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How To Play Qwirkle: Qwirkle Rules

Overview

Qwirkle is a tile-based colour and shape matching game designed for kids from age 6 upwards. The game is fun and easy to play and suitable for a family fun time. Players aim to score the most points by creating and extending tile chains strategically based on colour or shape. A chain can only have 6 tiles and a complete chain is known as Qwirkle. A player who completes a Qwirkle earns 6 bonus points. Players receive points at the end of each turn and the player with the most points at the end of the game emerges victorious.

Objective

Create and expand tile chains based on colour and shape to earn points.

Qwirkle Game Rules

All the tiles are kept in the bag and each player is allowed to draw 6 tiles from it at the start of the game.

The player who can form the longest chain from the tiles they drew from the bag gets to start the game.

Players either create or extend existing chains by playing tiles. All tiles on a chain must have the same attribute, either they are of the same shape or colour. Two tiles that are the same (tiles that have the same shape and colour) cannot be on the same chain.

The maximum length of a chain is 6 tiles.

A player that is unable to play tiles can discard all or some of their tiles and draw new ones from the bag.

When adding multiple tiles to a chain, players are allowed to add tiles to both ends of the chain. A player can add one tile to one end of a chain and add two tiles to the other end of the same chain to complete their turn.

When the bag becomes empty and players can no longer replenish their hand at the end of their turns, the first player to use up all the tiles in their hand ends the game. This player gets an extra 6 points bonus.

Number of Players Needed

2 to 4 players.

Equipment

  • 108 tiles that come in 6 colours and 6 different shapes. 
  • A bag
  • Paper and Pencil to track scores.

Setting Up

Put all the tiles inside the bag and shake it vigorously to mix the tiles. Have each player draw 6 tiles from the bag to create their hand. Players must ensure that the tiles they draw from the bag are not seen by opponents. Players will use these tiles to play the game when it starts. To determine which player gets to start the game, every player must count their tiles and announce the longest chain they can form (the highest number of tiles they have that are either of the same colour or shape). Note that duplicate tiles (two tiles that are of the same shape and colour) will count as one as a chain cannot have two tiles that are the same. The player who can form the longest chain gets to take their turn first. If there is a tie, the older player gets to go first.

How to Play Qwirkle

The game begins with the player who can form the longest chain from their hand (has the highest number of tiles with the same shape or colour) taking their turn. That player forms the initial chain by arranging those tiles in a row or column. The player receives a score that is equal to the number of tiles they played and their turn ends. Play continues clockwise.

In Qwirkle, a player taking their turn has three play options open to them but can only take one per turn. The player can;

  1. Add a tile that matches a tile chain in either colour or shape and draw a replacement tile from the bag to bring their tiles back to 6. 
  2. Add two or more tiles to the same tile chain and draw new tiles to bring their tiles back to 6.
  3. Discard some or all of their tiles if they are unable to add tiles. The player will set aside the tiles they no longer want and draw the same number of tiles from the bag as a replacement.

How to Add Tiles

When adding tiles to tile chains, there are rules players must stick to. Only tiles that have similar attribute either the same shape or colour can be on the same chain. Multiple tiles can be added by a player in the same turn but all the tiles must be added to the same chain. Note that two tiles that are the same (tiles that have the same shape and colour) cannot be on the same chain.

Tiles of different shapes can be played together so far they are of the same colour. Similarly, tiles of different colours can be played together if they have the same shape. For a player adding multiple tiles to a chain, the tiles do not necessarily have to touch each other. The implication of this is that players are allowed to add tiles to both ends of a chain in the same turn. A player can add one tile to one end of a chain and add two tiles to the other end of the same chain to complete their turn. 

Players receive points at the end of every turn. Once a player concludes their turn, their point is calculated and recorded. Points are awarded for creating or extending a tile chain. When a chain is created or extended, the player receives a point for every tile in the chain including tiles that were already in the chain in the case of an extension of a chain. This means that if a player adds a tile to a chain, they receive points for every tile on the chain even though they only added one tile. Tiles that are part of two different chains will earn a player 2 points each instead of 1 point. A player who discards tiles on their turn gets 0 points.

The maximum length of a tile chain is 6 tiles. This means that no chain can have more than 6 tiles. Once a chain has reached the limit, it cannot be extended again. A complete chain of 6 tiles is known as Qwirkle. The player who completes the chain gets an extra 6 points bonus added to the points they get from scoring the chain normally.

Players continue to either add tiles or discard tiles on each turn until eventually the bag containing the tiles becomes empty and players can no longer replenish their hand at the end of their turns. When this happens, play continues normally until one player uses up all their tiles. This player gets a bonus 6 points and the game ends.

Winning the Game

At the end of the game, the total score for each player is calculated and the player with the most points wins the game.

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