Qwirkle Cubes: Can the son of Qwirkle live up to Dad’s reputation?

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Qwirkle from Mindware is one of the top selling games in the world. It also won the prestigious 2011 Spiel des Jahres award as “Game of the Year” in Germany. It’s simple, fun and one of my favorite games.

It’s become very common in the game industry for publishers to try and milk every penny out of a top-selling product by creating a host of offspring. So when the folks at Mindware asked me to look at Qwirkle Cubes, during the New York Toy Fair, I was wondering how it would stack up against the original. Did the acorn fall far from the tree or not?

Object of the game:

Just like Daddy, this game has players creating lines based on either color or shape. The difference is, instead of tiles you have dice. And dice can be rolled and re-rolled to change their value. You score points based on the number of cubes in a row and earn a Qwirkle bonus for making a line of 6 in a row.

Components:

You get a cloth bag to draw the cubes from along with 90 Qwirkle Cubes. There are 15 in each of the 6 colors. Each cube has all 6 of the Qwirkle shapes in the same color. You also get an instruction booklet which has the rules in English, French and Spanish. Lastly you get fairly flimsy corrugated cardboard box. It’s up to you to supply paper and pencil, so some other means, to keep score.

Game Play:

Each player starts the game by drawing 6 cubes and rolling them. Unlike Qwirkle, where your tiles are keep hidden from the other players, your cubes are visible for all to see. At the start of your turn you decide which of your cubes you want to re-roll and then roll them. You can choose any amount including none. Then, just like with Qwirkle, you add cubes to the grid. You can only add in one line and all the cubes you add must share a single attribute, either shape or color. You score points, the same as in Qwirkle, for the number of cubes in a line that you create. If you create a line of six then you shout out “Qwirkle” and get an extra six point bonus. Lastly, you draw cubes to bring your hand up to six and roll the new cubes. In one significant different from the original game, if you have no legal move then you re-roll all of your cubes until you can make a play.

How does junior stack up against his old man?

You can see other players cubes and that allows for more strategy in playing your turn. Of course your opponents will have the option of re-rolling, so you can’t be 100% sure what they’ll have when their turn begins. Since each cube has all 6 shapes in one color, the colors they have will not change, only the shapes. The re-roll rule gives you more opportunity to get that missing shape and again adds a strategy element that doesn’t exist in the original game. It’s the same basic game play but I think it’s a more strategic game as you know what colors your opponent has. In fact, I like that aspect of the game so much that the next time I play Qwirkle I’m planning on trying it with the tiles visual to all players.

What’s not to like?

The only feature of Qwirkle Cubes that I don’t like is the box. That’s right, the box. It’s what the packing industry calls a Tuck Top Snap Lock Bottom (TTSLB) box. It’s what I call flimsy. I’ve never seen a TTSLB game box hold up over time. They aren’t designed for lots of opening and closing. It wouldn’t be a problem if Qwirkle Cubes was a crappy game. However it’s a great game and that means the box, like doors on the bus, will get opened and closed all day long.

Highly Recommended: