Saturday, August 2, 2014

Pretty dice, and a game to go with them

Quarriors is another ingenious idea from Wizkids Games, the masterminds behind Heroclix who are so good at coming up with games that are really justifications for adults to play with plastic toys. Not that I have a problem with that. I only gave up collecting action figures because Heroclix gave me plastic figures and a game I could play with them.

Quarriors replaces little plastic superheroes with custom dice, and is sold as a boxed game with expansions rather than in random booster packs (for the collectible version, see Marvel Dice Masters). It takes its game play cues from Dominion and other deck building games, where the idea is to customize your deck during the game by adding cards from a common pool.

With Quarriors it's a pool of dice each player is creating, starting with a few generic dice representing currency (called "Quiddity" in the game) and some low-level characters. A random assortment of additional dice representing characters and spells is made available in the center of the table, and players use their Quiddity dice to purchase new and better dice which they can use to attack their opponents and, if they survive, score Glory points.

Each player's dice are kept in an opaque bag, and each turn the player starts by drawing and rolling six dice. Dice faces can come up as creatures of varying strength levels, Quiddity that is used to purchase more dice, or spell effects that can allow for re-rolls, drawing and rolling additional dice, or making creatures stronger. After your creatures are put into play, they attack each opponent's creatures in turn. Then each oppoenent takes their turn, and at the start of your next turn any creatures you still have in play score Glory points, and are then returned to your pool of dice to be drawn and rolled again. The game ends when one player gets to a certain amount of Glory points (determined by the number of players).

The base set alone comes with 130 dice representing many creatures and spells, and in turn each creature or spell has three different versions, so the game has a lot of replay value, and a good part of the strategy is in using what's been dealt at the beginning of the game. You can't rely on that favorite creature or spell being available every time. Add several expansions which add tons of new dice and new game mechanics such as corrupted dice that have negative effects, or the ability to send your creatures on quests for powerful Quartifacts.

The game play is solid and engaging, and the dice are of reasonable quality and very pretty to look at. The only thing about the game that I don't particularly care for is the goofy theme they chose to wrap it in. The somewhat cartoonish artwork on the cards is fine (and in many cases quite well done), but the marketing material and even the rule book are written in an obnoxious style that makes me think of a television presenter shouting at an audience of five-year-olds. Luckily it's not enough to interfere with my enjoyment of the game.

Rating: 4 (out of 5) A nice blend of strategy and random chance, with some lovely components in the form of custom printed dice.

Date played: June 22, 2014

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