Full disclosure: A review copy of Quoridor was provided by Hachette Boardgames.
Yes indeed, we’re actually doing the Micro Reviews! Mini Reviews have been a really interesting experiment in review types and styles, and now here we are, at the next logical step. You might have already seen a Micro Review or two floating around, just because I’m experimenting with type and style and posting date, but these are much shorter reviews delivered straight atcha, partially due to the intense stress of posting 3000+ word reviews three times a week but also to try and allow me to cover a broader range of games than I previously could. Hopefully this means more reviews of more games y’all are interested in, so if you like the format, let me know on Twitter or in the comments! I appreciate the feedback. If you don’t like the format, well, I’ll still be posting standard reviews and mini reviews as well. We’ll make it through this. In the meantime, let’s check out Quoridor, from Gigamic! This is another one of their abstracts (along with Quarto and Pylos) that I’ve been trying recently.
In Quoridor, your goal is simple. Like the chicken from the age-old joke or Frogger, you just want to make it to the other side of the board. However, your opponent wants the same thing. Every turn, you’ll be able to move your pawn one space in any direction or place a vertical or horizontal wall. Naturally, you can’t completely seal off the board, since that would kind of break the game. The true challenge on your turn comes when you have to decide whether you want to move, block your opponent, or protect your route towards the end. Each choice is a trade-off and each comes with its own consequences. With two players, you’ll play head-to-head, but with four, it’s a free-for-wall of jumping and corridor-building. The game’s simple in concept, but like any good abstract, you’ll find it a lot more challenging once you get down to it. Will you be able to cross the board uninterrupted?
Overall: 4.75 / 10
So, overall, Quoridor fell a bit flat, for me. I think a lot of that has to do with how I play games, though. Generally speaking, I’m not as big of a fan of blocking players or backtracking, and Quoridor, at its core, is pretty much entirely that. You’re either moving forward and hoping that your opponent can’t wall you into a spot, forcing you to backtrack, or you’re placing walls in the hopes that you can waste enough of your opponent’s moves that you can beat them to the other side. It gives me the same vibes as Frogger, but with walls being slammed down in front of you. That halting of forward progression tends to lead to a lot of player frustration, within my groups. That said, there’s a strategic portion of the game that starts to reveal itself after multiple plays, as is the case with a lot of Gigamic’s abstracts. If you play enough with the same person, you start to evolve a metagame that’s pretty unique and interesting just based on how you interact with each other. I do like that kind of emergent gameplay, but I don’t find the core of Quoridor interesting enough that I actually want to push through to that stage. It’s one of the meaner abstracts that I’ve played, and that takes a lot out of me to play it. Plus, initially, you can often end up with some pretty uninteresting games. In one, we just kind of ended up building hallways and at the halfway point of the game I knew I had lost. I could no longer block my opponent and they just simply had to … get there. They had fewer steps to the end than I did, so, I resigned. That said, a lot of this comes down to preferences, I think. Quoridor does maintain the Gigamic standard of having a fantastic board and nice, high-quality pieces. Quick game, too, which I’ve both come to expect and appreciate. It’s just the gameplay that doesn’t quite gel with what I’m looking for in an abstract. I can see how it might appeal to players looking for a game where they’re constantly guessing their opponents’ moves and blocking them (especially at four players, where there will likely be a kingmaker in many games), but even at two, I still end up looking more towards other abstracts. If you’re excited about a blocking-heavy game, you don’t mind backtracking, or you want to trap your opponent in a maze of your own creation, Quoridor may be up your alley! It just didn’t quite land for me.
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