Qwirkle is an elegant tile game, easy to learn and understand, visually inviting, and increasingly challenging as the game progresses.
There are 108 thick, wooden tiles – thick enough to stand on end, like dominoes. Each tile is imprinted with one of six shapes in one of six colors. Players take turns, adding to an increasingly complex grid of tiles, the rule being that to place a tile it must be either of the same color or shape as the adjacent tiles. You can place several tiles, as long as they are in one line.
Each player starts out with 6 tiles, and replenishes her hand after each play. The game continues until all 108 tiles have been played.
Your score for the turn depends on the number of tiles in the rows or columns adjacent to the tiles you’ve just placed. So, if one of your tiles brings the number of tiles in a row to, say, 4, and the number of tiles in a column to, for example, 3, you’d score 7 points for that one tile. If your tile is the sixth in a row or column of tiles of the same shape or color, you’d score twice as many points (12). As more tiles are placed, there are more choices, so the search for the high scoring play becomes more and more complex.
The challenge is both visual and logical, clear enough to engage a school-age child, and complex enough to invite serious, adult competition. Most importantly, though it is a competitive game, the competition is gentle and inviting. You win more by your ability to find the best possible placement for your pieces than you do by trying to keep your opponent from scoring.
In fact, so satisfying was it to get a high score in any single turn was that we really didn’t need to keep a cumulative score. We could admire each other’s genius (and luck), while more or less competing to see if one of our plays could score even higher.
Qwirkle is designed by Susan McKinley Ross