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Qwirkle is an award-winning puzzle game by Mindware. It’s quick to learn and quick to play but there is also plenty of room for tactical manoeuvres and well-planned strategies. Can you match enough colours and shapes to beat your opponents? The game is made up of 108 wooden tiles with six shapes in six colours. Players collect points by placing tiles of the same shape or colou…
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Fun for Kids


  • Artwork
  • Complexity
  • Replayability
  • Player Interaction
  • Component Quality

You Might Like

  • Simple to learn and teach to others
  • High colour contrast of the player tiles
  • The challenge of trying to read what tiles your opponents have
  • It’s just REALLY fun to say Qwirkle

Might Not Like

  • Scoring is cumulative so there’s often no suspense at the end
  • There are no added extras to give the base game more complexity
  • The only components are the tiles and a bag
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Qwirkle is an award-winning puzzle game by Mindware. It's quick to learn and quick to play but there is also plenty of room for tactical manoeuvres and well-planned strategies. Can you match enough colours and shapes to beat your opponents?

The game is made up of 108 wooden tiles with six shapes in six colours. Players collect points by placing tiles of the same shape or colour in a line. You'll score a point for every tile in a line, but there are bonus points up for grabs too! Complete a line of all six shapes or all six colours and you'll earn a whopping 12 points! This is called a Qwirkle.

Qwirkle is a classic abstract strategy game - ideal for family game night.

Player Count: 2-4

Time: 45 minutes

Age: 6+


Are board games more fun the more complicated they are?

This is a conversation a few other Zatu bloggers and I had one evening. Don’t get me wrong, we are all a sucker for a good theme. Sometimes it’s really good to immerse yourself in a heavy, euro-style game. However, a lot of the time, you want a game that has few rules. You also want those few rules to be watertight. You want a game that takes no time to set up and put away. You want a game that caters to a range of experience and abilities. If this is what you want, I may have a suggestion for you.

When Life Gives You Qwirkle, It Outsells Lemonade

I’ve had a copy of Qwirkle for a few years now. Up until about two years ago, it was one of about three board games I possessed. Qwirkle is actually a Spiel des Jahres winner from 2011. Not only is it prestigious, but it has also sold over 4 million copies worldwide… 1.5 million more than Lemonade by Beyonce.

Qwirkle is a 2-4 player abstract tile-placement game by Mindwire. The aim of the game is to make rows of up to six tiles. You are aiming to make rows that either match in colour or shape. Each player has a hand of six tiles, which are hidden from the other players. To start with, each player says how many tiles they’d be able to play in one go. The person who can make the longest row goes first. Once you have taken your turn, you take tiles from the bag and restock your hand. The game then continues to go around until the bag is empty and one player has used up their tiles. The person with the most points wins the game. This game sounds simple because it is, but don’t let the simplicity fool you too much.

Row Row Row Your Qwirkle…

What Qwirkle lacks in components, it makes up for in strategy. If you are making a row of shapes, you can’t duplicate shapes of the same colour. If you are making rows by colour, you can’t duplicate the same shape. You get a point for every tile in the row you’ve built on, as well as any new rows you may have created. If there is a row of six, that person declares they’ve made a Qwirkle and gets six bonus points.

Not knowing what each player has in their hand makes you second guess yourself multiple times. Do you risk adding a fourth or fifth tile to a row? What if someone makes a Qwirkle and gets a bonus? Will I win if I keep playing it safe? In truth, not being able to see your opponents’ tiles does mean analysis paralysis can creep in. This in turn can really slow the game down.

A Night On The Tiles

As I’ve mentioned before, Qwirkle is very low on components. It’s a bag full of tiles. The tiles are robust, and the patterns are different enough to not be confusing. There’s no playing board, so all you need is a reasonably big surface to play on. I would advise using a playing mat rather than a tabletop. The middle of the board can become quite congested, and tiles can easily be knocked out of place. A game can be set up in literally seconds. Not only does it mean that Qwirkle is a great game to play, but often you’ll want to play again straight afterwards. Qwirkle really is a terrific gateway game for people who want to give the hobby a go. It’s also a fantastic option for more casual gamers too.

The thing that makes Qwirkle an excellent gateway game may also put more experienced gamers off. There are no extra levels to the game and the scoring is cumulative. Using Ticket to Ride as an example, the scoring of tickets at the end means there’s an element of suspense all the way through. You don’t get that suspense with a game of Qwirkle. What you see is very much what you get. This can cause people to lose interest if they can see one player scoring big and storming ahead. At the risk of sounding super critical, I also think there is a slight lack of finesse in the Qwirkle box. I often agree that less is more, but Qwirkle could give me a little extra. I would love something more, like the individual scoring cards like you have in Azul. Maybe even a little pad and pencil rather than having to find your own.

Final Thoughts on Qwirkle

At the start of this review, I asked whether more complex board games are always more fun. My answer would simply be no. Games are not always better if they’re more complicated. Exhibit A: Qwirkle. If I told you the game takes a minute to set up, I’d be overestimating by about fifty seconds. The rules are easy to follow, and the examples in the book make it easy to teach. This doesn’t take away from the depth offered by a game of Qwirkle. It’s both fun to say and fun to play. Besides, if Qwirkle is outselling Queen Bey, they must be doing something right.

qwirkle (1)

Qwirkle is a game I’ve played countless times. It is always a favourite to fill in some time and despite being an easy game to learn and play, it comes with depth and plenty of room for strategic play.

The Basics

The game is played with two to four players. Each player starts with a ‘hand’ of six tiles. These are the lovely, chunky wooden tiles you get with different coloured shapes on one side. There are six different colours and six different shapes.

Each turn, players take it in turns to place a ‘line’ of tiles. This line can be between one and six tiles long. The golden rule on placing is this: the line you place must comprise tiles of all the same colour OR all the same shape and no duplication. When you add a line, it must join at least one other tile already in play. It may join more than one, but the golden rule of Qwirkle is wherever a line of two or more tiles are joined together each ‘line’ must be the same colour OR the same shape with no duplicates.

You can see from the image an example of play. The first line placed was the line of green tiles – all green, but different shapes. Another line is then added of starbursts. The green starburst joins the line of green shapes to make the move legal. In each row or line in the image, the golden rule of Qwirkle is met- same shape OR same colour with no duplicated tiles.

Once you have scored, grab the bag of tiles, give it a shake if you like and replenish your hand of tiles back up to a set of six. If there are not enough tiles to take your hand back to six tiles,S that means the bag is now empty and play continues until someone uses their last tile.

On your turn, if you want, you can trade tiles. You simply set aside the tiles you don’t want and draw the same number from the bag, then add the discarded tiles to the bag. You will not score any points for this turn though so you will need to choose between possible a very poor turn, where at least you will score something or gamble or getting more useful tiles so you can make up the loss on hopefully your next turn.

The Scoring

Scoring in Qwirkle is straightforward enough. You score one point per tile in a line. If you create multiple lines with your placement, you will score one point per tile in each line. In the image you can see three orange tiles added to form two ‘lines’. The first line with the three orange shapes scores three points, but since a second line has been created ie a line of two circles, the player also scores additional two points and yes the orange circle scores twice! So the total for that placement of orange tiles is five points. It is not unusual for a player to score between four and eight points on most turns.

Qwirkle ! If at any time a player places or completes a line of six tiles, (remember all same colour OR all same shape), in addition to scoring six points for the six tiles, you get a bonus six points for completing a Qwirkle ! And this is in addition to whatever you score for any additional lines you add to. Honestly, if you want to do a little dance at this point or stretch your arms like a gladiator go right ahead, whatever works, just remember your opponents may reciprocate in like manner if they make a Qwirkle . It is possible to place six tiles to form one Qwirkle whilst adding to a line of five to form a second.

In the image, imagine a yellow starburst at the top or bottom end of the starburst row, then the player placing the line of orange tiles had the full set of shapes, this orange line could be added so that the orange starburst joined one end of the starburst line.

This would be amazing honestly, but then questions would be raised as to how it was allowed to happen!

Game Ending

When the tiles run out you will know the game will shortly be ending. The game will end when one player uses their last tile. When a player does this, they also score a bonus of six points for finishing first.


Qwirkle is very simple in respect of the basic game, but understanding how to ‘use the board’ ie the existing layout of tiles is something that adds a layer of depth. Try to avoid simply adding a few tiles to the end of a line, but think how you can score for multiple lines.

One thing to bear in mind is that there are 108 tiles and three copies of each tile. This will influence how you play. Placing a fifth tile to a line in the early game may set up someone else’s Qwirkle but in the later game, when you know all three copies of the necessary tile to complete are already placed, you can go ahead and place safely.

You may want to hold on to tiles if you think that they might help you score a Qwirkle later on, there is a luck element, but then preparing yourself can allow you to take advantage of an opening. Sometimes players will gamble on opening up a possible Qwirkle , if it means their turn is particularly high scoring.

There is also scope to make life difficult for your opponents by blocking off possible scoring opportunities. Placing several lines of tiles of similar colour or shape in one area can effectively block off that area for expansion later, but this could also hamper your scoring later on too.

Final Thoughts

Qwirkle is a simple and quite elegant game. The tiles are good quality, chunky and won’t get blown away that easily, so you could play it outdoors say on a picnic table, you just need a flat table with no gaps. The components are simple enough, you get a nice drawstring bag to put all 108 tiles in and so game set up and packing away are easy and quick enough.

It is simple to teach the basics and demonstrate examples of valid moves. It is simple enough for children to learn with the age recommendation being 6+. It is a great filler, ie a game you can easily play within an hour even with teaching the rules. The game is very re-playable, every game will be different because of combinations of tiles you draw and how the ‘board’ layout grows. Player interaction is there most turns because ideally you are always balancing what you can score now, what you might be able to score later and what opportunities your opponents might have by your placement.

Final score. It gets a solid 4 starbursts out of 5 for me. An elegant, quick and simple game and whilst it isn’t a heavy, hours long strategy game, it fits in as a nice filler very well.



Zatu Score


  • Artwork
  • Complexity
  • Replayability
  • Player Interaction
  • Component Quality

You might like

  • Simple to learn and teach to others
  • High colour contrast of the player tiles
  • The challenge of trying to read what tiles your opponents have
  • Its just REALLY fun to say Qwirkle

Might not like

  • Scoring is cumulative so theres often no suspense at the end
  • There are no added extras to give the base game more complexity
  • The only components are the tiles and a bag