Advent reviews: Quarriors

Dominion brought the deckbuilding genre into the world of card games. Well, the inventers of Quarriors thought dice games should get in on the action. The result is a game that is light and silly where Dominion is deep and lean. Too bad the inventors had a fetish for the letter Q.

What kind of game is this?

In Quarriors, you’re building a pool of dice. Each turn, you draw six dice from your dice bag and roll them. All the dice are special Quarriors dice, of which there is 13 different kinds in any given game of Quarriors: Three representing spells, seven creatures and three basic dice.

Each side of a die gives a certain effect. A creature might have sides that allow you to summon a level 1, 2 or 3 version of the creature, two that give you “quiddity” (magical energy), and one that gives you some other effect.

You use quiddity to “capture” (buy) dice from the the “wild” (the common display), and to “summon” creatures in order to activate them, let them deal damage to other players’ creatures and stay in front of you in the hopes of scoring points next time it’s your turn.

If a creature survives until it’s your turn again, you can score it, earning points according to what it kind of creature it is, and you may “cull” a die – that is, remove it from your pile of dice. An “advanced” version that I would recommend playing with changes this rule, so that you must cull a die to score it.

The first player to a certain number of points wins.

How many people should you play this with?

Good question. I have most often played this game two people, but particularly with the “Quartifacts” expansion, I think it might be even more fun with more people.

What do I think of this game?

So, first things first. Quarriors, quiddity, quartifacts, quarmageddon – do I need to go on? The people who made this game have an obsession with making everything start with “qu”. All, right, fair enough, that’s their call. I personally get sick of it after a while. It doesn’t break an otherwise enjoyable game, but it annoys me when I’m looking at the game – it strikes me as a kind of “noise” that I have to ignore in order to enjoy the game.

And I do enjoy this game. It plays quickly, and it has a very whimsical, wild feeling to it. I compared it to Dominion earlier, but while certain core mechanics are modelled off what Dominion does, this plays nothing like that game. Where dominion can  be a very thinky and strategic game, this game is just about getting out there, rolling some dice and doing the best with whatever you rolled.

That can also be seen as a weakness in the game: most of the time, it is pretty obvious what your best move is. This is alleviated a bit with the two advanced rules that are presented in the expansion rules, as this adds a few more strategic decisions.

But all in all, this is a game for quick, fast paced fun, and not for engine building and strategising. As a matter of fact, engine building is alsmost completely impossible – not only must you draw the right dice together, you must also roll the right faces. This means that you can’t really rely on chaining specific effects on specific dice.

One gripe I have is with the cards. Each type of die comes with three or four different cards. This means that you can play with one of three different versions of the same creature, getting the most out of the most expensive part of the game: the dice. Unfortunately, the cards have the same piece of artwork, and the names are almost identical. This means that it’s almost impossible to remember which of the different versions of the card you played with before.

All in all, a good game that we have played many a time here when we haven’t had the mental energy for a game of Dominion.

A few interesting things to note

  • Just as trashing is an important aspect of Dominion, culling is a very important aspect of this game. The difference between being allowed to cull any kind of die (say, a basic quiddity die) and being required to cull the die you score has a huge impact on game scoring. Being able to cull weak dice when you score means the person who scores will be more likely to good dice in the future, creating a snowball effect that allows a player to widen their lead once they have it. Being forced to cull your good dice when you want to score points for them makes it a strategic decision whether to keep it and use it later or cull it and get the points, plus it means that scoring points will slow you down.
  • The Quartifacts expansion adds quests, which are an alternative way to earn points. I would really recommend this expansion, as it adds yet another strategic element to the game that I really like.
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