Game Profile: Qwirkle

The prolific Hannah Tracy is back again! She brings us another profile of a game that works well for audiences of all ages, such as those likely to attend your International Games Day event… 

Qwirkle is a board game created by MindWare which has won numerous awards. It is designed for two to four players and play time is usually about a half hour to forty-five minutes.  I like to describe it as sudoku meets dominoes meets Scrabble.

The game is made up of 108 wooden blocks with a color and a shape on each. Each tile is one of six different shapes in one of six color options (so 36 different possibilities, and 3 copies of each).

To play, each player builds in a Scrabble-style grid off what is already on the board, to make lines of either matching shape or color. So it might be six squares, all of different colors; or one of each shape, all in the color blue. Each block that is added to a line scores points, and if they can make a complete line it is called a qwirkle and scores an extra 6 points. The player at the end of the game with the most points wins. For a fuller description of the rules, and to see some actual game play, check out the TableTop episode.

This game has become a favorite at my library. It is easy to pick up, and is pretty quick to play, so it is easy to squeeze in a game at the end of the day before I have to kick all the teens out. The actual play is pretty basic, but the strategy can become quite involved. There are any number of choices you can make each turn and you need to decide which will benefit you the most. But you are not playing in a vacuum – other players’ decisions will affect what you will be able to do. You can even specifically make moves that will block or stop another player from being able to make a good move. This leads to much yelling in both triumph and frustration. The game is simple enough for children and offers enough complex options for the strategy-minded player. One of my favorite parts is simply getting to shout “Qwirkle!” really loudly every time I complete a line.

I have also become a big fan of the travel edition, which plays exactly the same and comes in a nifty little pouch which is just the right size for Qwirkle plus a deck of cards or Fluxx.

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