So Frankly...

So Frankly...

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Mass Market Marvel – Qwirkle

What in the world is a Qwirkle?  You know the old saying: “He’s a psycho, you’re eccentric and I just have a little Qwirkle!”  No, can’t say I’ve heard it either…

Promotional image from Mindware
Qwirkle is a game for two to four players that has been described as Scrabble with shapes and colors.  Not exactly how I would phrase it, but nonetheless it gives a mental picture of what each player is doing.  It has been available at Target for quite some time, and has made its way to K-mart in my area, which is fantastic.  Why?  Because it is a great game that won the 2007 Mensa Select award and is now up for the 2011 Spiel des Jahres.  It is fun, accessible for all ages, and develops pattern recognition skills.  However, do not mistake this for an “educational game”; this game is quite a bit of fun!  What follows is a look at the pieces, an overview of game play, and a bit on accessibility.

The components to Qwirkle consist of black blocks with six shapes painted in six colors on the “face” side.  The combination of color and shape gives thirty six individual blocks, each of which is repeated three times for a total of 108 pieces.  There is no board; the only other component is the draw bag.  The heft of all of these blocks means this game is a great game to play outdoors.  Nothing will blow away in the wind.  I probably wouldn’t take it camping (and certainly not backpacking!) due to the size and weight of the game, but my wife and I have played at the football field during our son’s practice with just a little folding game table and some chairs.  Playing this on the porch on a cool summer evening would be great!

Game play is equally simple.  On a players turn, they choose from one or more tiles in their “hand” and play them together to the table.  The goal is to create lines of one color with all six shapes, or lines of one shape with all six colors in a crossword style pattern.  One point is awarded for each tile (including already placed tiles) in the newly enlarged line.  If two tiles are added to a line of two existing tiles, the player will receive four points.  If they manage to add to more than one line, points are awarded for all of them.  If the play completes a line so that all six colors or shapes are present (called a Qwirkle!) the player receives an additional six points.  Then, tiles a drawn from the draw bag to replenish the “hand”.  The player with the highest score when blocks run out is the winner.  It’s easy to see where the comparisons to Scrabble come to mind.
Promotional image from Mindware

The game box says that children down to six years old can play, and that sounds about right.  Getting a typical 6-year-old to sit for 45 minutes at one game might be a trick though.  Nonetheless, Qwirkle is a game that we have taught lots of people to play, some of whom had never played games even as kids.  Occasionally, there will be a misplay by a new player, but I still sometimes make an illegal move by mistake, so I can’t complain there.  Those moves are normally caught by someone, before it becomes an issue.

This is a great game that I highly recommend.  It is priced very reasonably; great for a game on a budget. Particularly for family play, this game is fantastic.  

Vital Statistics:

                Ages:                     6 and up
                Time:                     45 minutes
                Players:                 2-4 (but we have pushed this to six players!)

It’s Your Move!

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