on June 2, 2009
Setting aside the fact that Qwirkle (the tile version) has won the Major Fun Keeper Award, and resisting any attempt to compare Mindware's Qwirkle (the tile version) to Mindware's Qwirkle Cubes (the dice version), let us proceed as if there were no precedent, and treat Qwirkle Cubes for the unique game it really is. O, sure, we could compare. We could even contrast. But we shall set these temptations aside, for the nonce, at least.
Qwirkle Cubes comes in a Qwirkle Cubes box that is cleverly cube-like. Open the cleverly cube-like box and you find a sturdy cloth drawstring bag, under which are packaged 90 wooden cubes. You release the cubes from their plastic wrappedness, allowing them to cascade onto the table and make a pleasingly muted woodish sound. You fondle them, because they, in their lovingly polished one-inch, wooden, dice-like way, almost beg you to do so. You roll them, observing how each die has a different shape on each face, all of the same color. And, further, how there are six different colors of dice. And then you place all 90 of these smoothly finished colorful cubes into the bag, as instructed.
You are now ready to play. So you, and another, or perhaps 2 or 3 others, take turns extracting 6 dice from the bag. You place those dice in front of you. Perhaps you give them one more roll, just to celebrate the randomness of it all. And so the game begins.
You all look at your dice. Do you notice perhaps a pattern? Are some of your dice of the same color, and each of those dice showing a different shape? Are more of your dice all showing the same shape, and each a different color? Whoever has the longest of either of the aforementioned goes first.
From then on, you take turns, adding to the grid in crossword-fashion, gathering points for the number of dice you place, and for any adjacent rows or columns of dice you add your dice to, garnering yet 6 more points should you complete a row or column of same-color, different shape symbols. One might be tempted to compare it to something a game of rummy played Scrabble®-fashion. Ah, so simple, so easy to learn, and yet, so rife with strategic significance and tactical titillation.
Before you take your turn, you may, if you so desire, re-roll any or all of your dice. And herein lies the wrinkle of conceptual delight that, dare we compare, is new, even to those who play Qwirkle (the tile game). You see, everyone can see what everyone has. Unlike that other Qwirkle game to which we are not referring, there is nothing hidden. But that very openness is thought-provoking, to say the least. Now that you can see the other players' hands, you have everso much more to analyze. And, in being able to re-roll your dice, you find yourself with the yet further thought-provoking opportunity to see what fate has so far hidden from you. A decision to make. A risk to take. True, you can do nothing about the color of the symbols. But equally true, with the re-rolling option, you might be able to change the shape. So you ponder, and roll, and combine, and add to the ever-unfolding matrix (which is conveniently less table-top-consuming than the matrix that ever-unfolds when playing Qwirkle (the tile game).
The more you play, the deeper your appreciation for the strategic implications of playing with dice, and the clearer it becomes to you that Qwirkle Cubes (the dice game) really can't be compared to Qwirkle (the tile game), even though the colors and shapes and rules for matching and the designer (Susan McKinley Ross) are the same. If you already own one, you will probably want the other, not because it's better or more portable or cuter, but because it's unique, and it's uniquely fun. The symmetry of both versions (6 colors, 6 shapes), the visual, conceptual puzzles they both present make both games endlessly fascinating. The dice really make a difference. And so do the tiles. If you own neither, you should consider buying either. Or both. For kids (probably at least 8 years old). For adults. For families. Maybe 10 minutes to learn. Maybe 30 minutes to play. Fun that makes you think. Fun that even, from time to time, makes you laugh. Fun, most satisfyingly Major FUN.
In fact, we find the FUN so Major that we have come to play more for the glory than the score. Just making some spectacular play, using all the dice on one turn, completing a row and adding on to two or even three more all at the same time - is so wonderfully satisfying that winning, dare I say it, seems almost besides the point.
on September 19, 2011
Ok, I'll try to keep this short. Quirkle is a great game. I like Quirkle Cubes more. It's more enjoyable to just re-roll than have to throw everything back in the bag and redraw new pieces.
I had difficulty rating this game, because I really do like the game, but not the way it was made. Wood is a fine material for many things, but it makes washing a board game difficult and can damage it. So, wood games appear to wear out faster for me, even though I make everyone wash their hands before playing them. I wish they'd used the same material used to make regular dice. Also, while I get that the box is made to look like a cube, it just makes it harder to store with my other games and transport to board game clubs. It's always the odd duck that doesn't fit and I have to put it on top of everything else.
All that being said, I could still give this game a 4/5 if it weren't for the decals they put on the cubes. Instead of using etchings, stickers, durable paint, or any number of options that would last a long time, they chose decals. After one game (and not washing or even wiping the cubes) I've already had decals peal away. As a result, it's difficult to tell what the symbols are.
I've decided that while I like the game, I don't like the materials so much that I'm not going to play the game with the cubes they provide. I'm going to buy a bunch of black dice with white pips and color 15 of each in red, orange, yellow, green, blue, and purple. Then I'll play the game with colored dice using pips and colors instead of shapes and colors. It's worth the extra durability to me. I can also buy 100 black dice for less than the cost of the game. But, it's not a total loss. I have the printed instructions from the game.
I wish they'd thought out the materials they used more or just done some simple durability tests. When I can make something cheaper and more durable at home that works just as well, I feel cheated by companies.
If you buy the game, I recommend using a sealer to protect the decals before playing the game. It's a lot of extra work, but otherwise the game will wear out very quickly.
on February 12, 2012
Quirkle Cubes is a very good game. It is simple enough for children to play, yet diverse enough for adults to get absorbed.
Q.C. shares the growing-grid aspect recognizable from Scrabble and BananaGrams.
Q.C. also shares the principle of mixing and matching various traits (like color or shape) that is the foundation of games like Clue, Quarto, and Set.
We found ourselves playing the game not quite by the exactly correct rules the first couple meetings, which somehow motivated me to re-write the same rules in my own words. Here is my draft of the rules FWIW.
QUIRKLE CUBES - THE RULES
* My Write-up of the Same Rules to my Taste *
[A] You earn points by strategically placing your cubes along a row or column to extend the grid of rows and columns. Chains of adjacent cubes must match on color or shape icon, but not both.
[B] The longer your chains of adjacent cubes are on a turn, the more points you score that turn.
[A] 90 game cubes, 15 cubes for each of 6 colors: red, orange, yellow, green, blue, violet. Each face of a cube one of 6 shapes painted on: star, circle, diamond, square, clover, X. Each cube has all 6 shapes, all the same color.
(Realization: at a hobby shop you could buy 15 standard six-sided red dice, plus 15 orange dice, plus 15 yellow dice etc, and you would have the equivalent of the Quirkle Cubes game. However, buy the official game seems cheaper.)
[B] A draw bag to mix-up and hide the cubes that players will draw from during the game.
[C] A hard or firm surface to play the cubes on. Most carpets are not firm enough.
[D] An imaginary grid of squares, packed into rows and columns, onto which cubes will be played during the game.
[E] Paper and pencil to keep score.
[F] 2, 3, or 4 players.
 Gather paper and pencil to keep score.
 Place all 90 cubes in the bag.
 Each player blindly draws six cubes from the bag.
 Each player rolls all his initial six cubes together, once. Each player leaves his cubes in full view at all times. Cubes should never be handled carelessly because players might be unsure which shape was upward on the cube before it was accidentally dropped and randomized.
STANDARD TURN FOR A PLAYER
 Optional: Start a per-turn timer. 90 seconds per turn is a reasonable duration for experienced players. A typical game might consist of 40 turns.
 Choose which and how many of your six cubes you want to re-roll, if any. You get one roll for 0-to-6 of your cubes at the start of your turn, and no more rolls during your turn.
 Decide which and how many of your six cubes you want to add to the grid. If you are unable to add even one cube to the grid, you are disqualified from continuing and your cubes are added back into the bag. (This rarely or never happens.)
 Add your cubes to the grid. Count your score aloud one cube at a time to help others understand your play.
 Ensure your score is updated on the scoresheet. For each turn, write both the number of points earned that turn, and the running sum of points earned so far by the player during the game.
 After you add your cubes to the grid, blindly draw enough cubes from the bag to bring your set back to six.
FIRST TURN TO START THAT STARTS THE GAME
 Unless another option is chosen, the oldest person plays the game's first turn.
 On the game's first turn only, you are required to play as long a chain of adjacent cubes as you legally can.
 If you cannot start the game by creating the grid with at least two cubes, you must re-roll all your cubes until you are able to create the grid with at least two cubes.
 Subsequent turns move clockwise to the next players; meaning the second player is the person who is on the immediate left of the player who started the game.
RULES FOR ADDING CUBES TO THE GRID PER TURN
** RULES FOR ADJACENT CUBES ON A LINE:
[A] All cubes adjacent to each cube that you add must share exactly one attribute or "trait" with your added cube. The only two traits of a cube are the color and shape of the icon on the upward face of a cube.
** RULES FOR YOUR ADDED CUBES:
[B] All the cubes you add must be on a single line (meaning a single row or column; diagonals do not matter in this game).
[C] The cubes you add do not need to form an unbroken chain of adjacent cubes: several spaces can separate the cubes you add!
[D] All the cubes you add must share exactly one trait with each other; either a common color or a common shape. This requirement applies regardless of whether the cubes you add are all adjacent to each other.
[D] Any chain of all-red color cubes must not repeat any shape.
[E] Any chain of all-circle shapes must not repeat any color.
[F] Therefore the longest line that a chain of adjacent cubes can form is six cubes long. Any seventh cube of the same color would duplicate a shape; and any seventh cube of the same shape would duplicate a color. Such duplications are illegal.
SCORING FOR THE CUBES YOU ADD TO THE GRID
[A] Suppose a chain of 3 adjacent cubes on a horizontal row exists when your turn arrives. You add 2 cubes that extend the chain to 5 cubes. You would earn 5 points from that row chain.
[B] Further, suppose 1 of your 2 added cubes also extends the length of an existing chain of 2 adjacent cubes on a vertical column. You would earn an additional 3 points from that column chain.
[C] Suppose you add a cube that connects two existing row chains that had been separated by a space (where your cube now sits). You would earn a point for every cube that is in the new long chain.
[D] Suppose you extend a chain to the maximum length of 6 cubes: this is called a Quirkle. You would earn the usual 6 points, plus you earn the Quirkle bonus of 6 more points.
[E] A chain that is only 1 cube long does not earn you any points.
ENDING THE GAME
[A] When there are no more cubes to draw from the bag, turns continue as before, except that players cannot replenish their hand of cubes.
[B] The game ends when one player has no more cubes left in his hand, and the bag of cubes is empty.
[C] The player with the highest point total wins.
[D] Optional: Players could agree on a 1 to Many points per cube penalty for all cubes remaining in other players' hands when the game ends.
[A] Suppose the grid contains a chain of 5 red cubes, and the only shape the chain lacks is the (red) star.
At the start of your turn you know that you happen to have no red cubes presently.
You see that the next player clockwise has no red cubes, so you know he is no threat to earn the Quirkle bonus.
The further person clockwise has two red cubes, but neither is showing the star shape. If he re-rolls both his red cubes, his chance of having at least one of his red cubes roll to a star is 33%. You weigh that fact and decide not to worry because he is far behind you in points so far in the game.
The further and final person clockwise has only one red cube, but it is showing a star. This person and you are leading with the same number of points so far in the game, so you do not want him to get the Quirkle bonus. Therefore you add a cube to the grid that is adjacent to the only space where his red star can create the Quirkle, and your cube is a green clover: your cube eliminates the Quirkle option at that space. (Such defensive maneuvers might make good strategy more often in a two player game than in a four player game.)
[B] A good player recognizes opportunities to add to both rows and columns with the same added cubes on his turn.
[C] A good player recognizes opportunities to add his cubes to the grid where spaces will exist between some of his added cubes along the line.
[D] A good player compares the grid to the shapes and especially the colors of the cubes in the hands of the other players. This helps him decide whether to prevent certain options with the cubes he is about to add.
[E] A good player can look at a chain of five red cubes are quickly ascertain which shape it needs for a Quirkle. And he can look at a chain of five stars and quickly ascertain which color it needs for a Quirkle.