Qwirkle - Weird Name, Fun Game
Fun and addictive with a distinct element of strategy, Qwirkle is a board game that's been winning awards and rave reviews from parents and consumers alike.
Created by MindWare, a company whose tag line is "brainy toys for kids of all ages", it's no surprise that Qwirkle contains elements of education along with good old-fashioned fun. From its rating on Amazon, however - currently sitting at #2 in the Board Games category - the game has done well in ensuring that the fun overshadows the learning, and has grabbed the attention of a wide age range of children.
The game itself is fairly simple - there are 108 blocks in the game that come in six shapes and six colors (3 duplicates of each color/shape combination). Playing the game involves creating lines that are either all one color or all one shape, and they cannot exceed six blocks in length. Once a line reaches six blocks it is known as a "Qwirkle" and no more blocks can be added to it.
Lines may not go diagonally, and duplicate tiles are not allowed in any line. For example, a line of squares that already has one red square cannot have another, and a line of multiple colors cannot have two yellow pieces.
Points are scored based on how many tiles are added to a line - one point for each tile. If a block is part of two lines, it will score two points instead of one, and players also receive a six point bonus for completing a Qwirkle.
At the beginning of the game, each player draws six blocks from a face down pile. When it is a player's turn, they may place one or more blocks, but if multiple blocks are placed they must be part of the same line. A player may also choose to exchange some or all of their tiles with those still the pile and place no blocks. Once a player's turn is done, they must draw from the pile to bring their hand back up to six blocks. The game ends when no more tiles can be placed.
Reviews on Amazon are overwhelmingly positive with the only concern being that a recent production run of the game featured chipped tiles and a poor paint job, but all reviews regarding the "fun factor" of the game are outstanding. The game has also received the Parents' Choice Gold Award, the Mensa Award and the Major Fun award, according to the MindWare Web site.
So, as Christmas approaches and parents scramble to fill stockings and wrap presents, a Qwirkle under the tree might just be the thing for both holiday fun and intense strategy action when the big day arrives.