BG Review - Qwinto
I think I've probably played more games of Yahtzee than any other game. Possibly any other game added together. It was a family favourite growing up and is still loved by my parents to this day. It was the perfect combination of easily portable, super simple to play, quick push your luck gameplay, and randomness that made it a hit with families all over the world. It's no wonder it stuck around for so long, and it's no wonder then that the 'modern' gaming world has finally caught on, and a whole deluge of these roll and write style games have been designed and released in the last few years.
Which brings us to Qwinto.
This tiny package originally came out in 2015 but has seen a resurgence in attention recently, riding the roll and write wave right into the gaming zeitgeist. It was designed by Bernhard Lach and Uwe Rapp and has until this year only been available in Germany. There is an English release now for 2018, but through the magical wonders of the internet, I ordered a copy from the German publisher and it arrived in 2 days ready to play. Luckily, there is absolutely nothing about the game that is language dependant. There is also no theme at all, beyond rolling and writing, there is no slapped on layer of sheep management or town building, you are simply writing numbers in circles. This may put some people off but I don't think it's an issue, and adding an afterthought theme over it would only detract from what is here.
It's a similar concept to Yahtzee, and takes the name of the genre to heart, in that you roll something and then you write something, until the game is over. I don't normally like to get bogged down in rules explanations but this is so simple there's not much point in skipping it. In Qwinto you roll 1, 2, or 3 coloured dice, add them together, and then enter the value on your sheet on one of the coloured rows matching one of the dice you rolled. You have to enter numbers so that they go up from lowest on the left, through to highest on the right, with no repeat numbers on the same row, and no repeat numbers in a column either. And that's basically it.
The clever bit though comes from the fact everyone can enter any number that a player rolls. So if one of your opponents rolls all 3 dice and gets a 10, you can slam it down in your row perfectly between the 9 and 11 you already had and feel happy with the bonus points you'll get for completing that row later on. Except on your turn, you also roll a 10, and you re-roll it as you're allowed to once each turn, and you get 10 again because probability, and now you're completely stuffed and because you rolled the dice and can't write anything - one of the 2 main elements in a roll and write - and you have to take a strike. Get 4 strikes and the whole game is over.
I can only imagine the game is meant to be played over multiple consecutive games, because the first time we played it we played 8 games in a row, learning something new every time. The above example took about 3 games to realise you don't always want to take numbers on your opponents turns because skipping them loses you nothing, but not being able to place your own roll brings you slowly closer to defeat. Thinking about the odds on the dice is also a huge part of the game, it's no coincidence I picked 10 for my example earlier, as when rolling 3 dice the most probable outcome is a 10 or 11, so over the course of some games they tend to fill up quick. This then brings a nice element of push your luck to proceedings. I know probability. I understand odds. But I'm preeeety sure I can get that 16 I need to complete this last ro..ARGHG *strike*
So then, a huge part of the strategy comes from when to take numbers on other peoples turns, but the other layer here is the dice themselves. On your turn you can roll just 1, 2, or all 3 of the dice, and choosing what to roll and when is huge. Rolling 1 dice is a valid strategy towards the middle and end to try and fill up those left most spaces with single digits, but then the question becomes do you combine it with a second die to open up another row to place your low number, and risk the possibility of (EVERY TIME) rolling a 12 instead and ruining the whole thing. The risk reward is very rewarding and planning out turns so that you're rolling 1 die on your go for a guaranteed spot because you've left space for one feels great. But then so does a last turn roll where you have to roll all 3 and hope to get a 15 or higher, and you somehow land it and you feel very clever for getting yourself out of a sticky situation by rolling well, ignoring the fact you shouldn't have put yourself in that situation in the first place. It's a great balance between strategy and luck, the foundation that Yahtzee and roll and writes are based upon.
A quick note here for solo players, the game says it's for 2-6 players, but that didn't stop me trying it out as a solo game, and I can exclusively reveal, that it doesn't really work. As you are always rolling the dice, there is no opportunity to skip numbers and so after a few unlucky rolls you're out. So I guess they knew what they were doing when they put that on the box, but it's always nice to have confirmation.
Qwinto is very addictive, and just begs to be played multiple times in a row, helped in part by it's very short play time of around 10-15 minutes. I feel like we will shortly be ordering a second pad to play with after burning through this one, and for cheap gamers out there, really you can play it with any 3 coloured dice and some printed sheets. The box is also incredibly small, measuring roughly 1.1 SNES game cartridges in size, and will easily fit inside any suitcase, bag, pocket, or purse. That combined with the fact you can play it anywhere really does make it a fantastic little travel game. I've already played it in the last few days on the sofa, on a footrest, a table and a garden bench, and will more than likely be playing it in a waiting room, on a plane, on a balcony, and by the pool later in the Summer as it's definitely making the trip on hols with us.
Overall, a great little game, perfect to play with a couple of drinks in the evening, or as a change of pace game as part of a longer game evening.
Verdict: 5 Rolls out of Write.
NOTE!!! Funky tartan dice tray does not come with the game, I purchased it from the Amazonians and it's made by DnDice