Sunday, August 14, 2011

A Direction for this Blog

To give people an idea of my intent with this blog:

I would like to make new posts to this blog at least once a week (targeting Saturdays).
Those posts will consist of reviews, session reports, new games I'm receiving or playing, thoughts on mechanics, themes, players, game design, and anything else boardgame related that I feel would make a worthy addition to this blog.

Sunday, August 07, 2011

Royal's Reviews #1 - Quarriors - Faults of an Otherwise Fun Game

This is my first review so bear with me here. I intend to use a "The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly" format to discuss my opinions about the game.

Background: I have played two 3 player and one 4 player game of Quarriors


Quarriors is a 2-4 player Deck Building Game where the twist is that you use dice instead of cards. The game lasts around 30 minutes or so.

Each turn you'll draw 6 dice from your draw bag and then roll them. Out of these, you can set spells aside to use later and then use any quiddity you rolled to summon any creatures you rolled and/or to buy one new die. After you summon creatures, they attack each player in turn with a fresh attack until you have attacked all players. Then you discard your used dice (aside from summoned creatures or set aside spells). If your creatures survive all of the other players' turns, you score points for them and get to cull (return to the supply) some of your dice from your discard.

I'm not going to go deep into the gameplay and the components as those have already been covered to quite an extent, but rather skip straight to the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly.

The Good

There is a major fun factor in Quarriors. Rolling dice = fun!

This game plays fast.

This can also be quite an addictive game that will have you wanting to play again and again.

Lots of replayability due to number of different cards. There are 10 classes of creatures, with 3 versions of each. You only play with 7 out of 30 each time. There are 5 different classes of spells, with 4 versions of each. You only play with 3 out of 20 each time. This allows many many different combinations of cards for unique games.

The Bad

The dice rolling is a double-edged sword. You can have the best dice in the world... and it might not matter at all. You could have crappy dice and pull off getting 4 points all the way around. Something to be aware of.

There is all but no way to bash a leader in this game. The one exception is the Death Spell dice. That's it, and only if they're even in the game. Otherwise, everything hits everybody. So if someone pulls away, tough.

Only being able to buy 1 die a turn makes the idea of building a money engine more or less a waste and you quickly have the ability to buy the most expensive creatures (6-8 cost), so not much complexity there. This also makes the spells be underused due to trying to compete with high value creatures.
Also, we often bought all of the 6-8 cost creatures first and then had to later start buying the cheap costing creatures to keep improving... which doesn't really make any sense thematically... You should keep improving, not have to busy yourself by taking the leftovers.

The 2-3 cost Creatures feel like a waste as you often have plenty enough money that you can buy more valuable creatures for at least 4-5 cost.

Culling doesn't do this in a major way, but it does help a rich get richer situation. Culling almost only occurs when scoring creatures (the exception being one of the 30 creature cards). So, if you're doing well, you get to improve your deck. Problematic...

And you can't just put out swarms of creatures to try to cull a lot for various reasons:
1 - You can only buy one creature per turn, so any money leftover is wasted
2 - The more expensive creatures are much better than the little ones. They're better in making quiddity, killing little ones, surviving, and scoring points. And when you have the money, and you'd waste it otherwise, why buy anything else??
3 - A swarm of those would be exactly what you want to cull... :shake:

Maybe there isn't enough ability to cull either. Maybe that's part of what takes away from the feeling of being able to build your deck.

The game can run into a problem where you can build a great deck and it completely doesn't matter. This can be fun in a random sense but also can be quite frustrating.

The Ugly

The scoreboard is a mess. It should continue going left to right as it goes down and is a small but annoying hindrance. Also, the scoring markers are similar in color: dark green, dark blue, and black. The fourth color is red. Another minor hindrance, but it would have been an easy fix and should have been corrected in playtesting.

At least two creature types need some faqs - Ooozes due to timing issues and Ghosts due to a possible misprint/mistake

Minor complaint - two of the blue colored sets of dice (one set a creature and one a spell) are very similar in color and the creature's blue dice should have been darker to match the color on the cards, which would have solved the similar color problem.

The Beautiful

This game has many beautiful dice in it which make it fun to look at (and play with!).

There is some nice artwork on the cards.

Other Notes

Quiddity was a horrible choice for the name of the currency imo. I found myself saying mana numerous times during the game and I haven't played Magic in years and years. Quiddity is just a messy word to try saying all throughout the game.

The 1/6 chance reroll on the starting Assistant (which allows you to reroll two dice - itself and one other) can be insane... especially when combined with Portals (which allow you to roll additional dice from your draw bag). A giant chain of rerolls where a player can attain tons of quiddity and creatures can result. This can be fun, but also could be frustrating if someone pulled off a huge amount of points via one big lucky turn with this combo..

Be careful when playing to look at the card for the glory points as they are not on the dice. I think it will be easy for new players to look at their levels instead, which are printed on the dice.

It doesn't really feel like you're capturing wild creatures and then summoning your creatures. It feels like you're collecting dice and rolling them. This works plenty well enough for me, but it might turn some off.

Royal's Turf (Final Thoughts)

I enjoyed this game quite a bit the first game, with 3 players. Still a fair bit the second time with 3 players. The third time, with 4 players, not nearly so much. This was for a few reasons. One reason was that I was starting to see more problems with the game as the shine began to wear off and the flaws became more apparent. The other reason was due to the time. With 4 players the game just takes too long. Yes, the points to win are reduced to 12 from 15, but it's not enough. That one extra player adds enough downtime and also increases how much everyone's creatures die. Thus Game length is dealt a double blow. 4 player also creates a higher chance one player will have a breakaway lead, statistically. Oh, and if you're playing with the Death Spell dice, bashing the leader happens and can help lessen the runaway leader problem... but also considerably lengthen the game too. I would recommend playing with less that 4 players.

Ultimately, while I enjoyed this game immensely the first time I played, after three plays I have removed it from my list of games I want to buy. There are just too many problems with the game. It can't be denied that there is something incredibly fun and addictive to all the dice rolling in this game and some people will be able to overlook the problems that I mentioned and enjoy this game. Others like myself will wait around for someone to make a better Dice Building Game as I expect Quarriors to be successful enough to inspire more games.

My final rating - 4: Not so good, doesn't work for me, but I could be talked into playing it.