Designer: Mike Elliot and Eric Lang
Artists: J. Lonnee and Chris Raimo
Publisher: WizKids Games
Playing time: 30 minutes
Age range: 14+ (10+ could probably handle it)
(Image courtesy of ZoRDoK@BoardGameGeek)
Where Dominion created the idea of the deck-building game, Quarriors! cheerfully took that and applied it almost directly to dice. You start with a basic set of custom 6-sided dice, and draw a “hand” out of a bag every turn and roll them. Depending on what you roll, you can put out creatures to attack your opponents, cast spells to enhance them, and/or buy a new creature or spell from the wilds (much like the supply piles in Dominion). All of these are represented by dice. If you can keep your creatures out for an entire round, you score points; the first player to a certain point value — based on the number of players — wins.
Each die you have has different faces. Usually 2 or 3 of the six give you 1 or 2 quiddity, which is the money in the game you use to bring creatures out and buy new dice. The remainder either represent the spell ability or the creature ability, again, usually with 3 different levels from low to high powered. Whatever you roll is what you get for that die — though some faces allow you to perform re-rolls.
Besides the change from cards to dice, the key difference between Quarriors! and Dominion is the battling. When you roll any dice that have a creature side up, you can choose to pay their costs and bring them out. Each creature has an attack and a defense value, marked on the die. There’s also a card associated with each die color, which tells you what special abilities that creature has. Once you bring any creatures out, you automatically fight with all the other players’ creatures, one player at a time. You add up your creatures’ attack values, and then your opponent chooses one creature to defend with. If your attack value matches or exceeds their defense value, their creature is defeated. You subtract their defense from your attack value and attack again. Once you can’t exceed their defense, you stop, reset your attack value, and go on to the next player. If someone’s creature manages to survive until their next turn, they remove that creature’s die and score points depending on what’s marked on the creature’s card.
The key to the game are the special abilities. Some creatures are better at defense, and so are good to put out to try to survive the entire round. Others are devastating at attacks and are good to put out and eliminate other players. Others can copy other players’ dice. Still others can regenerate after being eliminated. You also have one of three spell dice you can purchase, which can add to your attack or defense, or give you other special abilities. Each die color has multiple cards that can be applied to it and which are randomized, so every game gives you a completely different feel.
The components are great — you get a large set of custom dice, a deck of cards with the dice abilities, dice bags and a score sheet. The main downside is that the dice seem to be laid out for people with better eyesight than I — the lettering is quite small and so sometimes hard to read. I can understand that making the dice larger would increase the cost considerably (you get a *lot* of dice) but, still, it would have be nice. The cards, on the other hand, have nice art and are quite readable. Another minor quibble is that the score sheet is laid out in a grid but winds back and forth in a serpentine manner, which can be confusing. But all in all, you get a lot for your money.
The game plays very well, and is easy to teach (I described it to my 10-year-old daughter as Pokemon with dice, and she caught on quickly). It’s also surprisingly balanced — one player might break out ahead, but then tends to stall as other players catch up. And if things don’t work out this time, the game is short enough that you can try again quickly. If there’s one downside it’s that the randomness of the ability cards can make some dice useless in some games, or at least less useful than other dice. But overall, we have great fun with Quarriors! If it supported more than 4 players, we’d play it even more than we do now.
Rating: Highly Recommended