These days there seems to be a trend of taking your favorite board game and making it into a roll and write. Imperial Settlers. Escape. Copenhagen. Alhambra. All have new roll and write versions recently (or coming soon). But today we are going the wrong way… we are taking our favorite roll and write and making it into a card game. Although, it is basically just a flip and write now.
So, if you have and love Qwixx, should you be running out to your local game store and buying the card version? Let’s take a look.
If you are familiar with Qwixx, all of this will sound very familiar. You have four rows numbered 2-12 on a piece of paper. The red and yellow rows start at 2 and increase from left to right. The blue and green start at 12 and work their way down.
What you won’t find here: dice. Instead, you’ll start your turn drawing cards from a tableau of four cards in the center of the table. The backs of the cards are visible and show the number but not the color. After you draw up to your hand size of 5, the center row refills. Then, all players can choose to (but aren’t required) to mark off a number in any of the rows using the value of the card on top of the deck.
Then you’ll play 1-3 cards of the same color from your hand. If you can mark off some or all the matching boxes, you can. If you can’t mark off any boxes, you take a 5-point penalty. The rules for marking off a box are pretty straightforward. You can’t mark off a box if you’ve already crossed off a box that is to the left of that box. So, if you’ve completed the red 5, you can no longer mark off 2-4. You can also only skip one box between the first and last box in the same turn. So, if you play the blue 12, 11, and 9 you can mark all three of them off as you only leave one empty.
That’s the game. Play continues around the table until someone has completed two rows by marking off the right-most box after getting at least five boxes in that row. Or it can end if someone has taken four penalties. You score points based on the number of boxes completed in each row. Subtract your penalties. Most points wins.
Qwixx is a really well-thought-out game. It was nominated for the 2013 Spiele des Jahres. It helped kick off the roll and write craze that doesn’t seem to be going anywhere.
The scorepad for Qwixx: The Card Game is the same as the dice original. But the thing with dice is that rolling a 2 or a 12 is much harder than rolling a 7. The uneven distribution of dice led to a lot of decisions to make about when to give up on a particular row. Holding out for a 2 or 3 to get a row started is almost never wise. But with the card game, every value has equal representation in the deck. It takes a lot of the excitement out of the game that had you hoping for a 12 to get rolled so you can end the game.
There is some potential for Qwixx: The Card Game to be more interesting if you really like the idea of memorization and card counting. When drawing cards from the center row, knowing only the value can be very dangerous. Late in the game, a 12 might be very good if it’s yellow or red but worthless in blue or green. So, if you can pay attention closely to what has been played or what cards other players have been holding you can really get a leg up on everyone else.
How much you like it will largely depend on how fun that sounds to you. All the excitement and press-your-luck of the original Qwixx has been replaced with hand management and memorization.
There are some usability issues with the cards. The value on the back of the cards is only printed right in the middle of the card. This means when people are holding them in their hands you won’t be able to see the value of all of them. We tried a couple of games just keeping our hands on the table, but then I had to keep picking them up to remember what colors I had. I understand why they aren’t indexed in the corners; you don’t want to be able to see what is coming up in the draw deck if it’s not perfectly stacked. That said, we finally just used cardholders to make things easier.
Do you dislike randomness but wish you could get a roll-and-write-esque experience? Maybe this game is for you. If you like the original Qwixx you’ll likely be as disappointed as I was. Too much memorization and too little exciting moments. The decisions largely make themselves. Qwixx: The Card Game can be quick enough to not be offensive, but it’s all a bit boring.
Credit: Qwixx: The Card Game