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Awards

Rating

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

You Might Like

  • Beautiful and sturdy components
  • Simple yet highly strategic
  • Satisfying on all accounts

Might Not Like

  • The price (but it's understandable)
Find out more about our blog & how to become a member of the blogging team by clicking here

Qawale Review

qawale

Have you ever been so angry at a game you wanted to pelt a stone at your opponent? Now you can! (It’s not part of the game, but with Qawale, you can do it if you want to.)

CONNECT FOUR

Qawale (pronounced ka-wah-lay) is a beautiful 2-person competitive strategy game where players aim to make a line of 4 stones of their colour. Each turn, a player must place a stone of their colour on another stone/pile. Then, they must move the pile to an adjacent space and drop off a stone until all the stones of that pile have been placed. Players alternate taking turns until 4 stones are in a line and visible at the top of their pile.

Qawale is the kind of game that I would usually look at and pass up. Not a lot going for it in regards to theming, no scaling up for bigger groups and a hefty price for a game often compared to Connect 4. So why is it so captivating?

THE BEAUTY OF QAWALE

Well, the design is stunning. The creators - Romain Froger and Didier Lenain-Bragard - aimed to replicate the feeling of stacking stones along paths in nature and on trails and that’s reflected beautifully in the design. It makes you feel like you're placing stones in a zen garden. Everything lands with a satisfying CLACK which adds a great accent to every decision you make throughout the game, and the pieces feel substantial and nice to hold with their smooth surface and rounded edges. I also recommend using them as fidget toys and drumsticks whilst you wait for your opponent to make their move.

THE GAMEPLAY ROCKS

The game tends to open quickly, with only a handful of moves to be made from the corners you start from. The first 2 or 3 stones are played out, maybe mostly-absent-mindedly shifting piles around the board to lay foundations or try and thwart your opponent’s set-ups. However, It isn’t long before you have to be smart. Are you wanting to build up a pile that will allow you to line up your pieces all at once? Are you needing to cover up your opponent’s visible stones so they don’t win on their next turn? Or are you going to accidentally make a move that gives your opponent a winning move? Before you know it, one of you has made four-in-a-row. That’s game! And you have to play again because it was so quick and simple and satisfying.

Qawale has a way of blindsiding you that perfectly blends frustration with awe. You can be staring at the board and miss an obvious connection, or watch a pile be played in the perfect sequence to take the win. You can’t help but commend when one of you figures out the puzzle that you’ve both created, and the competitive urge to win will keep you figuring out new ways to approach the board that lead to more interesting layouts and more puzzles to solve.

FINAL THOUGHTS

Qawale has really swept my feet from under me. A game so basic, but so deceptively complex in a way that doesn’t hurt its gameplay but empowers your experience. The game does retail for ~£35, which I still believe is a hefty price for a 2 player game with one board and 24 pieces, however it is akin to investing in a decent chess board. It’s made with love and you can’t fault the quality of the materials. Even the board impressed me with its heft!

At the end of the day, I know if I play this too much I will eventually get Qawale-burnout and leave it in its box (or on display, it really is that pretty) to not be played for years, but it has opened up a new interest in this style of game for me, so maybe some other Gigamic titles will fall into my collection sooner or later. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have some nature to admire and some stones to lay.

Zatu Score

Rating

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

You might like

  • Beautiful and sturdy components
  • Simple yet highly strategic
  • Satisfying on all accounts

Might not like

  • The price (but it's understandable)

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