Guest Review : Quarriors

Quarriors Game Box & Layout
Quarriors Game

In Quarriors, you and your opponents must quest for glory by purchasing spells and monsters that will allow you to destroy enemy critters while keeping your own alive. This is accomplished by gathering and spending “Quiddity”. Quarriors can be played by 2-4 players and takes very little time – usually between 15 and 30 minutes. This quick and quirky synthesis of a dice game and a deck-building game delivers fast, light entertainment, but suffers from a handful of minor drawbacks.

Appearance: Quarriors is generally pretty easy on the eyes. It is a light game with a light-hearted theme, and this is reflected in the cartoony art style of the cards. The die-shaped tin is also a nice touch. The dice themselves – there are 130 (!) custom dice in the game – are solid and intricately-designed. However, the relatively small size of the dice combined with the complexity of some of the patterns can be frustrating when you have to read a tiny number at the centre of a swirling vortex.

Rules/Ease of Learning: Players who are familiar with deck-building games such as Dominion or Thunderstone will catch on to the central mechanics of Quarriors very quickly. Newcomers to such games will not be unduly handicapped; the rules are simple, and even a complete board game novice should be able to pick them up in a matter of minutes.

In Quarriors, each player starts with a set number and distribution of dice. These dice are placed in the player’s dice bag. Each game, there will also be some creatures and spells, randomly chosen, which make up the rest of the available dice.

At the beginning of a round, the active player randomly draws six dice from the bag and rolls them. The starting dice might allow players to produce Quiddity, summon a creature, or reroll dice (or any combination of the three). Purchased dice may include spell abilities or allow players to draw extra dice for the turn.

After a player has finished rolling, it is time to decide what to do with them. The Quiddity produced by the die roll may be used to either purchase a new die or to summon as many creatures as you can afford. Spells may be cast using Quiddity as well, and most spells can either be cast immediately or kept ready in front of the player until they are needed.

Creatures attack each opponent as soon as they are summoned, dealing damage according to the attack score in the upper-right corner of the die. Like all summoners worth their salt, players in Quarriors use their conjured creatures to soak up damage that is directed their way. If there are no creatures to absorb incoming damage, nothing happens. If a creature receives more damage than their defense score in the lower-right corner of the die, they… well, die. If a summoned creature survives until a player’s next turn, the player places the die into their used pile and scores glory according to the value on the die. When a player reaches a preset amount of glory, they are victorious.

Gameplay: Quarriors is a very quick, light game. The strategy involved is not very deep; often the best path to victory seems quite clear from the beginning – buy the biggest monster and/or the best spells whenever possible. This is certainly not the case in the more robust deck-building games upon which Quarrior’s central mechanic was based, such as Dominion. In those games, there are often several different potential paths to victory.

As a result, the real variation in player performance in Quarriors seems to depend entirely on chance. The random nature of dice rolls, combined with a second layer of randomness in pulling dice from your bag, adversely affects any potential strategy. Quarriors can therefore be a very frustrating experience for those – such as myself – who do not like a high degree of luck in their games.

That being said, this is a *dice* game. If you come into a game involving 130 dice looking for deep strategy, of course you’re going to be disappointed. It is an enjoyable, well-constructed game, and many of the balancing issues can be easily fixed. Some of the creatures are ludicrously overpowered (*cough* I’m looking at you, Quake Dragon), and removing them will probably double your enjoyment of the game.

One thing that Quarriors definitely has going for it is game length. Quarriors is probably the only game I’ve ever played that regularly takes *less* time than the estimate printed on the box. Teaching the rules and setting up a game for the first time will likely take longer than the game itself. Some find it too short, and offset the game length by bumping up the glory required to win. I am certainly not one for so-called “house rules” in games, but Quarriors does seem to need a bit of after-market tweaking.

Conclusion: Quarriors is a quick, quirky quest. If you don’t expect Quarriors to be anything but the goofy, light, fast dice game that it is, you won’t be disappointed. It is a very interesting take on the now-tried-and-true deck-building mechanic that we know and love, and may serve as a useful introduction into the deck-building world for younger players or for those who don’t like shuffling. Those who thirst for more strategy and more control over the game can move on to deck-building games such as Dominion or Thunderstone, and those who don’t can keep on Quarrioring.