Wednesday, October 26, 2011
I recently tried to pick up some games that might be fun to play with my wife and potentially other friends who are not intense games. One game I thought to try is Quarriors.
Quarriors is a new game published by WizKids and it came with a lot of positive and negative buzz. I picked it up because it looked light and simple and a good choice for a two player game with the wife. Quarriors is a "deck building" game. Instead of building a deck of cards you play with dice. Players start with a small selection of dice and each turn they draw six randomly from bag and roll them. At first the dice simply give you game money with which you can "buy" a fantasy creature of some sort- a dragon, or wizard, or warrior for example. Once you buy a "dragon" you place a dragon die in you bag and it becomes part of your supply. As you can imagine as you add dragons, oozes, and witch dice to your bag you increase your chances of rolling those dice when you draw your random six. If you draw a dragon die and roll well you can then "summon" a dragon to fight for you. If your dragon survives a round of combat you score points and the first person to score a set number of points wins.
The idea behind deck building games is that you add cards or dice to your supply that you think will be helpful in later turns. Then other players add things in their turns that might counter your choices or they might just follow their own strategies. Deck building games are great for people who like to shape their own strategies and fine tune their games. They can have huge replay value and prompt lots of deep strategy.
Quarriors uses dice instead of cards and that is the source of its great strength and its great weakness. Rolling dice is fun. In Quarriors you get to roll lots of them! Further, it's exciting to roll and hope to get lucky and summon powerful creatures. At the same time, it's frustrating to roll your dragon dice and not actually get any dragons because of bad luck. Serious deck building players dislike Quarriors because of the luck factor. The truth is that Quarriors is not a serious game and probably shouldn't be approached in the same spirit as one approaches, say, Dominion. Quarriors is fast, light, and not very strategic.
We've played Quarriors a few times now. My wife picked up on it in no time and she had a good time playing. I think we've had better times playing different games but probably each of those took twice as long to learn. So for now I think of Quarriors as a great introduction game for young players, as a good game for casual players or as a filler for experienced players. It's fast and colorful and not un-fun, but not the next big thing.
Blood Bowl Team Manager is a game I've been looking at wistfully for a while now. Blood Bowl is a game in which fantasy creatures play a version of football against each other. I always thought it sounded like a lot of fun and also appealingly silly, as it features all manner of fierce monsters dressed up in pads and throwing a ball around in a medieval stadium. I never got the chance to play Blood Bowl but when the boardgame came on the market it sounded like a chance to get a taste of the experience without painting the miniatures and finding other players.
I got my first chance to play Team Manager tonight and this is one fun, simple game. Each player has a team of elves, dwarves, orcs, or what-not and has to help the team win a series of football games. The player's team's race may give it certain advantages- for example, orcs are great at tackling while elves are very speedy. In each game round there are a number of Blood Bowl games being played. Players can choose which games their teams will compete in and then take turns adding their players into the games. The winning team in a given game may get additional fans, special additional players, or some special bonus ability which can be used in future games. After five rounds of play the team with the most fans wins the game.
The strategy of Team Manager stems from deciding which game has the best rewards associated with it and then allocating your players well. Orc players may look for chances to tackle weaker opponents, elf players may wait till some crucial moment and then unleash their towering tree-man. You may decide to add star players to your team or try and pump it up with bonus powers an special abilities. The decision making is deep enough to be interesting but not intimidating.
The essence of Team Manager is that it's simple and, at heart, silly. The cover suggests some brutal and aggressive sports game but in reality it's quite goofy. This game features giant rats playing football. It features giant walking tree men playing football. This is not a serious game. The rules are brief and easy to learn. There is a decent amount of luck and while careful players will do well there is plenty of room for a casual player to walk away feeling satisfied. Probably my only complaint about the game is that the cover art could have been a little sillier.
That aside, this is a good fun game with lots of replay value. I'll be introducing it to my non-gaming friends and I think it'll be a hit. Certainly it's appropriate for teens and up and would be a fun family game as well.