Hm. Time to dust off another review since, frankly, it’s taking basically all of my focus to even write one a week. I may have a couple extra next week, but, no guarantees. Anyways, might not be a bad idea for some simpler games, this week, and two great places to find simple games for the whole family are Gamewright and Shepherd Kit. So, here we go with two new reviews from them. I should try to try out their new version of MetroX, see how it compares to the original. Already love the colors! Anyways, I digress. Let’s get to Qwingo. Normally, I’d have a pithy paragraph about the game’s theme, but it seems pretty themeless outside of, “snacks!”. So let’s see what’s going on there. How will you stack up?
Uh, there’s no setup. Give each player a sheet:
And set out the die:
And … that’s about it. You can give each player a pencil, if it’ll help. Probably will, since it’s a roll-and-write.
Anyways, let’s get started:
So the basic game is that you want to write numbers in columns. There are five columns: bananas, coffee, donuts, watermelons, and ice cream. To add some challenge, you need to have the columns in ascending order (top to bottom).
Should be easy, yeah?
Well, then, by all means; make it a bit more difficult. Before the game starts, every player secretly writes 10, 20, 30, 40, and 50 in one each of the five columns. One number per column. Needs to be a secret, otherwise, you might copy someone else’s sheet. Once you’ve done that, though, you’re fine to look at other players’ sheets. You may even want to!
Anyways, the game is pretty simple. On your turn, call out a number between 1 and 100 (inclusive) and roll the die. Every player must add that number to that column. If the Lightning Bolt is rolled, every player may choose which column they would like to add that number to. If you cannot add the number to the column (remember, columns must be in increasing order), then you do nothing.
The first player to fill out a column wins! If multiple players fill out a column at the same time, the first to yell “Qwingo!” wins!
Player Count Differences
So certain strategies become more advantageous as you play with more players — for instance, you tend to diversify more as there are more players trying for a variety of columns. At low player counts, you can just spend turns trying to get a specific number and that’s fine, since you have fewer turns before it’s your turn again. At higher player counts, it’s not as advisable; breadth is more your friend. I don’t really have a preference for player counts for this game, honestly; it’s kind of silly and a lot of fun no matter how many people you play it with.
- Try to make other players do the hard work for you. You want to basically have the same range as other players (in terms of like, ability to place numbers), but you want to have more spaces filled. This seems obvious, but if you have an ice cream column with space between 10 and 45 (4 spaces) and your opponent has an ice cream column with space between 10 and 45 (5 spaces), you have a slight edge since you both need numbers in that space. This means in order to win, you’ll both have to put up numbers that the other player can potentially use.
- That said, try to force your opponents to make hard choices / to stop freeloading. If you get caught in one of those situations like I mentioned above, pick a number that’s decently between those two numbers and put it either on top or on bottom — your opponent likely will not do that, meaning that you have fairly different columns again. This may punishingly backfire on you, but either way, I mean, it’s a short game.
- At low player counts, just kind of go for what you need. Other players might help you inadvertently, as mentioned previously, but you might as well honestly just push for exactly the numbers you want, unless you’re having really bad luck.
- You can occasionally really mess people up, if you’re careful. If you call out 99 enough times, almost every player will put it as the final number in their columns. Then, start calling out 100. It’s a number that’s just for you! You’re not gonna make a lot of friends, that way, but I mean, you’re here to win.
- At high player counts, you’ve gotta ride the wave. See what people are writing, see what numbers you can try to shoot for. You’re going to get a large variety of numbers since so many people have different goals, but just roll with it. Try to be strategic, especially on the lightning bolts.
- I would kind of recommend calling repeat numbers less and less as you increase the number of players. You only get one turn every round to try and get what you need. If the round is two turns, great. If the round is five turns, not so much. If you have bad luck, those turns get wasted and then you’re even further behind.
Pros, Mehs, and Cons
- Incredibly easy to set up. Literally takes about 10 or 20 seconds. This might be the easiest game to set up that I’ve reviewed. It only has one die!
- Easy to teach, too. You win when a column’s full. Now we just need to teach people to remember to call a number before they roll the dice.
- Plays very quickly. It’s a great filler because it supports a fairly large number of players without much issue, which is nice, and it’s a super fast play, so you can bust out a few rounds while you’re waiting for another game to finish at game night before you rotate.
- Bright and colorful. It pops! Well, the few pieces it has pop, which is nice.
- The die is very nice. It’s got a good weight to it, too, like the dice from Pie Town, Sentient, or Favelas. Makes it fun to roll, even though it’s kind of weirdly super bouncy. May have been our table.
- Very portable. It’s larger than one of the Oink games, but definitely can fit in a bag or a pouch or a fanny pack or however you transport things.
- Is there a theme? I have no idea what the theme is supposed to be. Why did they pick those foods? Why is it coffee and bananas and watermelons and ice cream and donuts? Are these all snacks? I don’t know, but I’ve honestly spent more time thinking about this than I should. It’s just weird because it’s not themeless, like Qwinto, but it’s definitely got some like, minor trappings of theme? Not sure what the whole game is, there.
- Yeah, I mean, it’s pretty much luck. Sure, you can leave spots open and strategize, but ultimately you have, at worst, a 1/3 chance in rolling the thing you need (either that symbol or the lightning bolt) each turn, assuming you only have one column in mind. It’s a roll of the die, and that’s not going to sit very well with some people. Generally, I’m not that bothered by it because it’s an incredibly short game.
- I’m not convinced it has an incredible amount of staying power. That said, it’s a short, light, fun, and relatively inexpensive game, so I’m also not sure I’m terribly concerned about that.
Overall: 8 / 10
Yeah, overall, Qwingo is a super fun little game! I’ve played it a bunch with a few different groups (it ended up making its way onto my 10×10 challenge for 2018 because I could literally play it like, 10 times in a couple days) and I’ve even laminated a few of the sheets so that I don’t have to throw any more away! That’s all been working great. Sure, it’s a game about yelling some numbers and rolling a die (sort of like Bingo), but it’s got a certain expediency to it that makes it about as much fun as the other bingo game in my collection, Dingo’s Dreams (though DD has it beat on art and theme, for sure). If you’re looking for something fast and fun or a cute filler gift for a friend who games, Qwingo is definitely not a bad option!