Thursday, April 15, 2010

Review - S'Quarrels - A Game Of Absolute Nuts!

Players: 2-6
Playing Time: 20+ Minutes
Age: 7+
Suggested Retail: $12.95

Under a nearby oak tree, embark upon the rigorous task of collecting and storing acorns efore winter sets in.  Your opponents are trying to take them all before you do.  Whirlwinds, Ambushing, Quarreling, and Hoarding are all part of the fun.  Get the coveted Golden Acorn, but watch out for the dreaded Rotten Acorn.  The more Acorns you get, the better chance you have of surviving Winter!  The player to store the most Acorns before Winter arrives WINS! 

I was introduced to S'Quarrels shortly before Christmas and I also got a chance to play S'Quarrels at the recent SaltCON game convention.  We had 6 players, including the game inventor. After a brief introduction to the game, we got to playing.

The Goal:

To Store the most Acorns before WINTER hits. Players select a predetermined score (such as 50) to play to. After playing multiple rounds, the first player to reach the determined number wins the game!

The Setup:

Shuffle the cards and deal 7 cards to each player.  Each player discards any Action cards and draws cards to get their hand back to 7 other words, your hand starts with NO action cards.

The Play:

The play is easy...draw, store, discard.

Draw - The player MUST draw at least one card and can choose to draw as many cards as they need to get to a maximum of 7 cards in their hand.  If an action card is drawn, it must be resolved immediately...the different action cards are:

    ALL players select a card from their hand, and at the same time turn their cards over. The highest card wins all the cards. 
    All other players race to smack the ‘Hoard Pile.’ First one to have their hand on top of the deck wins! The WINNER takes the entire hoard pile and play continues from the winner immediately. 
    Player randomly takes one card from each player’s hand then stores and discards.\
    Collect ALL players hands, shuffle them together, and then deal the cards out to everyone starting with the player that drew this card and going clockwise. 
    This card ends the round...time to count up your points.

Store - The player may store any Acorn Cards in their hand, but they must be stored in groups of three...for example, there must be 3 cards showing 1 Acorn.  Once a player starts storing, they CANNOT draw any more cards.

Discard - After they are done storing Acorn Cards, they MUST discard an Acorn Card face-down to the Hoard Pile.

Round End and Scoring:

When the Winter Card is drawn, the round ends and each player counts up their score.  Each set of three cards count for their face value...for example, 3 Acorn Cards with 4 acorns on each counts as 4 points.  There are also 2 special Acorn Cards, The Golden Acorn and The Rotten Acorn.  If you end up with the Golden Acorn, you score +5 points.  If you end up with the Rotten Acorn, your score -5 points.

Keep track of the points scored and play as many rounds as it takes to get to the goal score.


S'Quarrels is a fun and very simple card game.  It is easy to understand and easy to teach to new players.  I really like the randomness of the end of the round...after all, you never really know when Winter is going to hit.  The theme is fun and kids seems to love it.  It is a great game for younger kids, but older kids will enjoy it as well...overall, it is a great game for the whole family!  I give S'Quarrels an 8 out of 10.

You can buy S'Quarrles in our eBay store ( or in our Amazon Store or by contacting me directly.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Review - Spies & Spooks: Cold War Edition

Players: 2-6
Playing Time: 10 - 25 Minutes
Age: 10+
Suggested Retail: $24.95

Set in the early 1980’s, Spies&Spooks™ is a deliberately paced, conversational role-playing card game of international strategy and intrigue. The colorful cards bring to life the players, the methods, the dangers and the madness associated with spy craft… involving you in the Great Game.

As a player you assume one of eight Secret Identities, moving in a world of unknown opponents. Your Secret Mission, decoded before your eyes, is to obtain and smuggle assigned Secrets out of each round.

Here is your chance to experience the life of a Secret Agent! With a bit of luck, a well-laid plan and some clever deception you may even survive to win the game by being the first spy to complete his Secret Mission. Never the same twice Spies&Spooks is a game that you’ll want to play over and over again.

I got a chance to play Spies And Spooks at the recent SaltCON game convention.  We had 6 players, including the game inventor and illustrator. After a brief introduction to the game, we got to playing.

The Goal:

Earn the most money by completing spy missions.

The Setup:

Each player is given a secret spy identity and a secret mission. The mission cards are "encoded" with red and blue text, so you have to put them in your passport that has a blue filter on it so you mission is revealed.

The Play:

Missions are completed by smuggling out "Secret" cards (i.e. Trade Secret, Political Secret, Computer Secret, etc). Each mission is also worth a dollar amount...the harder the mission, the more it is worth. You smuggle a Secret by playing it in front of you with some form of Smuggle Card (Dead Drop, Transmission, Diplomatic Pouch). When you complete a mission, you turn in the completed mission and your identity for new ones.

There are cards that allow your opponents to steals cards from your hand or from your smuggled secrets. This can help you thwart opponents from completing their mission.

There are also a few ways to kill an opponent...daggers and bombs. Daggers are a direct attack that requires 2 daggers for male spies and one dagger for female spies. Bombs are more sneaky, you can hide them under smuggle cards waiting to be stolen by an unlucky player or players can draw them out of your hand...either way, they are blown up. When a player dies, they hand over their cards to the assassin who gets to pick what cards they want to keep. The eliminated player will get a new identity and mission at the beginning of their next turn.

Game End and Scoring:

The game continues until 3 missions have been completed. The player with the most $ earned wins.


Overall, it is a fun game. It definitely has expansion opportunities with new missions and spy identities being able to be fact, the designer is already working some out. Our game lasted longer than most, about 60 minutes. We had a bit of a cut-throat group, so killing happened more frequently than completing missions. The designer told us that a game would normally last 30 minutes.  I give Spies & Spooks an 8 out of 10.

You can buy Spies & Spooks in our eBay store ( or in our Amazon Store or by contacting me directly.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Review - Qwirkle Cubes

Players: 2-4
Playing Time: 30 - 60 Minutes
Age: 6+
Suggested Retail: $24.99

The follow-up to one of the most awarded games of all time! Qwirkle Cubes plays much like the original Qwirkle game--create rows and columns of matching colors or shapes to score the most points--but adds to the strategy because you can roll your cubes for more chances to play the exact shapes you want! Also, because everyone plays open-handed, you can analyze your opponents' future moves

The Goal:

Score more points than your opponent by making lines of cubes that all all the same color, but different shapes or all the same shape, but different colors.

The Setup:

Each player draws 6 Qwirkle Cubes from the draw bag and rolls the cubes.  Each cube has 1 color and 6 different shapes.  The player that can play the most cubes (to make the longest line) goes first.  The starting player then draws enough cubes to bring his hand up to 6 cubes.  The player on their left goes next.

The Play:

On their turn, each player has the option of re-rolling any (or none) of their cubes.  They then decide which cubes to add to the game area.  Any cubes added must be added in a single line, so they must share either color or shape.  For example, if there is a line on the table with a blue diamond, blue clover, and blue square, then the player can add a blue circle to the line.  Alternatively, they could also start a new line by playing a green diamond and a red diamond on the blue diamond.  It is also possible to create a new line by playing a blue circle, green circle, and purple circle to the line.  This sounds a LOT more complicated than it really is...

Turn End and Scoring:

Scoring is straight forward.  Simply count how many cubes are in any lines changed by the new cubes being placed.  If you happen to get a line that has 6 cubes in in (all one color and six different shapes or all one shape and six different shapes), you have created a Qwirkle!  You score the normal six points for the line, plus a bonus of six points.

Once the player has played and scored their cubes, they draw enough cubes to get the hand back to 6.  They roll the new cubes before adding them to their hand.  As a result, opponents can see what cubes all players might have to play on their next turn...this is a major difference from the original Qwirkle game.

The game continues until a player plays their last cube.  That player gets a six point bonus.  The player with the most points wins.


Qwirkle cubes has quickly become a favorite at our house.  We have played it with 2, 3 and even 5 (more than were it was designed for).  All group sizes played well...a definite plus for the game.  This is an easy game to learn, after a couple rounds new players will have the game-play down.  I give Qwirkle Cubes a 8 out of 10.

You can buy Qwirkle Cubes (and the original Qwirkle)  in our eBay store ( or in our Amazon Store or by contacting me directly.