Review • Qwixx: The Card Game

I’ll admit that in the past I’ve maintained a particular sort of reluctance when it came to roll/flip and write games. They are okay, within their fold; but I generally prefer the tactility of moving pieces around a board. On top of that, I actually tried the original Qwixx nearly a decade ago ago before my return to boardgaming, and at the time I really didn’t care for it. So with the sequel sitting in front of me I have to wonder- can it really stack up?

Qwixx: The Card Game
Designed by Steffen Benndorf, Reinhard Staupe
Art by Oliver Freudenreich, Sandra Freudenreich
Published by Gamewright
2-5 Players
20 Minutes
Review copy provided by Gamewright

Qwixx was arguably the first big modern roll-and-write, and the formula it presents is fairly straight forward. On your sheet you’ll see four rows of ascending/descending numbers in four different colors, and your goal is to fill up some of those numbers faster than your opponents. In the original game you’d accomplish this with a combination of six multi-colored dice, but in the sequel you’ll be using cards numbered from 2 to 12 to achieve the same results. The sneaky catch here is that before you utilize any cards, you will collect them from the field- which means your opponent will likely not have access to that card at all. There’s a bit of a stop gap, as before each turn all players have access to the number on the back of the top card of the deck; but you’ll find this won’t be as helpful as you might like.

Let’s start with some rough truth: the original Qwixx is not a good game, and I don’t think it ever was. Still, I suppose it should be judged a bit gently as a relict of its time- they were really only working with Yahtzee as an example, after all. So imagine my surprise to discover that the reimplement is actually pretty darn good. Qwixx: The Card Game manages to improve upon the original game in just about every conceivable way, while altering the core loop only negligibly. The end result remains approachable, with the extra twist of card collecting turned asset denial.

But…

Roll/flip and writes have come a really long way since Qwixx; and despite the mild but impressive reinvention, The Card Game (which itself was released about 8 years ago as of this writing) still shows the age of it’s predecessor. The addition of the cards, while adding in an extra layer of tactics, also makes the game feel sluggish- not a good thing considering that all you’re doing is lining up some numbers… Speaking of those cards, the game is also undeniably at it’s best at 2 players, as it keeps the card drafting so tight. Even one additional player means few (if any) cards stay in the pool, diluting the potency of the player interaction with shades of controlled chaos. By the time you get to 4/5 players, all that’s really left is luck. I suppose you could at least see who would win if you play it out… But why?

6/10

In the end I’m left with a game that is somewhat difficult to recommend despite being relatively solid. Still, Qwixx: The Card Game is an unexpected and welcome reinvention of a classic; and to that end, I would suggest that anyone with more than a passing interest in tabletop gaming (especially in light of design) should play both at some point. While your overall experience will likely vary rather broadly based on player count, the game is an excellent choice for smaller groups. Perfect for 2 players; things are thinky, tense, and tactical. Just find something else if you need to keep 4 or more engaged.

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