Quarriors is a must-buy tabletop game for 2011 and may very well be the best game released this calendar year.
Quarriors, published by WizKids, creates its own subdivision of the deck building game genre by doing it with dice as the major mechanic and using cards to randomize the board and as a reference tool.
Mike Elliott, who designed the game with Eric Lange, explained, “The deck building mechanic came first. We basically started with the idea of ‘Where could we go with the deck building mechanic?’ and hit on the idea of dice as an interesting extension.”
Interesting hardly does it justice. Players try to summon creatures to the board in one turn and keep them alive until the beginning of the next to score glory points, which are the means to winning the game. There are three types of basic dice and then the rest of the 130 dice in the game comes in the form of spells and creatures.
Those dice come from an area called The Wilds, a common locale in the center of the table from which all plays may capture the Quarry (dice). The dice are paid for with Quiddity. Quarriors, Quarry, Quiddity? The names carry a distinctive feel.
How much thought went into the deal? “Quite a bit actually - while we thought about a "serious" name, when the game kept coming in under 30 minutes and the playtesters kept saying this game is all about fun and how unusual it felt playing it, we wanted to embrace that rather than trying to be another non-descript fantasy designator,” said Bryan Kinsella, Vice President and Producer of the game. “Quiddity (the resource that is used in the game to purchase and power quarry) is an existing word that means the essence of the thing – and since you use dice to capture dice - well we had our name and it could also be shortened to "quid" by the players. Also - the 'Q' words are not really used that often - and most creatures have names like deathdealer, ooze and ghost, so it's not in your face during game play.”
Quarriors can be played by two to four players and another of its many strengths is the way the game scales to those numbers. “About the same - the game scales requiring more victory points with two players, so it ends up being about 30 minutes even with fewer players,” said Elliott about the length of the games.
The designers wanted the game to have a moderately short game time and that proved to be one of the challenges in making the finished product.
“The game length was probably the hardest thing to get where we wanted it,” said Elliott. We wanted the game to play in about 20-40 minutes and we kept having to adjust a number of things including the point totals and the creature defenses to hit the right length. Because it is a light play game, you want the game to be relatively short, but still long enough that players feel like they developed their strategy. Getting the balance right took a lot of work.”
The gamer is the beneficiary of all of that work. Quarriors will make a big splash in early August at GenCon in nearby Indianapolis. “We will be demoing it extensively, however units for sale will be limited in quantity and number per purchase,” said Kinsella.
Bringing the game to market offered its own challenges as well. “Getting 130 dice, 4 dice bags, 53 cards and all the associated components that would retail for around $50 dollars was the hardest part,” said Kinsella. The dice, though just slightly smaller than is typical for gaming products, are still of very high quality, as are the cards.
Players have already been taken by the innovation and concepts in this game and are looking toward the future plans for the game. “We hope to have the first expansion out this calendar year,” said Kinsella.
Quarriors perhaps isn’t for everyone. Some games place strategy and layers of complexity as a top priority and then make the game as much fun as they can. Quarriors seems to have created a fun gaming experience and then added strategy and tactics as heavy as possible without taking away the fun. Kudos to the game designers and to WizKids.