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QUARREL



 
General Description

Quarrel is a multiplayer word game developed by Denki and released on Xbox Live Arcade in January 2012. The original iOS version, which lacks a multiplayer mode, was released in the summer of 2011.

 

Quarrel plays like a combination of several board games, including Scrabble and Risk. Players start out with troops scattered about a handful of spaces on a fairly simplistic map, and choose adjacent spaces to attack during their turns. A battle is a word-building test. Both players are given the same eight letters, each with its own point value, and are challenged to make the highest-scoring word possible. The catch is that players can only use as many letters as they have troops on a given space, which makes for some strategic planning when reinforcing and moving squads around the board.

 

The game’s biggest strength has got to be classroom facts. Making words is most of the game, making it a great vocabulary builder if nothing else. It’s also a fairly strong game when it comes to mathematics, with juggling numbers being a prominent part of both word-building and troop-organizing.

 
Grade by Game Type Overall Grade
C- C
Ratings at a Glance
 
Facts: 4 Title: Quarrel
Creativity: 5 Publisher: UTV Ignition Entertainment
Business: 2 Developer: Denki
People: 2 Year: 2011
Problem: 5 Genre: Strategy
Simulation: 0 Strengths: popularity, problem, creativity
Popularity: 8 Platforms: Xbox Live
Extra: 0  
Rating Details

Classroom Facts


Players with larger vocabularies are naturally at an advantage in Quarrel, though there are other strategies that come into play. As players spend time with the game they will start to recognize the ways certain letters often work, particularly when trying to make the eight-letter anagrams. Common prefixes, suffixes and combinations of letters start to stick out. An S, for example, automatically thrusts certain options into play. Learning to manipulate these letters is important both when anagram-hunting and when building shorter words.

                                       

The point values assigned to each tile become important too. When players only have four or five letters to work with, higher-scoring tiles become vital when building a word. On the other hand high-point tiles are usually harder to place then more common letters. Players are also at an advantage if they complete their word before their opponent does, meaning players that can quickly scan their letters and add up point totals will succeed more often. In this way Quarrel has players working with mathematics more than many other games.

 

Creativity & Imagination

 

By the Player:

 

Players aren’t given much creative freedom here, except when it comes to forming their words. This might not sound like an area where creativity would be an advantage, but as it turns out a group of eight letters often has dozens of words hidden in it. Common suffixes and prefixes will quickly stick out to players, but it’s the game’s own liberal vocabulary that allows real creative room. It is sometimes advantageous to go with things that might be words rather than sticking to concrete knowledge. Adding suffixes, trying strange pluralizations or testing out unconventional spellings can often lead to victory.

 

By the Developer:

 

Quarrel is a simple but fairly ingenious combination of different games. The word-building of Scrabble - and more recently the very popular Words With Friends - is here, but in a much more fast-paced setting, and it’s combined with light strategy elements from other popular games. The wealth of solo game modes is a welcome surprise, but it’s in the multiplayer mode -which offers the unique thrill of trying to find an anagram before your opponent - that the game really thrives.

 

The game also offers a colorful, cartoony aesthetic and an accompanying soundtrack that compliment the game’s playful style and is meant to appeal to the more casual audience that Scrabble-style word games are often targeting.

 

Business Skills

 

Adding and subtracting points is key at any given moment when building a word, and it also comes to play in a broader sense when moving and reinforcing armies on the game board. Because having one or two troops more than your opponent is a significant advantage, having a well-defended space in a key section of the board is often vital. Players also gradually unlock bonus reinforcements, which allow them to drop one extra soldier in any given battle, and these can easily flip the odds between evenly-matched players. Saving them to use at the right moment is key.

 

People Skills

 

Quarrel borrows some of the strategic depth of board games like Risk, where players have troops situated in different territories of the game board. Quarrel’s boards are much simpler than Risk’s, but the same ideas apply when players start to gain footholds on certain spaces.

 

Players may not be able to reach a weakened opponent because of a much stronger one set up between them, for example.

 

Players will often have to decide how to disperse their troops near the end of a turn. Having the maximum of eight troops on a space can be a huge advantage, but it also often requires players to leave their other territories sparsely populated, which can be a liability depending on the situation. Strategies will reveal themselves during a round, and players that can read them will have an advantage. It may even be in a player’s best interest to allow a weakened opponent to remain in the game if he acts as a buffer between a stronger foe.

 

Problem Solving

 

Players are given eight letters at a time, and there is always at least one anagram in there that uses all of them. These are obviously the ideal moves, but can be hard to find, and in any case players need to have eight troops on a space - the maximum, and not always easy to collect - to take advantage. Instead the challenge is often to quickly scan the letters to find the key high-scoring tiles and figure out how to use as many of them as possible. In a tie the victory goes to the player who punched in his word first, giving each battle a frantic pace alongside a strategic depth, especially against other human players.

 

There are other mechanics to the game that involve earning bonus points that eventually award reinforcement troops, and moving between the spaces on the board can lead to strategic advantages as well. These concepts give the game more depth, though they are ultimately secondary to the game’s word-building challenges.

 

Simulation

 

Quarrel is not a simulation game.

 

Popularity

 

Quarrel has received largely positive reviews that praise its combination of elements from popular games and fast-paced mechanics. Its low five dollar price point and wealth of content were also singled out by many publications.

 

Controls & Options

 

Only a few very basic options are available. Players can use USB keyboards instead of Xbox controllers in order to enter their words more quickly.

 

Tips

 

Quarrel was rated Everyone 10+ by the ESRB with a descriptor for Fantasy Violence.