Playing time: 20 minutes
Cost: £15-20 (ish)
Qwirkle was previously my go-to game for picnics. The big colourful pieces are hard to lose, and the simple rules make it perfect for teaching to new players, even after a couple of pints down the pub*.
There are 108 tiles – six different colours, six different shapes, three of each combination. Players score points by placing tiles in lines of either shape or colour. For example, you could have all the circles in red, blue, purple, yellow, orange and green, or you could have purple circle, square, diamond, clover, cross and star. (Other interpretations of these shapes are available…part of the game is arguing about what to call the tiles.) As no piece may be repeated in a line, but all lines need to be connected, the result is a slowly growing grid. It’s easier to play than to explain.
Qwirkle is a quick, fun game. It does work best at a fast pace and you genuinely don’t need to think for very long about where to place your tile. However, it’s not the best choice if you’re going to be constantly interrupted, as someone else can’t easily take your turn and missing it puts you at a disadvantage. Watching other players make their moves helps, which is hard if you have a baby who needs attention. It can also be difficult to see the difference between purple and blue under normal electric light, or between orange and red in bright sunlight.
So, if you have a sleeping child and need something quick and entertaining for half an hour, this is your game. It doesn’t need much thinking, but the small amount of brain power it does require needs to be sustained. And if you do keep getting interrupted then you can always use the pieces to build towers for the baby to knock down.
It’s also worth considering that when your baby gets a little older then this is a perfect game for playing with them. A toddler can easily use the pieces to play remembering games, and with a little imagination you can think of all sorts of ways to teach them colours and shapes.
Summary: easy, quick and colourful – what’s not to love? (As long as someone remembers to keep score.)
* Number 394 on the list of Things I Miss Now We Have A Baby.