My middlest daughter doesn't play many games. I don't know exactly why - she is extremely spacial. She has been able to put puzzles together since she was about 18 months. Me (and I assume most others) pick up pieces that look right and try to fit them to the puzzle. She stares at the puzzle then at the pieces moving them in her head and picks one piece up placing it into place. She loves to watch me and her older sister play games and is content in this activity. The last couple of games of Qwirkle I have played with her older sister, she has shown more interest, telling me where to go, so it was not a surprise (well, it kind of was) when she started asking to play "Sqwirkle." (I don't know where the "S" came from.)
We set up the game and got to playing.
I actually do know why my middlest doesn't like to play games. She is afraid of not doing well, not necessarily loosing, but not "playing right." Knowing this, I played a little differently. The last couple of games versus her sister, I won by over 200 points. I have told my oldest some of the strategies, and she still loves to set-up Qwirkles for me to complete. Anyway, those game are not the point of this report...
So, knowing "the fragile state" of my daughter, I tried to help her out with her playing. My eldest didn't really like that, calling it cheating. In order to prevent a huge fight, my wife came over and started to help her out. Not telling her what to do, but helping suggest different things she could do and additional ways to make some extra points on her turn. Up to this point, she was losing and feeling a little overwhelmed.
As usual, my eldest was setting up Qwirkles, but not completing them. I had one early that I could have completed and chose not to as I was already up by 30+ points. Big mistake. There were a couple of "double" Qwirkles as well (of which I wish I did have the pieces for those) and my middlest daughter capitalized on both - scoring over 24 points on both. This catapulted her quickly to the lead. My eldest daughter was quickly claiming Qwirkles as well, soon I was 30 points in the dumpster. My middlest was easily 100 points ahead of me. I started trying to block off the myriad of looming Qwirkles on the board if I couldn't outright claim them. In the end, I lost - by 8 points behind my eldest who was 60 points, or so, behind my middlest.
Critiques & Conclusions
This game is great for my middlest - as I figure any abstract game would be. She needed the confidence boost of winning by such a large margin and has asked repeatedly to play again. It is a challenge to try and teach them how setting up Qwirkles isn't in their best interest. I have explained to watch the board and see how many of each piece type remain that could form the Qwirkles. My middlest understands this and during our game pointed out how this row couldn't be a Qwirkle because the missing pieces were already in play. It is a challenge on my part when playing them to try and block all those potential Qwirkles, all the while trying to keep up the scores and hope they don't draw the two tiles to score on the double Qwirkles they have set up. Way too much work - but loads of fun as well. Nothing beats gaming with your kids and Qwirkle is one the whole family can enjoy. And now that you can pick it up in Target, every family should own their own copy.