Growing up, I loved playing time-intensive board games. Monopoly? I’m down. Clue? You know it. Risk? At the drop of a hat. I also loved playing word games. Boggle? Oh yeah. Upwords? Of course. Scrabble? I’m a Scrabble fiend… Half a year ago, Quarrel, a beautiful combination of Risk and Scrabble, was released on iOS, and I was instantly enamoured. Now, the original XBLA concept behind the iOS release has, if a little late, fulfilled its destiny and made its way to my Xbox 360.
Like Risk, Quarrel pits players against each other with the sole goal of total map domination. Up to four players can battle online, with each player getting an even split of the map and an even number of soldiers. Play order is randomly generated, and the battles begin. Like Risk, strategy is involved when choosing who to attack and which territory to attack from. Emerging victorious from an attack will move all but one of your soldiers to the new square, while retreating from an attack defeated will destroy all but one of your soldiers. Either way, strategy is important when leaving your territories undermanned.
Why is the number of soldiers important? Quarrel is a game of anagrams. You are presented with 8 letters, and combat is determined by the total word score of the word you are able to create from those letters, with each letter having a different point value. You are limited in the number of letters you can use to build a word, however, by the number of soldiers you have in your active territory. You may have 8 letters available, but with 4 soldiers, you can only use up to 4 of them.
Quarrel has a wide variety of local single player modes. Domination is a straight gauntlet of all 12 islands, with victory being the conquering of them all. Showdown places you in nine successive head to head matches. Quick Match throws you into a quick single match against an AI opponent, with difficulty based on your Word IQ (a factor determined by your historical skill in Quarrel). Make Match allows you to build a custom 2-4 AI player match, choosing casual or clocked, your opponent(s), and your location. Challenges provide 12 challenges with very specific, and difficult, victory conditions. The difficulty curve is tough, but fair. Online multiplayer is more basic, with ranked or player matches following the standard setup of a Quarrel match for 2-4 players.
For 400 MSP, Quarrel gives you one of the best values on XBLA today. In spite of its suspicious list of acceptable words, it is a very polished, very entertaining, and very replayable competitive anagram experience. The inclusion of online multiplayer alongside the single person local really makes this the current definitive version of the game, and a game you can play by yourself or with friends.
Criminally low price