Have you have ever sat wandering what it would be like if you mixed Scrabble with Risk, and then threw in some Count Down? Play Quarrel and you will have your answer in a matter of minutes!
Publisher: UTV Ignition Games
Price: 400 Microsoft Points
The game might look a little cheesy when you fire it up, with the soundtrack screaming “game show”, but that will all be forgotten when you see a little Quarrel trooper come out with a comment like, “War, what is it good for? Eight points”. You’ll genuinely laugh, and head into the world of Quarrel with a smile on your face.
Graphically, Quarrel isn’t at all offensive. It by no means has the most amazing graphics in the world, but it does the job. Bright colours, clean and fun, perfectly matching the style of the game.
So, lets get into the nitty-gritty. A game of Quarrel is set on a little island (which would be the board, were it a board game) with small territories. These are equally divided between all parties ready to engage in all out word based warfare. One game can contain anything from 2 – 4 players.
Quarrel is turn based, so the order of play is chosen at random before you begin. It is here that you will be introduced to your troops. Like a game of worms your soldiers have certain personalities. Quarrel has taken this blue print and created an assortment of different characters and nations to aid you in combat. You can get pirates, kilt wearing Scottish people, Aztec tribes folk, Ninjas and more!
Once your position in the order of play has been decided, your territories are identified by your colour and your troops will drop in. One territory can have a maximum squad of eight troops on it, but you will usually start with a number in the four/five region.
To get to grips with the game and have 15 minutes feeling like an Atomic King, play the tutorial. Every word is spelled out for you and the computer doesn’t stand a chance of winning. Enjoy this moment though, flying solo is quite the baptism of fire!
When it is your turn to attack, you select a squad you wish to use and then the territory you wish to invade. This is where your inner words-smith will need to be sharp! Each player is given the same eight letters to make a word, this is because each set of letters is also an anagram, and you get bonus points for figuring it out. The twist is that the number of troops in your squad dictates the amount of letters you can use, so five troops = five letter word.
To win the Quarrel, just enter a word that scores higher than your opponent. Doing so will mean the winner’s troops hurl the winning letters at the sorry looking loser’s, hilariously destroying them in the process. With the battle over, you then take the territory you set your sights on and increase your wordy empire. If you lose though, your entire squad bar one will be demolished. Some of your little troopers may even be taken prisoner, it really sucks seeing your men fighting for another army! Are they prisoners or defectors? Either way they should be instantly shot for leaving you!
When there are more than two players in the game, Quarrel makes sure you don’t feel like a third wheel by giving you a bonus round. While two players are quarrelling, you are given the same eight letters as they are to figure out the anagram, or just make a word to score you some points. This combined with taking territories and having a squad that wins three plus Quarrels in one turn, all give you points that go towards calling in reinforcements. This is handy when another player thinks that you are an easy target, just before the Quarrel begins you can even the odds by calling in one of your reinforcements.
So, that all sounds simple enough. Is it that simple though? No. Just no.
Like Scrabble each letter has a value on it. If you play a five letter word that scores seven points, your adversary could play a four letter word that scores 9 points, just because they used letters with higher value. Taking your time is wise, well, if you had time to take that is. You only have about one minute to pick your word. This makes Quarrel challenging, but also introduces an element of panic that can literally make your head hurt as you search your brain for the right words.
Quarrel is a very simple, amusing and colourful game that sadly lets itself down in some big ways. If you play a match against the computer and draw on a word, the winner is decided by who entered a word the quickest. Unless you have the brain of Stephen Hawking and the speed of the Flash, you will lose the tie break 90% of the time. This very factor can be the turning point in a game, making you want to rage quit and somehow throw it out of the window! Thankfully, it’s more realistic and fair to play someone in a multiplayer match up.
Equally frustrating is that when you spell a word incorrectly, a good three seconds of you precious time is taken up with Quarrel telling you off for guessing, or generally being a fool. However, the cherry on the cake is that the game decides some words don’t exist. You will need to disengage your potty mouth too (which we all have in us), as even words like “COITUS” are considered “undesirable”. A warning of this before your squad of six lose to a squad of two would be nice. Perhaps a message on one of the loading screens or menus would have sufficed, as other facts and jokes pop up all the time. For example, “the Quarrel dictionary has over 114,000 words in it”, would it be so hard to add that they are all clean?
A purchase of Quarrel will go down well if you are someone who has enjoyed years of Boggle, Scrabble and Countdown. A finely tuned eye that can create a word out of jumbled up letters is a weapon of mass destruction. It sadly seems like a game that will appeal most to a niche market. Any one that picks it up and has a go will enjoy it, but the question is for how long? It is the logophiles (people who love words – Quarrel taught me something) who are going to find themselves returning on a regular basis.