#237 – Qwinto

Box

Base price: 8.93.
2 – 6 players.
Play time: ~15 minutes.
BGG Link
Buy on Amazon.de (via What’s Eric Playing?, maybe?)
Logged plays: 21

I feel like, “Remember Yahtzee?” is never a good way to start off a review, but I’m assuming that my readership hasn’t played many roll-and-write games, especially since this is the first one I’ve reviewed. (Or, at least, the first review I’ve written for this one, since I wrote this like a year ago.)

So, remember Yahtzee? The classic game of throwing dice and reveling in the futility of it all? Well, modern gaming is swooping in to save you from more uncomfortable holidays trapped at home with your family with Qwinto, a new dicey game from the people who brought you Qwixx. I assume, at least; my copy’s in German so I actually can’t read the rules at all. So we’re gonna go off my best guess, here. In Qwinto, you compete mostly-against-but-also-somewhat-with other players to score the most points, but you might find that your best-laid-plans have painted you into a corner…

Contents

Setup

The game’s pretty easy to set up. Give each player one of these blank sheets and a pen or pencil:

Player Board

Next, choose which player goes first and give them the three dice (one orange, one yellow, one purple). You’re all ready to start!

Setup

Gameplay

The game is also pretty simple to play. Here’s how it works:

Every turn, choose the dice you want to roll. You can choose any (or all!) of them, and then roll them. Announce the sum to all players. You can then choose to re-roll, but you must keep your second roll if you do. No additional re-rolls.

Once you’ve done that, add the number to any open circle or pentagon on your player board, following these caveats:

  • You may only add it to a row matching the color of one of the dice you used. If you used a purple and a yellow die when you rolled, you cannot add this number to the orange row.
  • All numbers must be increasing from left to right, with no duplicates.  A number can never be repeated within a row, and you can never put a number to the left of a number it is greater than.
  • No duplicate numbers in the same column. Yup, you have to watch rows and columns for placement rules. Be careful with this one, it can really mess you up.
  • Pentagons are potentially worth bonus points. If you complete a column with a pentagon in it (fill in all three numbers), you score the pentagon as points. That’s handy!
  • If you cannot take a number, you take a penalty. Mark one of the penalty boxes. That will be worth -5 points at the game’s conclusion. Tough!

Once you’ve done all that, every other player has the opportunity to take your number and add it to their own score sheet, as if they had rolled it. Unlike you, however, they’re not stuck with it. They do, however, have to follow the same placement rules, but if you rolled an orange and yellow die and put it in the yellow row, they can put it in the yellow or orange row, as they see fit.

Play continues until one of two things happens:

  • One player has completed two rows.
  • One player has filled in all four penalty squares.

Once that happens, the game ends! Score points as follows:

  • In the red, yellow, and purple boxes:
    • If you completed the row, score the rightmost number in that row (the highest number).
    • If you did not complete the row, score 1 point for every number you put in that row. (Max: 8 points)
  • In the pentagons:
    • If you completed the column, score the value in the pentagon as points.
    • If you did not complete the column, score 0. Tough!
  • In the penalty box:
    • Score -5 for each penalty box you filled in this game. (Max: -20 [I suppose that’s technically the lowest possible score you can get from this, so it’s technically the minimum, but don’t @ me.])

Add up your scores, and the player with the most points wins! See? Super easy.

Player Count Differences

This game’s probably less stressful at higher player counts because you’ll take fewer turns, really. At two you see more games end with four failures than at six by sheer virtue of having 5x as many numbers that you don’t need to take. That’s about the only player difference that I can see — I’d happily play it at any player count.

Strategy

  • Know your probability distributions. You’re expected (on average) a roll of 3.5 on one die, a 7 on two dice, and a 10.5 on three dice. Calibrate your expectations appropriately and you might be fine?
  • Be careful with columns and rows. You might have a perfect spot for that 10 you just rolled between the 9 and 11 on your orange row, only to realize that you already put a 10 below it in the yellow row, meaning you can’t complete your orange row. Bummer. Watch for pitfalls like that.
  • If you see a 17 or an 18, put it in the right-most purple pentagon. You have a chance of scoring that twice if you finish the purple row, which is great.
  • I generally try to focus on finishing columns. Even if I don’t finish the row, if I can get 40+ points on the bonus pentagons, I’m in great shape. Well, provided I don’t have any failures.
  • I avoid taking 11s from other players. If you’re rolling three dice it’s pretty likely you’ll hit an 11 sooner or later, and you can only take three, so be careful.
  • I tend to reroll less later in the game. If you reroll and get a number you can’t take, that’s an automatic failure (-5 points, remember!). If you can take the first roll later in the game, I generally just … do. If you can’t, well, then you gotta reroll.
  • Pretty much always take 1s and 18s. This is just good strategy, if you can. 18s more so, because they’re less likely than 1s. About 9x less likely, to be precise.
  • Don’t start with two dice. Generally I think it’s best to start with 1 die since you have a lower variance and then gradually roll more dice, but I also have been known to start with three dice. Two dice is just a bad plan.

I’m sure there’s more. Any secret Qwinto strategems? Post them in the comments!

Pros, Mehs, and Cons

Pros

  • I feel an almost-comical level of regret with some of my decisions in this game. About as much as Factory Funner, to be honest. I usually just tell people “oh, yeah, it’s got some similarities to Yahtzee, but I hate myself every time I finish playing”. So it’s got that going for it, which is nice.
  • So short. It’s super short, from explanation to play to scoring. Very easy to get to the table, which I really like.
  • Surprisingly colorful. The art + graphic design is solid, especially for such a simple game. The colors are bold (and matter!), the player board makes sense even though it’s in German (pentagons are special, columns exist, and the rows are rows for some reason). Honestly, you could probably guess half the rules just from the player board, which I think is awesome.
  • Easily transportable. I think a friend of mine is working on an app for the scoreboard in his free time, which would just mean that you could play it with three dice at any point. That’d be awesome.
  • I like all the mechanics a lot. It incentivizes a bit of risky play but also punishes you for failures, which I love in a really short game. I’m usually cackling the whole game, or at least, when it’s not my turn.
  • Seems like a solid introductory game. It demosntrates similarity to familiar classic games, but has interesting mechanics and was made pretty recently, so it’s a good way to tell someone “Hey, there are more games made now.” It’d probably be my Christmas gift of choice if it were available stateside. (And it is, or at least will be soon!)

Mehs

  • The pencils it comes with are mediocre. But then again, I think that’s just like, how golf pencils are made. You’re better off using a pen and playing for keeps. Or, I suppose you can laminate the boards, as I now have.
  • It’s sometimes difficult to remember all the rule interactions. This mostly makes the game frustrating for newer players until they’ve internalized it. Just remind people that left-to-right must be strictly increasing and columns cannot have the same values.
  • It seems vaguely mathable? I haven’t had anyone sit around and talk probabilities (probably because they know I might not stand for it), but it seems possible, maybe. It’d be interesting if everyone started with a few locked-in numbers that were randomly-determined at the start.

Cons

  • I now have the tiniest bit of insight as to how non-US countries feel. I think I ended up paying $22 for this ~$8 game just off of shipping. I mean, totally worth it given how much I’ve played it thus far, but yike. Thankfully, this con is not as big of a problem, anymore, as Pandasaurus is picking it up for a Gen Con release! That’s always nice.
  • I will almost always prefer a game with a theme to a game without one. So, Welcome To, for instance, has a similar set of “always strictly increasing” to Qwinto, but it presents it as house numbers in a development, which is charming. That alone gives it an edge, in my book. I’d just like to see games with creative and endearing themes.

Overall: 8.5 / 10

In Progress

Overall, Qwinto is super! It’s fast, light, highly replayable, and I really, really like it. It’s dice-chucky, which I normally like already, but with some fun choices without adding on more complexity than it needs. Sure, it’s abstract and isn’t like, “GREEK MYTHOLOGY DICE” or something, but not everything needs an explicit theme (even if I’d generally prefer one whenever possible). The decisions you make are interesting (and weighty, in my opinion) and you have to rely on other players to really succeed. I’ve enjoyed “follow” mechanics (especially recently, with my review of SPQF), and I think Qwinto’s is also interesting. All in all, I enjoy this quite a lot and would happily recommend it to others.

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