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Subject: How much skill in Qwirkle? rss

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Mikko Saari
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Based on one game, Qwirkle seems fun and looks like the game has some serious gateway game potential. But how much skill there is? It felt to me that our game was essentially decided by luck.

Can somebody prove me wrong? Is there someone in your game group who really excels in Qwirkle and can constantly win the game with decisive margins (say, 20-30 points)?

I'm just curious.
 
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My gut feeling, off of a handful of games, is that players who are equally "skilled" (that is, able to block high-scoring moves, or able to hold back using certain tiles until they will generate maximum points, or who know when to trade in tiles instead of hacking out a few points at a time) will see the game turn for the person who draws the right tile. But it's a relatively short game, it's easy for new players to grasp, and it's pretty.

Once folks are hooked on the game, spring Ingenious on them and reel them in.
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Darryl Boone
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It is very lucky but there are some tactical things you can do. Playing in such a way to prevent other people from completing 6-tile rows, stuff like that -- nothing too taxing. Scores will generally be very close since there aren't that many "awesome" moves -- you can score 4 here or 6 there, but any difference depends more on the tiles in-hand than any cleverness on the part of the player.

My wife really likes the game and I am happy to play it, but I wouldn't call it a gateway game. The meaning differs between people, of course, but to me a gateway game is one you use to introduce other people to games of slightly increased complexity than what they're used to. Qwirkle is less complex than Scrabble and I don't know how well you can use Qwirkle as a jumping off point to other games. But it's a great way to play Scrabble-ish on a more even level with children or people with a lesser grasp of the language.
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W. Eric Martin
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msaari wrote:
Can somebody prove me wrong? Is there someone in your game group who really excels in Qwirkle and can constantly win the game with decisive margins (say, 20-30 points)?


I've played Qwirkle close to 90 times so far, as has my wife, and whenever either of us teaches the game to new players, we typically beat them by 20-30 points. In one game with two newbies, we practically tied with the new players down 30 points; in a subsequent game with my wife against one player from the previous game and two newbies, she beat everyone by about 30 points.

When we play with a friend of ours who has played dozens of times, the scores are usually close and luck of the draw does play a factor, but you also use skills such as judging the hands of the other players, making plays that encourage them to play somewhere that will help you, learning when to flush a hand as hopeless, playing the odds on which tiles you might draw, and so forth. Sometimes you make smart plays, and sometimes you draw the right tiles.

What keeps me going back to Qwirkle is that (1) skill is a factor and you can improve, (2) my wife loves to play, and (3) the board is different every time and I enjoy seeing how it develops. Even after so many plays, the three of us frequently say, "Hmm, we've never seen this before..."

Eric
Editor, http://www.BoardgameNews.com
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Mikko Saari
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Thanks for your replies. It's pretty much how I thought. I don't really mind the luck, because playing Qwirkle is fun. It's also such a good newbie game that I'm definitely keeping it in my collection.
 
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Mikko Saari
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I played some more Qwirkle yesterday and beat some newbies. First game I won by 17 points, second by 73. Definitely skill =) With four players, the scores were more even, and I think two-player game has more potential for huge differences in scores. In the 73-point game (256-183), my best three moves were 17, 20, and 21 points. Pretty sweet.

Luck or no, it was great fun and everybody with whom I played the game loved it, so yeah, it certainyl works.
 
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William Springer
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I think that's true of most games: the more people playing, the more the game is decided by luck rather than skill. (In some cases, that's just who's lucky enough to be after the bad player :-))
 
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j b Goodwin

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I've only played this game two-player. My opponent is very good at pattern-recognition games, and I'm better at playing "counter-player." So I play tactical moves to limit my opponent or enhance my move better, and she sees a lot of connections I just miss. In the end, she's just a bit better at this kind of game (Set, Toppo, Blink, etc.), and it seems that, although there is a lot of luck in the draw from turn to turn, the game is long enough that the better player will usually win, although the margins of victory are not usually huge.
 
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Chris Darden
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I agree with Isaac's statement above except for the part about Ingenious. I think the better step is moving to Blokus Trigon or a similiar game where the moves aren't quite so obvious.
 
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