up four of them (though your opponent gets to choose what you place.  It looks very cool, I’d love to play sometime.
  • Queen’s Necklace (3.2%): This 2003 game was designed by the Brunos (Cathala and Faidutti) and published by Days of Wonder.  You’re jewelers trying to impress the queen with your wares.  I don’t know much about it, but it was an early game from DoW.
  • Quicksand (1.3%): A 2003 game from Stefano Cavane and Fantasy Flight.  It’s a bluffing/racing card game where you’re secretly trying to advance your jungle explorer down the path.
  • Qwirkle Cubes (0.8%): This 2009 game is essentially a dice version of Qwirkle, where you’re rolling the cubes instead of just drawing tiles.  I’m not sure why the seven people who voted for it prefer this to the original…I’d like to hear about that.

And that does it for the Qs.  I only have ten more posts to go in this series!  R is next…thanks for reading!

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