For thousands of years dice games have been quite popular. The genre is quite popular because the premise is so simple. You basically roll the dice to try and get various dice combinations. Some dice games are so popular that they date back hundreds of years. A more recent dice game that is quite popular is the classic game Yahtzee which was introduced in the 1950s. I think Yahtzee owes a lot of its popularity to how simple the game is to play as with just a little explanation basically everyone can play the game. Since the 1950s there have been quite a few dice games that have tried to dethrone Yahtzee as the king of traditional dice games and have failed for the most part because they rarely differentiated themselves from it. That all changed in 2012 when Qwixx was released. Qwixx quickly became a hit and was even nominated for the Spiel Des Jahres in 2013. I am generally more of a fan of dice games that mix in other mechanics, but I don’t mind an occasional traditional dice game so I wanted to try out Qwixx due to how highly it is rated. Qwixx may share a lot in common with your traditional dice rolling game, but it improves upon Yahtzee and other similar games to become one of my favorite games from the genre.
How to Play Qwixx
- Each player takes a score sheet and a writing utensil.
- All of the players take one die and roll it at the same time. The first player to roll a six will be the first “active player”.
Crossing Off Numbers
In Qwixx each player will control their own score sheet. Throughout the game the players will be crossing off numbers from one of the four colored rows on their own score sheet. Players can cross off a number in a row as long as they follow one rule. A player cannot cross off a number from a row that is left of a number that has already been crossed off in that row.
Playing the Game
Each round begins with the active player rolling all of the dice. The players will then take two actions.
First the active player will add up the numbers rolled on the two white dice. They will announce this number to the other players. All of the players in the game then have the option to cross off a number from one of their rows that match the total that was rolled.
The players can cross off a number from any color row and it doesn’t have to be the number on the far left of that row. When crossing off a number players need to be aware that they can no longer cross off any numbers from that row that are to the left of the number they crossed off. Any of the players can choose not to cross off any number from their score sheet.
The active player (but none of the other players) then has the option to take another action. The active player can add one of the white dice to one of the color dice. They can then cross off the number from the corresponding color row.
End of Round and Penalties
Before the next round begins the players will check to see if the active player committed a penalty. If the active player failed to cross off at least one number from either of the actions they will face a penalty. For the penalty they will have to cross off one of their penalty boxes which will be worth negative five points at the end of the game.
The active player will then pass the dice to the player on their left who becomes the new active player. This player will roll the dice which will start the next round.
Locking A Row
As you progress through the game players will begin to cross off numbers closer and closer to the right side of the rows. Eventually a player will want to cross off the last number to the right of a row. For a player to be able to cross off the last number in a row they must have already crossed off five numbers in that row. When a player crosses off the last number in a row they will also cross off the lock symbol. This lock symbol will count as another space for the row during scoring. Once a player crosses off the lock for one of the colors, that color is locked for the rest of the game. The corresponding color die is removed from the game and players can no longer cross off numbers from that color. Multiple players can cross off the same color during the first action. If a color is closed during the first action the active player can’t score from that color during the second action.
End of Game
Qwixx can end in one of two ways. The game will either end when one player crosses off their fourth penalty box or two of the colors have been locked. When either of these two things happen the game will immediately end.
The players will then tally up their scores. Located at the bottom of each score sheet is a table. Players will score each of their color rows separately. They will count up how many spaces they have crossed off in each row and will score points based on the table. The players will tally up their penalty points which are equal to negative five points for each penalty. The players will add up all of their points to get their total score. The player who scores the most points will win the game.
My Thoughts on Qwixx
I wouldn’t consider dice games to be my favorite genre of board games, but I don’t mind an occasional game as they are easy to play and can be pretty fun. I personally would break dice games down into two genres. First there are the more traditional dice rolling games. These are games like Yahtzee where you roll regular six sided dice in order to roll certain combinations and score points. Then there are what I consider more modern dice rolling games. These type of games usually utilize special dice with special symbols or other distinguishing characteristics. In addition to the dice they usually add mechanics from other genres to your typical dice rolling mechanics. Of the two I typically prefer more modern dice rolling games as most traditional dice rolling games just feel like more of the same as they usually don’t do anything particularly original. I think Qwixx could be the best traditional dice rolling game that I have ever played though.
Qwixx succeeds beyond a lot of other similar games for a couple reasons. I would say the main reason is that the game does a great job remaining accessible while still giving players enough options where things remain interesting. Outside of some basic math skills (counting up to 12) the game should be quite easy for anyone to play. You basically roll the dice and decide whether you want to cross off a number. This simplicity allows players to teach the game to new players within a couple minutes. The simplicity also leads to the game playing rather quickly. Your first game may take a little longer, but most games should only take around 15 minutes unless one of the players suffer from severe analysis paralysis. This makes Qwixx a perfect filler game. With its small box it is a perfect game to bring along when you have a few spare minutes or it can even work great as a break from more complicated games.
In addition to the simplicity Qwixx succeeds because it keeps players always invested in the game. Players take turns rolling the dice, but even when it is not your turn you will have a decision to make. The problem with a lot of traditional dice rolling games is that they can have quite a bit of downtime. Most games from this genre have you just sit around on the other players’ turns while they decide what they want to do. Your decision on other players’ turns in Qwixx is usually pretty obvious, but it still does a good job of keeping players engaged even when it is not their turn. You can do the most damage on your own turn as you have the ability to cross off two numbers, but you need to take advantage of the other players’ turns or you will fall behind.
I think the best thing about Qwixx though is that it does a great job tweaking the traditional dice rolling game while still remaining loyal to the genre. While playing Qwixx it reminded me a lot of games like Yahtzee and yet it still felt like a breath of fresh air. You are still trying to roll different number combinations, but the game’s mechanics add a really interesting twist to the formula. Instead of rolling a combination and crossing it off your scoresheet you are given options over what you want to cross off as you have have several options on every turn. The game’s mechanics may seem kind of basic at first, but they are quite clever. The game gives you four different color tracks of numbers that you can cross numbers off of. Two tracks go from low to high while the other two go from high to low. Crossing off numbers might not sound all that interesting except for the fact that you can’t cross off any number to the left of a number that you have already crossed off in a row.
This introduces a really interesting risk versus reward element to the game. Whenever you roll the next number in a row it is usually pretty obvious that you want to cross it off as it costs you nothing and will score you some points. Things become more interesting though when you roll numbers that aren’t the next number in any of your rows. At this point you need to make a decision. Do you cross off a number forgoing the ability to cross off the numbers to the left of the number you just crossed off? Each number you cross off in a row scores you more points so skipping numbers loses you points. If you wait and don’t cross off a number though you face other potential issues. If you are the active player you will face a five point penalty if you don’t cross off any numbers on your turn. Otherwise you have to be aware of what the other players are doing. If you don’t cross off numbers you will fall behind the other players and they might end the game before you are able to maximize your score. To do well in Qwixx you really need to balance these two options to try and maximize your points while not falling behind the other players.
The decision making really makes the game in my opinion. Like any dice rolling game there is going to be luck in the game. There is no way to truly avoid luck in dice rolling games as you need to rely on rolling the right numbers. This reliance on luck seems to be less in Qwixx though because the game presents you with plenty of decisions to consider each turn. The decisions are usually pretty obvious, but there will be key decisions in each game that will likely determine who will win the game. Rolling well on your turn certainly will help your chances, but you need to choose the right numbers to cross off as well as choose when to play it safe and when to take a risk. All of these decisions have an impact on the ultimate winner. Qwixx truly presents players with quite a few more decisions that your typical dice rolling game as in those games the only decisions come from what dice you want to re-roll.
I think Qwixx ultimately succeeds because it is such a unique take on your traditional dice rolling game. The unique twists make a genre that is usually pretty repetitive feel fresh and new. Fans of the dice rolling genre will get something truly unique with Qwixx. The problem is that the game still shares quite a bit in common with its genre. People who love the genre or at least somewhat like it should have quite a bit of fun with it. It doesn’t really do enough to differentiate itself though to appeal to people that have never really cared for dice rolling games. You are still basically just rolling dice to make different dice combinations. Qwixx is a good game, but it isn’t going to suddenly makes someone care about the dice rolling genre.
Like a lot of traditional dice rolling games it is not too surprising that there isn’t a ton to the game’s components. You basically are just given dice and score pad sheets. The dice are your typical six sided dice, but their quality is pretty good. As for the score pad sheets there are positives and negatives. I think they are designed really well as they do a good job making the gameplay really easy to follow. The game also includes quite a few sheets. The problem is the need for paper sheets in the first place. The game would have been better off just utilizing a dry erase board so you could play as many games as you wanted without having to worry about running out of sheets. Due to the paper sheets you either need to purchase new packs of scoresheets or consider making your own sheets. As I mentioned earlier I love that the game comes in such a compact box. The box is a little larger than a standard deck of playing cards. You could easily bring the game with you while traveling as you basically only need a hard surface to roll the dice on.
The basic components lead to one of the biggest problems with Qwixx though. The fact is that it is one of those games that you can easily make your own version of. Nothing about the components are particularly original were you can easily make your own version of the game. The game basically just utilizes six dice of various colors and score pad sheets. All you would need to make your own version of the game is to find two white, one red, one green, one blue, and one yellow dice; and print off the score pad sheets. For a game that features so little I would normally think the game was overproduced as a game this simple should be quite cheap in order to prevent people from making their own versions of the game. The good news is that the game is quite cheap where you can usually find it for around $10. This makes it a little more palatable that you are paying for a few dice and some score pad sheets.
With how successful Qwixx has been it is not that surprising that the game has had quite a few spinoff games created over the years. As a matter of fact the game has a total of eight different spinoff games as of 2019. With the gameplay being so basic I was really curious about how the spinoffs would differ from the original game. It turns out that each spinoff mostly just slightly tweaks the original game. Most of the spinoffs feature different types of scoresheets which feature different arrangements of the numbers. Some of the other spinoffs tweak the scoring, add special powers, turn the dice game into a card game, and one even adds a competitive mode where the players have to share a board. I haven’t checked out these other versions of the game, but these tweaks seem interesting enough that they would keep the game fresh. I don’t know if they would drastically change the gameplay though. While I haven’t played it I would probably recommend picking up the deluxe version of Qwixx over the original version for two reasons. First it replaces the paper scoresheets with dry erase boards so you don’t have to worry about running out of sheets. It also includes one of the unique scoresheets found in one of the other expansions. As both games are close to the same price I think it would be better to pick up the deluxe version over the original game.
Should You Buy Qwixx?
On the surface Qwixx may look like every other traditional dice rolling game. You basically roll dice trying to roll different combinations to score more points than the other players. What differentiates Qwixx from other dice rolling games though is the score sheets. How you score points in the game is just so clever. Every turn you can cross off numbers which will score you points, but if you don’t cross off the next number for a row you lose the ability to cross off the numbers to the left for the rest of the game. This adds a really interesting risk and reward element to the game as when and where you choose to cross off numbers has a big impact on your final score. While Qwixx still relies on quite a bit of luck there is quite a bit more decision making than you typical game from the genre. Qwixx is quick and easy to play and keeps players engaged even when it is not their turn. This makes Qwixx a great filler game. It is still a dice rolling game though which will turn off some players. While the components are solid, possibly the biggest problem with Qwixx might be the fact that the components are so basic that you can easily make your own version of the game. Qwixx is still probably the best traditional dice rolling game that I have ever played.
My recommendation for Qwixx comes down to your opinion on dice rolling games. If you hate the genre the game probably won’t be for you. If you generally like dice rolling games though I would highly recommend picking up Qwixx or at the very least making your own version with dice that you have lying around the house.