How to Play
To begin the game separate the white and black cards and shuffle each deck without looking at either. Give each player five white cards face down. Keep the black cards face down. The players need to decide who will be the first Quao. The Quao looks at the top “Quao” card (black card) and reads it to themself.
Each players’ turn involves playing a card and performing the corresponding action. The game includes five different types of cards which are as follows:
- JaQuas: Answer the corresponding question on the card (generally an embarrassing revelation) and discard the card.
- Quak: Answer the question/perform the action and then discard the card.
- Cheeta’: The card can be played on any player including the player who played the card. Generally these cards break the rules of the game. Follow the actions on the card and then discard it.
- BullyQ: This card is played on any of the other players besides the player who is currently “Quao”. These cards require players to perform various actions throughout the round whenever the specified situation comes up.
- JoQuer: This card can be used in order to avoid a penalty from a Quao Rule penalty or can just be discarded during a players’ turn.
While playing the game various rules are put into play. These rules are put into place with BullyQ and Quao cards. The Quao rule cards are kept secret and only the current Quao knows all of these rules. An additional Quao rule is added every round (round two has two Quao rules and so on). When either a BullyQ or a Quao rule is broken, the Quao may punish the violating player with a one card penalty or they can choose not to punish the player.
Some additional rules include:
- A card is considered still in your hand until you have completed the action on the card. If you play your last card which lets someone else pay their final card, the other player will win since there card will be played before the action on you card is completed.
- If playing your last card breaks a rule, you are forced to draw a card.
- A player can chose to discard a BullyQ card in front of them instead of getting rid of one of the cards from their hand.
Whenever one player gets rid of all of their cards, they win the round and become the Quao in the next round. Whoever wins the fourth round wins the game.
In 2005 the board game company Wiggity Bang made its’ name known with the game Quelf. Quelf was pretty popular and thus Wiggity Bang branched out and developed some new games. One of those game was Quao in 2009. When I ran into Quao at the thrift store I I had to give the game a chance since a game featuring a dictator cow had to be worth a couple laughs. Quao has some ideas that could make a good game but it also has a lot of issues that drag down the game.
Quao is for the most part a wacky party game to play with your friends and family that aren’t afraid to make a fool out of themselves. Quao will only work if all of the participants are in the right mood. This is the type of game that may be more enjoyable after a couple drinks. If you or any of your group don’t like making fools out of themselves, Quao will not be for you. The game relies on people fully embracing the wackiness of the game.
Quao essentially has five different types of cards (plus the Quao rule cards). Four of the types of cards are disappointing though. The JaQuas and Quak cards didn’t seem to really fit with the game. These cards are essentially give your opinion or tell an embarrassing fact about yourself. It just feels like they were taken from another game and just shoved into this game in order to pad the number of cards in the game. The JoQuer cards are pretty pointless since either they protect you when you break a rule or are just discarded while having no impact on the game. The JoQuer cards actually encourage you to purposely break rules in order to get rid of them. The Cheeta’ cards are not terrible but they are pretty boring. Most of the cards come in the variety of either discarding or drawing a card or not allowing players to play certain cards.
Even though the rest of the cards aren’t very good, the BullyQ cards are by far the best part of the game. I won’t spoil the BullyQ cards since that will ruin quite a bit of the fun of Quao. I have to mention the card my group had the most fun with. With this card the player the card was played against had to say “You may refer to me as ‘Sir Ferdinand of Algonquin’ or not at all.” every time someone referred to the player without using their name. Why don’t we just say that all of the other players constantly referred to the player without using his name on purpose just to make him constantly say that phrase.
My group easily had the most fun with the BullyQ cards. Quite a few of them are actually pretty funny. The BullyQ cards got even better when several cards were piled on one player and they had to try and remember all of the different rules they had to follow. The BullyQ cards would actually make an interesting game by themselves. I am guessing there is already a game like this but I think it would be interesting to have a game where everyone gets different wacky rules that they had to follow in order to stay in the game.
While the BullyQ cards are pretty funny and interesting, the Quao rule cards were quite a disappointment. The creators did a good job with the BullyQ cards that I am surprised that the Quao cards were so bland. I won’t reveal any of the specific rules since there are so few to start with. Most of the rules are of the variety of not being able to say a certain word. I think a lot more creativity could have been put into these rules. I also have to say that one of the Quao cards unfairly targets specific players.
By far the biggest problem with the game though is re-playability. Once you play through all of the cards, the game is not nearly as good. One of the best parts of the game is when you first see a card and see the weird action it requires someone to do. Once you have played all of the cards though you know what to expect. I can’t imagine the game being very good when you know what is coming.
This is especially true for the Quao cards. The whole point to the Quao cards is that only the Quao knows what they are. Once you play through all of the cards, that surprise is gone. You may not know which cards are currently in play but you know what cards are in the deck so you can purposely avoid doing what is on the cards.
I honestly see Quao as the type of game you may play two or three times and then never play again. You could wait some time and will likely forget a lot of the cards but I can’t see the game being as enjoyable after playing through all of the cards. In the four player game I played we actually went through almost all of the white cards so if I chose to play the game again, we would mostly encounter repeat cards.
In addition to the replayability concerns, the winning condition of the game presents quite a few issues. Essentially the first two or three hands of the game are pretty pointless. The only reason to win one of the first three rounds is to put yourself in position to be the Quao in the fourth round. In the first and second round you really don’t have to win since no one gets an advantage for the final round by winning these rounds and you don’t get any punishment for losing them. The first two rounds just feel like filler.
Now when the third round comes around you might get a little benefit out of winning the round. Based on the game I played, either the Quao or the first player to play cards each round always won. This happens because the Quao gets to enforce the rules so they will rarely ever draw additional cards and they can force the other players to draw cards. The first player also has a distinct advantage because he/she will get to play first which means they are likely to be able to play all of their cards before the other players get a chance to.
The first player has such a distinct advantage because it is not that hard to avoid breaking the rules. The Quao rules are pretty easy to avoid especially after someone is punished for breaking the rule since it is pretty easy to figure out what it is after someone is punished for breaking it. The BullyQ cards’ rules are quite silly but are easy to complete so players shouldn’t be punished much by them. Even though you can use your turn to get rid of a BullyQ card, I see no reason to waste a turn doing it. Also at times there are so many rules in play that it is hard for the Quao to keep track of all of them which will allow you to get away with breaking some of the rules.
Something I found a little strange about the game is the recommended age of 13+. I honestly think that is too high in my opinion. None of the cards were inappropriate in my opinion so I don’t know why children couldn’t play the game. I wouldn’t play the game with young children though since there is quite a bit of text on the cards. In comparison with a lot of these type of games, I found Quao to be pretty tame.
Overall the components are not bad. The cards are pretty thick and shouldn’t have issues as long as they are taken care of. The artwork is a little bland though since a large portion of the cards are just text. As mentioned before though the game just doesn’t have enough cards. You can play at max a couple games before having to play the game with all repeats.
Quao is an interesting game. The game has some interesting ideas (BullyQ cards) but a lot could be improved. Quao is a party game that will only work if all of the players are not afraid of making a fool out of themselves. The biggest problem with the game though is the lack of re-playability. Eseentially you can play the game two or three times before the game becomes stale.
As far as recommendations, if you don’t like games where you need to make a fool out of yourself you won’t like Quao. If you do like these type of games you will probably like Quao. It probably would be worth picking up but you may want to look for a deal on the game since you probably won’t get a lot of play out of it.