Maureen Hiron is a board game designer who designed board games from the 1980s to the early 2010s. While she never designed a blockbuster game, during her 30-40 years of designing games she has designed around 50 games. Her most well known games are probably 7 Ate 9 and Cosmic Cows. In the past we looked at one of Maureen Hiron’s games StrataGem. Today I am looking at another of her games Qwitch. Qwitch is a solid speed card game that fails to do anything really original.
How to Play Qwitch
- Separate the cards based on the color on the back of the cards. Shuffle each set of cards separately.
- Take the top card from the Qwitch cards (blue back) and place it face down in the middle of the table.
- Deal out of the rest of the cards so everyone receives the same number of cards. Any extra cards are not used in the game.
- Each player takes the top five cards from their pile and adds them to their hand.
- The top card from the direction cards (green back) is flipped over onto the table. The Qwitch card on the table is also flipped over.
- The player to the left of the dealer will play first.
Playing the Game
In the main version of the game players will take turns playing cards. Players will play a card based on the top card in the Qwitch pile as well as the top face up direction card. There are three different direction cards:
- Up: The players have to play a card whose number and/or letter is one above the card on the top of the Qwitch pile.
- Down: The players have to play a card whose number and/or letter is one below the card on the top of the Qwitch pile.
- Equal: The players have to play a card that either shares the number or letter of the card on the top of the Qwitch pile.
On a player’s turn they can play one card if it meets the previous requirements. If a player has no cards that can be played, they must pass their turn.
Players continue taking turns playing cards until play stops. Play can stop for one of two reasons:
- All of the players pass because they don’t have a card that they can play.
- One of the players has played all of the cards in their hand.
When the game stops all of the players draw cards from their pile until they have five cards in their hand. The top card from the direction pile is then flipped over and becomes the direction that the players have to follow. The player to the left of the player who played the last card resumes the game.
Winning the Game
The game ends when one player has been able to get rid of all of the cards from their pile. That player wins the game.
The advanced game for the most part follows the same rules as the main game. The one major difference is that players no longer take turns playing cards. All of the players will be able to play cards at the same time.
Players are unable to draw new cards until one of the scenarios from above stop the game. All of the players will draw back to five cards and a new direction card is turned over by the player to the left of the player who turned over the previous destination card.
My Thoughts Qwitch
When I first looked at Qwitch I have to admit that the game looked like many other speed card games that I had played in the past. The problem with the speed card game genre is that there are a lot of games and most of them share very similar mechanics. Before playing Qwitch I feared that it was going to be another game in the very long list of completely average card games. While my first thoughts were right to a point, Qwitch does have a couple interesting ideas.
One thing that interested me when I first looked at the instructions for Qwitch is the fact that the game includes both a turn based and a speed mode. I have to say that I haven’t encountered a lot of card games that have both. Most card games choose one of the two and stick with it. I will say that it wasn’t that hard to include both for Qwitch though since the only difference between the two modes is whether or not players take turns playing cards. I still appreciate that the game included both modes since it allows the game to be enjoyed by people that don’t really like speed games.
Of the two ways to play the game I personally preferred the speed game by quite a bit. If you don’t care for speed games I could see you preferring the normal mode but I found it to be a little dull. While speed is key in the speed game, in the main game you have to rely on luck and choosing cards that force the other players to pass their turns. In the main game you probably want to try and play a card that has one element that is at the top or bottom (based on the current direction) since that limits what the next player can play. This makes it harder for them to play a card on their turn and thus increases the odds of them having to pass their turn. Getting other players to pass their turn is key in the main game as that is the only way you can get a lead.
Lets move onto the speed game. While there is still some strategy in what cards you choose to play on your turn, speed is the deciding factor. Not surprisingly the speed game benefits the players who can quickly recognize what cards can be played and then play them. During the speed game you basically need to keep track of the letter and number that you can play and then quickly search through the cards in your hand to try and find one that you can play. The only real strategy in the speed game is to try and play cards in a way that allows you to play several of your cards in a row. If you have several cards that can be played together you have an advantage because while the other players are trying to figure out what cards they can play, you can already play your next card.
While I personally like speed games, one of the biggest problems that people have with them is that they can become chaotic pretty quickly. That is not surprising since players are trying to play their cards as quickly as possible. Some of these speed games can become really chaotic as there are no breaks until the game ends. Others have the occasional break if a situation arises where no one can play any cards. What is interesting about Qwitch is that it has built in breaks. Since there is a limit on how many cards players can have in their hands, either someone will run out of cards or no one will be able to play a card forcing a break in the game. These breaks give players an opportunity to reset/rebound which prevents players from running away with the game. I really liked these breaks since it reduces the chaos that these type of games normally have.
So there are things to like about Qwitch. Qwitch is a fun and quick game that everyone can enjoy. The biggest problem with Qwitch is the simple fact that it feels like so many other card games. The game has a couple small tweaks but the basic gameplay is so similar to quite a few other card games. If you have ever played one of these type of card games before, Qwitch is going to seem awfully familiar. Qwitch is not a bad game but it doesn’t do anything special either. Honestly if you already own one of these type of games and enjoy it I don’t know if there really is a reason to pick up Qwitch.
Should You Buy Qwitch?
Qwitch is what I would consider the definition of a very generic card game. The game is quick and easy to play and you can have fun with it. I liked that the game includes both a speed and turn based game since it gives players options. The speed game is better in my opinion but I could see the turn based game working for people that don’t care for speed games. While the speed game can get chaotic at times I liked that Qwitch has some built in breaks which allow players a chance to reset. The problem with Qwitch is that the game is not much different than so many other card games. The game is not bad but if you have played any of these other card games it is going to feel like you have already played Qwitch.
If you don’t really care for card games or don’t like speed games, I don’t think Qwitch is going to be for you. If you already have a lot of these type of card games, I don’t think Qwitch is original enough to justify purchasing. If you really like these type of card games though and can find it for cheap it may be worth picking up Qwitch.
If you would like to purchase Qwitch you can find it online: Amazon, eBay
Saturday 16th of November 2019
What I don't understand is what happens if direction card says + but the last card played is a H8. There is not a card that can be put on that card. H is the highest letter and 8 is the highest number. That means, there is no way to play on that. So you have to keep playing direction cards until you find one that is minus or equal? Seems lame to me.
Sunday 17th of November 2019
The official rules for Qwitch don't seem to address this specific situation. The rules do specifically state though that the letters and numbers don't roll over. For example you can't play a one on an eight. Based on this I can see two possible solutions to the situation you described. The first option is what you described where you have to keep drawing direction cards until you find one that works. The other option could be to utilize a specific rule that the instructions mention that you can only use when players can't play any cards no matter what the direction card is. In this case you are allowed to take the bottom card from the Qwitch pile and put it on the top of the pile.
I am guessing that the game intends for you to keep drawing direction cards until you find one that works. but if you prefer this alternative rule I assume you could it as well.