Quarriors Review

Quarriors dice game in play

One of the most widely discussed games (whether positive or negative) of 2011 is Quarriors.

"Quarriors is Dominion with dice." That is how I was first told about the game, and I can't think of a better way of describing it myself.  (See here for my Dominion review - one of the first reviews I wrote on this site!) In Quarriors, each player starts with 12 basic dice. Each turn, they draw six dice from their bag (and if their bag is empty, they return the discarded dice into their bag and continue drawing). After this, they roll all of their dice, which can cast spells, provide potential creatures, or produce "Quiddity" (money). After rolling the dice, you can summon any creatures that you rolled (they each have a Quiddity cost to summon), and you can buy one new die from the common area. After this, all of your creatures attack all of your opponents - you calculate your total attack value and your opponent sacrifices creatures until he is able to absorb all of the damage. Then, your turn is over. To start your next turn, if you have any creatures still alive, they score "Glory" points. The first player to a certain amount of Glory (based on the number of players in the game) is the winner. I believe that the game can also end once a certain number of dice piles are empty, but this has never occurred in a game that I have played, so I'm not sure how many piles it is.

My absolute favorite part of Quarriors is the replayability inherent in the game because of how the dice are setup. You have sets of five dice, but then you have three different cards that represent what those dice might be. Yes, each of the cards representing a given set of dice are very similar, but they still change up the game enough to give it some extra diversity. For example, the die representing a wizard may be a wizard that will give you extra glory when scoring, or he may allow you to cull dice from your bag. He may have a special ability that lets you re-roll him and get an extra die from the bag - it all depends on which card is representing that die in any given game. And, each of these different wizards has a scaled cost based on their abilities, so it actually allows some of them to be better than others (instead of all wizards are equal, but simply slightly different).

The next thing that I like about Quarriors are the Spells and Creatures. It is really hard to put words together to explain why I enjoy them, but I think that some of the Spells and Creatures are interesting, and add depth to the game. You can at least somewhat envision yourself actually bringing this giant dragon into the realm - and you feel like you should be suddenly winning since you managed to summon him! (Though you probably won't win based on a single creature, not even a sweet dragon.)

However, though Quarriors definitely has some positive aspects, there are some things you should be aware of. First of all, the game is incredibly random. Did you think that Dominion wasn't random enough through all of your shuffling and drawing cards? You also wished that there was a chance that your card didn't work as you wanted it to any given time that you play it? Then you would like Quarriors. The game can be incredibly fun or incredibly frustrating, all depending on how you roll. For example, that sweet dragon that I mentioned can be incredibly powerful if you roll the correct side of the die... or it can miss completely and give you Quiddity. This can be good, since there is a chance that all of the dice you draw are creatures, and you will need at least some Quiddity to play them; but it's normally frustrating. This element of the game isn't really a pro or con - it is really just the crux of the game, and you need to determine if that is something that you would enjoy.

My first con with Quarriors is that I don't feel like you are ever able to make a good "deck" (bag of dice). In most <whatever> building games, you have ways of getting rid of the start cards/dice, thus making your deck better. This isn't really the case with Quarriors. Yes, there is at least one creature that allows you to cull dice, but most games you will simply be attempting to make your die bag better by adding more powerful dice to it, not by upgrading what you have. This makes early turns more boring as you may be forced to debate on whether it is even worth it to buy the die that you can afford.

The other con that I have for Quarriors was that it felt like my purchases were a bit too prescribed. For example, the creatures are all costed well enough that 9 times out of 10 the creature that costs 7 Quiddity is better than the creature that costs 6 Quiddity. Therefore, most turns consist of rolling all of your dice and then looking to see what die costs the correct amount of Quiddity for what you rolled. What's worse, most of the Creatures that cost less than 5 Quiddity are worthless (in comparison to everything else), so there is very little reason to clutter up your die bag with them. Whereas other "building games" have things that you can purchase that are mid-range in cost, but helpful long term (like the Village in Dominion), I didn't really get that impression with Quarriors. There are very few mid-range cards that actually make your die bag better, which makes you feel like you don't ever have a "good" bag of dice.

Overall, I give Quarriors a 7.0/10. I think that this game can be fun to play with the right group, but that group needs to appreciate lightweight, highly random games. If you enjoy deep strategy and having lots of control over your actions, Quarriors isn't really a game that I think you will enjoy.

If you want to explore more games, you might also check out Dixit, Hanabi, and Smash Up.

EDIT: Since originally posting this review, it has been pointed out to me that I missed a rule.  Whenever you score glory for one of your monsters, you are able to "cull" (remove) one of the dice from your used pile.  This would definitely help address my first con, but I do not believe that this rule would make a big enough impact on the game to where you would ever feel like you had a "good" bag of dice.  Specifically, in 4 player, you very infrequently score monsters (because everyone else kills them), and will probably only score a few monsters before winning (only the big monsters are likely to live long enough to score).  In 2-player, I can see this being a much more important addition.  Thank you to those of you who pointed this out to me, so that I can play it correctly from now on!


  1. Did you know you can cull a die for each creature that attacked and survived a full round and scored points? It definitely helps think out your bag a little.

  2. I did not know that (one of the problems of having someone teach me the game and me just flipping through the rules to remind myself). Good to know, but I'm not convinced that it would make me like the game much better...

  3. The RAW culling rules do change the game a bit. My group knew about the rules on our first play, but didn't cull, and once we did it, (game 3 or so) we were kicking ourselves for not using that rule to our advantages prior. It does linger near runaway leader syndrome though, since the player who is scoring is the player who gets to optimize his bag more.

    You might want to consider trying the two variant rules that the designer published on BGG and which will be published with the Quarmageddon expansion.

    1) Capture up to 2 dice from the wilds on your turn. This changes the 'buy the biggest thing you can afford' problem. Now you can ask yourself, "Do I buy a Wizard or should I get two Portals?" instead.

    2) When a creature survives, cull it to score its Glory or discard it back to your bag for no Glory (instead you get to keep it for another try). This changes the RAW culling rules though, which could cause some issues, especially with the Rise of the Demons expansion - getting rid of Corrupted Quiddity could become a real issue. Note I haven't tried this rule yet - planning on playing with it tonight.

    I agree, the right group can have a great time with Quarriors, but I find that those who have any issue with randomness really dislike this game, and I'm not sure that these rules will change things enough to matter for them (though I will be trying!).

  4. Haha -- Tagmire beat me to it. It does help to cull those white dice. It is a fairly random game, but the frustration level is dropped for me because it's also a short game. If the dice hate me, I only have to endure it for fifteen minutes before we try again or play something else. Once you've started on a bad foot, I do think it's hard to catch up (as players who score get to cull dice, and thus end up with better and better hands). Some kind of catch-up mechanism, like the robber in Settlers, would be nice, but I still think it's a quick, fun game. Who doesn't love rolling custom dice?