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Qwixx

Reviewed by: Herb Levy

(Nürnberger-Spielkarten-Verlag, 2 to 5 players, ages 8 and up, about 15 minutes; about $10)

qwixxpicDice are one of those game components that are game constants; you see them almost everywhere. But after years and years of taking them for granted, the attraction that gamers have for dice can wane until dice can often be, well, boring. And that’s why, when a game manages to give some excitement to the roll of the dice, that’s a game worth talking about. And that brings us to Qwixx.

Qwixx, designed by Steffan Benndorf, comes in a small box just barely big enough to hold six dice, score sheets and rules. (You have to provide your own pencils.) The dice are your standard six-siders, two in white with one each in red, yellow, green and blue. It’s how these dice are used that give the game its character.

Everyone gets a score sheet. The sheet displays four rows of numbers in red, yellow, green and blue (matching the colors of the colored dice). The red and yellow rows run from 2 to 12; the green and blue rows run from 12 to 2. The challenge is to get as many numbers as you can in each row to score the most points. And this is how you do it.

The active player rolls all six dice. The number rolled on the white dice (for example, let’s say a 4 and a 2 are rolled making a 6) is available for ALL players to use. So everyone can mark off the number 6 on ANY of the colored rows. Now, the active player – and ONLY the active player – may take ONE of the colored dice and add to its number ONE of the numbers on either of the white dice. (To continue our example, let’s say the yellow die reads 1. The active player may add the white 2 rolled to that number and cross off 3 on the yellow row.) Play then passes to the next player in clockwise order and we repeat. Easy, right? Well, it’s not quite THAT easy!

You see the problem here is that once you mark a number on a row, you may NOT mark off any numbers to the LEFT of that number. If I marked the number 6 in the red column, for example, that means I man NOT cross off 2, 3, 4, or 5 on a subsequent turn. Getting numbers crossed off is important for several reasons. First, the more numbers crossed off in a row, the more points that row is worth when scoring is done. Second, if you have managed to cross off at least five numbers in a row, you may “lock” that row. Locking a row means rolling a 12 or a 2 (depending on the color row) which means that you get now cross off the final number in a row, get credit for an extra number crossed off in that row (two for the price of one in a sense) AND that color is now out of play and no one may add to their score on that row.

As the game progresses, it will become more difficult to cross off a number since the numbers available to be crossed will diminish (and you can’t cross off the same number twice). If the active player is unable to cross off a number, either by using the pair of white dice or a colored die/white die combo, he must mark that missed roll on his score sheet. When two rows are locked or when someone notches four misses on their score sheet, the game immediately ends and points are tallied.

Each row will score based on the amount of numbers crossed out, from a measly 1 point for 1 crossed out number to a massive 78 points if you have somehow managed to cross out ALL the numbers in a row. You deduct 5 points for each miss you have recorded. High score wins!

The clever design touch to the game is the way number runs are handled. Two rows go from 2 through 12 while the two others go from 12 to 2. This makes those very high and very low numbers valuable as crossing off one of these at the start of the game gives you room to accumulate cross-offs (and high scores). Ironically, the numbers that will come up more frequently (6s, 7s and 8s) can be a problem at the start as they, literally, cut your potential point scoring abilities in half! (Later in the game, of course, these numbers are just what you want.) This blend of rolled numbers with scoring opportunities give the game its decision making quality. Quixx is listed as for 2 to 5 players. Although, theoretically, an unlimited number can play, the dual option (using the white dice and a white die/colored die combination) gives the active player an advantage so four or less seems to be the best way to go. On the other hand, the game can also be played solo as you try to best your personal high score.

Qwixx has the qualities of both a perfect family game and ideal filler – easy to learn, quick to play – and uses the familiar components of dice in a colorful and satisfying way. Colorful + quality + quick + cute = Quixx. It all adds up!


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