I don’t know what it was this weekend that caused me to pull the box off the shelf, but for some reason I was drawn to Mike Elliot and Eric Lang’s bizarre collaboration, Quarriors. I dusted off the box that had languished on the shelf for the last seven years, wracking my brain trying to remember how it played. I had a vague and fuzzy recollection but it was no good I was going to need to relearn this one from scratch.
I bought Quarriors almost upon release in 2011. Back then I was still enamoured with the concept of deck building. #Thunderstone was a regular on our table so Mike Elliot was a fan favourite of ours. Lang hadn’t yet become the household name he is now, but I knew him well, as #WarhammerInvasion was, and still is, one of my favourite card games of all time. It seemed like a match made in heaven.
When we played it in the January of 2012 it hit the table six times, after that it had some brief resurgence, each time following me adding an expansion to the game. However by the end of 2012 it would be a full year before the game came out again and even then it was for one last time.
I always wanted to love Quarriors but it was always just a little underwhelming. Perhaps it was the awkward marriage between dice and cards that always felt like a gimmick. Perhaps it was constantly needing to explain the numbers on the dice because Wizkids were too cheap to include a player aid. Or perhaps it was simply that, despite the claims on the box, it isn’t really a deck builder, certainly not as we understood the term at the time.
Dominion and Thunderstone are both multiplayer solitaire, sure there are some cards that interact with your opponents but mostly they were engine building games. Quarriors was not that, it was a direct conflict game that is entirely about denying your opponents the opportunity to score points. It’s mean and having gotten it to the table this weekend after seven years away, it’s actually super fun!
All the things that killed it for me are still there, the low production values, poor quality control, the confusing turn structure and lack of player aids, but despite all that it’s a solid game. In our first game I didn’t even score a single point but I had a lot of fun. In a four player game this is a tense combat game, where scoring a point is a big deal and the turns where you score four or five points are practically legendary!
Is the point of this story that you should rush out and buy a copy of Quarriors? Not really, but what you should do is take a long look at your collection, at that pile of games on the bottom shelf, gathering dust and growing mushrooms… pull one out and play it again, maybe you’ll be reminded why you loved it in the first place.
So much of our gaming lives are now spent in the pursuit of a new experience, a new high, but often this is to the abandonment of the replay. As kids we didn’t have oodles of board games, so we played our games to death. We modded our games and even created new games but in our adult lives some of the exploration, creativity and wonder has been lost. So dust off the old games, gather up some friends and take a stroll down memory lane because the old dogs might just surprise you with new tricks.