Regular readers of Geeky Hobbies will know that I am a fan of games that try to do something original. Board games can still be good even if they only rely on tried and true mechanics. It is much easier to stand out when you do something original though. In my book a game will always get credit for trying something new even if it doesn’t work. It is better to try something new instead of doing the same things over and over again. This brings me to today’s game Cube Quest. Cube Quest is far from your typical board game which is why it caught my attention. How could you not be interested in a game where you flick plastic cubes to try and destroy your opponent’s army? Cube Quest is a really fun and original game that the whole family can enjoy that unfortunately is almost ruined by the components.
How to Play Cube Quest
- Place the two sections of the gameboard together so the sides touch one another. The two castles should be on the ends of the gameboard.
- Players select their cubes for the game. The players can either use the basic rules or the advanced rules. For the advanced rules see the “Advanced Game” section. For the basic rules each player takes the following cubes:
- 1 King
- 4 Strikers
- 12 Grunts
- Players then place their cubes on their side of the gameboard. The players decide whether they want to place a screen between the boards so they can’t see how the other player is placing their cubes. The following rules must be followed while placing your cubes:
- The King must be placed within your castle. The king can either be placed fully or partially inside the castle’s walls.
- Cubes can be placed on top of one another including the King.
- All cubes other than the king can be placed anywhere on your side of the gameboard. None of the cubes may touch the dividing line between the two sections of the gameboard.
- The player with the “squarer” head will start the game.
Playing the Game
On a player’s turn they will choose one of their cubes that they will flick (with their thumb and one finger) this turn. They can choose any of their cubes even if it is on the other player’s side of the gameboard. Once a cube has been flicked, the players will handle the outcome. After the outcome is handled, play passes to the other player who will get to flick a cube.
If a player ever commits a foul when flicking their cube (hitting more than one cube, pushing instead of flicking, touching an opponent’s cubes), their opponent gets to flick two cubes on their next turn.
When a cube is flicked and it leaves the gameboard (under any circumstance) it is defeated. The cube is removed from the game.
Each cube in the game has two different faces: a colored in detailed face (safe) and a shadowy face without any detail (captured). When a cube is on your side of the gameboard it does not matter which side of the cube is face up. A cube that on the opponent’s side of the board with the captured side face up is captured.
A cube that is between the two sections of the gameboard is determined to still be on your side of the gameboard. When a cube is captured it is removed from the board. The player whose cube was captured will get to roll the cube (off the gameboard). The side that is rolled determines what happens to the cube.
- If the cube lands with a safe side face up, the cube is safe. The player takes the cube back and places it somewhere in their castle.
- If the captured side is rolled the cube is defeated. It is removed from the game.
Winning the Game
The game ends immediately when one of the players’ Kings have been defeated. A King can only be defeated by being knocked off the gameboard. The player whose King is still on the gameboard wins the game.
For the advanced game players will have the opportunity to create their own cube army. The players will have the opportunity to spend up to 40 points with each type of cube costing a different amount of points. The players must add the king cube to their army. The different types of cubes in Cube Quest are as follows.
King – Cost: 0 points | Captured Sides: 0 – The king must be placed in the castle to start the game. If the King is ever knocked off the board, the player who controls the King loses the game. Instead of flicking a cube, a player can choose to move their King from anywhere on the board back to their castle.
Striker – Cost: 4 | Captured Sides: 1 – The Striker has no special abilities. Strikers’ strength comes from the fact that they only have one captured side. This makes a Striker much harder to lose through being captured.
Helm – Cost: 4 | Captured Sides: 3 – The Helm has a special ability where it can possibly be flicked twice in a turn. If a player’s first flick of the Helm lands in the player’s own territory, they may flick the Helm cube another time in the same turn.
Skulk – Cost: 3 | Captured Sides: 3 – If the Skulk is flicked to the other player’s side of the board and it does not land on one of the captured sides, the player can choose to place it into hiding. To put the Skulk into hiding it is removed from the gameboard. On a future turn the player can use their turn to place the Skulk back on the gameboard anywhere on the other player’s side of the gameboard. The cube cannot be placed inside the castle or touching another cube.
Grunt – Cost: 2 | Captured Sides: 4 – Grunts are cheaper than the other cubes. They are much easier to capture than other cubes though.
Healer – Cost: 2 | Captured Sides: 0 – Players place healers on their gameboard but the player cannot flick the cube. If a player wants to use the Healer they remove it from the gameboard. When the Healer is removed the player has the ability to roll cubes that were destroyed up to a value of six. Whichever dice land on their safe sides are placed somewhere in your castle. Any dice that land on their captured sides are not returned to the gameboard. A player can use multiple Healers during the same turn.
Freeze – Cost: 2 | Captured Sides: 0 – Freezes are not placed on the gameboard. Instead of flicking a cube the player can use their Freeze cubes. A player places a Freeze on top of the other player’s cubes. A Freeze can be placed on any cube or even on a stack of cubes but may not be placed on the King. When a Freeze is placed on a cube(s), the cube(s) that the Freeze is on cannot be flicked. Once the Freeze is knocked off the cube(s) it is removed from the board and the cubes are no longer frozen. A player can play multiple Freeze cubes on their turn, but only one can be placed in your opponent’s territory.
My Thoughts on Cube Quest
I honestly don’t have to waste a lot of time talking about what you do in Cube Quest as the game is quite straightforward. Basically players take turns flicking one of their cubes trying to knock the other player’s cubes off the gameboard. The first player that is able to eliminate the other player’s King wins the game.
For such a simple concept Cube Quest is really fun. I will say that the game is not going to be for everyone. If the idea of flicking cubes around a gameboard doesn’t sound that fun, Cube Quest is probably not going to be for you. If the concept sounds interesting though, you should really enjoy playing Cube Quest. The game works really well as a family game as the whole family can enjoy playing it. The game is simple enough that even younger children should be able to play it. At the same time it has enough strategy and skill to keep adults interested as well.
It is kind of hard to explain exactly why Cube Quest is so fun. It is just one of those games that you have to play to truly understand. I think part of the enjoyment comes from it being surprisingly satisfying when you are able to make a great shot. One shot can totally ruin your opponent’s strategy. For example you can use a cube to totally destroy a player’s wall, or you could even eliminate two or more of your opponent’s cubes with one shot. You would obviously prefer a successful shot but a complete failure can also be enjoyable in its own way.
Cube Quest does rely on some luck. That is to be expected from a game where you are flicking plastic cubes around a gameboard. There is still quite a bit of skill to the game though. The more you play the game the better you should get at it. In addition to aiming you will figure out how much power you should put into shots. Luck is going to play a role in the game though. It doesn’t matter how good you are at shooting the cubes as an unlucky bounce can impact your planned shot. A cube can land wrong and change directions missing the cubes you were aiming at.
One thing that I was surprised by is that Cube Quest has a lot more strategy than you would expect. The game’s strategy comes from a couple different areas.
First Cube Quest has an advanced version which adds quite a bit of strategy. While I would recommend starting with the basic game, I would pretty quickly move onto the advanced game. The advanced game is significantly better in my opinion. The main difference between the basic and advanced games is that you can build your own army and take advantage of the special abilities of each type of cube. Building your army adds a little time to your setup, but it is quite manageable as long as you don’t suffer from analysis paralysis. You have a limited amount of points that you can spend so you have to prioritize which cubes you would like to purchase. Players can either emphasize more powerful cubes, or they could go for quantity over quality. I personally think quantity is better in your first games. I could see the special abilities being really beneficial once you are better at shooting the cubes though.
Speaking of the special abilities I thought they were a nice addition to Cube Quest. I personally don’t think all of the abilities were created equally though especially when you factor in cost. I think they add some variety to the game though. I actually think the best cubes in the game are the Grunts. Until you are really good at shooting quantity is important, and Grunts are the cheapest cubes. I also found the Healers to be pretty good as they allow you to potentially replenish your troops. The Skulk can be useful as it potentially allows you to place it wherever you want. This could be devastating behind enemy lines. The Freeze allows you to mess with the other player’s strategy. Strikers are valuable to shoot onto your opponent’s die of the board, since they are hard to capture, as long as you don’t shoot them off the gameboard. Finally the Helm gives you options with positioning your shots which can be useful if used properly.
The other area where strategy can enter Cube Quest is in setting up your forces. The game has a variant rule where you can place a divider between the two sides of the gameboard which I would highly recommend using. As you can’t see how the other player is going to place their troops, you have to somewhat guess what they are going to do. I applaud the game for giving players a lot of options for placing their troops. The only rule regarding placement is that your King has to be placed in the castle. Otherwise you can position your troops however you want. I would recommend building a wall of grunts in front of your King. After that there is a lot of variety in how you decide to set up your cubes. This element of the game adds a lot of replay value to the game as you try out different troop layouts.
With the type of game that Cube Quest is, I am glad that the game plays quickly. Cube Quest is fun but I don’t see it as the type of game that would work if each game/round lasted for a significant amount of time. Most rounds of Cube Quest only take 10-15 minutes. If you fall far behind the other player, the game will soon be over so you can reset in the next game. This is also beneficial as you will probably want to play several games of Cube Quest back to back. With the shorter length you can get a couple games played in 30-45 minutes.
While I would say that most games only take 10-15 minutes, the length can vary quite a bit within that range. This comes from the fact that you can win the game with one lucky shot. It doesn’t matter if you have a massive lead in the game as one shot can change everything. All you need to do is knock the other player’s King off the gameboard. This makes the game kind of tense as any shot could end the game. It also means that both players are in the game until the very end. On the negative side it does add some luck to the game. One player could be playing better the entire game and then lose because the other player gets a lucky shot.
While I really like Cube Quest it does have a few issues.
Generally I am not a big stickler for component quality. Nice components are always a positive, but they don’t really impact my opinion of a game unless they adversely impact the gameplay. Unfortunately Cube Quest’s component quality ends up affecting the gameplay. By far the biggest issue with the components is the gameboard. When you look at the gameboard it looks really nice as the artwork is good, and the mats use a cloth top with a rubber backing. This leads to problems for the game though. In order to fit the gameboards into the box you need to fold them. Due to how the gameboards were constructed they tend to keep these creases unless you iron them out. The creases are more than cosmetic as they can impact the gameplay when one of the cubes hit them. This can change their trajectory and mess up players’ shots. Gamewright ended up creating a second edition which turns the gameboard into three pieces which apparently helps solve this problem. For this reason I would highly recommend picking up the second edition of the game if possible.
The other problem with the components is that the cubes feel a little cheap. The cubes are quite light. This is partially to help with flicking them. If the cubes were heavier it would much be harder to flick them as you would have to flick them much harder to move them the same distance as the light cubes included with the game. The cubes still feel a little cheap though. They are just plastic with stickers placed on the sides.
I have to say that I was actually kind of surprised by the component quality for Cube Quest. Gamewright games are generally sold for a lower price than a lot of designer game. For this reason the component quality is usually not as good as these more expensive games. The component quality still holds up quite well when you factor in the lower price. Cube Quest’s components just don’t live up to the quality of other games made by Gamewright.
The second problem with Cube Quest comes from the premise itself. It shouldn’t come as a surprise that a game where you are flicking cubes can lead to problems. The cubes will fly everywhere. You can either hit another cube or miss entirely and the cube will fly off the table. This leads to players having to search for the cubes that fly off the table. Generally the cubes don’t fly too far off the table, but I would highly recommend playing Cube Quest in an area where it will be easy to find the cubes that fly off the table. Otherwise it could be quite easy to lose one of the cubes.
The final complaint that I had with Cube Quest is that you can sometimes hurt your finger playing the game. You are hitting a plastic cube with one of your fingers after all. If you hit the cubes just right it can really sting your fingers. Unless you are playing the game way too seriously, you won’t be hurt significantly but it can still sting for a while. If you are going to play the game for an extended period of time I would consider wearing something on your hand or finger to reduce the stinging when you hit the cubes.
Should You Buy Cube Quest?
I had pretty high expectations coming into Cube Quest and for the most part I was not disappointed. Just as I thought the gameplay is really fun. Flicking the cubes around the gameboard while trying to eliminate your opponent’s army is really satisfying. The gameplay is simple enough for children and yet entertaining enough for adults. Cube Quest relies on some luck but there is quite a bit of strategy as well. Unfortunately the game’s components could use some work. The cubes feel kind of cheap, and it is hard to get the creases out of the gameboard pieces due to them being creased in order to fit in the box. The cubes also tend to fly everywhere making it somewhat easy to lose one of them.
Your enjoyment of Cube Quest is going to come down to how much you like the concept. If you don’t generally like these type of dexterity games or think Cube Quest’s concept sounds stupid, I doubt the game will change your mind. If the game sounds interesting to you though I would highly recommend picking up Cube Quest. You should try to pick up a second edition of the game though to avoid some of the issues with the components.