Publisher: Gigamic Hachette Board Games UK
Designer: Blaise Muller
Release date: 1991 (re-released 2021)
Favouritefoefunlearning score 7.5/10
*2 Player * Strategic * Simple Rules * Wooden Game * Abstract * Logic * Prediction/Anticipation * Random Set Up * Pattern Building *
Games aren’t just about moves, components, and tactics. They are all those things, of course. But they are also a way of communicating ideas and concepts. And when #learningthroughplay is the goal, a game that can be used to develop language and vocabulary, as well as fun to play, is a favouritefoefunlearninglibrary contender!
Thanks to Hachette Board Games UK, Gigamic’s classic abstract strategy game, Quarto! is now available, and we got the opportunity to give it a Mini-Meeple test drive.
Just like Quixo, Quoridor and the others in the Gigamic Abstract range, Quarto! is set up in seconds. Grab the thick wooden board and stand the lovely chunky pieces next to it. Can’t say quicker than that!
And, once again, the rules can be written on the back of one (longish!) finger; be first to place four pieces that share a common feature in a line on the board.
But, here’s the thinky wrinkle (knuckle?!); you don’t get to choose your next piece – your opponent does!
Looking at the pieces, you’ll see things they have in common:
- Colour; dark/light
- Size; tall/short
- Shape; round/square
- Density; solid/hollow
The pieces belong to no particular player. You can take over any formation developing on the board. And if you are the first to hit that line of four, you have won QUARTO!. You don’t need to shout “QUARTO!” to secure your victory, but it’s more fun when we do!
Peter Picked a Peck of Picked Pieces!
Because you are picking the piece your opponent will play, this game is just as much about ruining the other player’s chances of winning as it is getting to four first.
With your eagle-eyes swivelling around the board, you spot an emerging run. One that you simultaneously want to stop your opponent adding to, but desire for yourself. If they have handed you a gift of a piece (without realising it), you might be able to take advantage. If the shape in your hand has no hope of securing a win, then you might decide to burn the line and stop it in its tracks.
Similarly, when it comes to picking their next piece, you need to be looking at the board from all angles. What piece will prevent them achieving a line of four connected pieces? What can they not use to capitalise upon what is already in play? Thinky indeed!
Needless to say, when playing with ShadowMeepleMedia, I get played very quickly! He manoeuvres me into a corner (no easy thing on a circular playing space!), and I know I am placing pieces that play right into his grand plan! I do my best to scupper his schemes, but he always seems to be able to make winning lemonade out of wooden lemons! Haha
Communicating the Common!
When Mini-meeple and I currently play Quarto, however, we dial down the sabotage and crank up the observation. Talking about what we can see. The shapes, the colours, the sizes. I ask him to describe pieces using the categories. We discuss whether it is different or alike other pieces on the board. Then I ask him to explain why. It feels like a natural extension of his STEM curriculum at school where he is learning about materials and properties. But not in a strictly academic sense. It is just a chat about the bits and bobs of the game we are playing. Sometimes we do this before we even get pieces onto the board. Making it a simple race to grab four pieces that share something. Or making sets of 3 that just need one more to make it a Quarto! Can he find one? Well, he hasn’t been stumped yet!
And when he is selecting a piece for me, we think out loud about what I could do with it (and vice versa!). Giving him the chance to decide if it could help me or harm my chances of winning is a big demand of his immature logic and predicting/anticipating skills. Particularly as he has no idea where I might place it. So QUARTO! provides a brilliant way to let him play out scenarios and see whether the outcomes match what he thought would happen. And once again the publisher, Gigamic, have produced an excellent education support resource to help little gamers learn and use QUARTO! in the home and classroom learning environment.
As his confidence and skills develop over time, the conversation will quieten and be replaced by furrowed brows and internal cogs clicking away. But for now its extra fun for me to see him think out loud. It’s also just another excuse for me to spend a golden 15 minutes with him without a screen in between!
QUARTO! falls squarely into Gigamic’s fast playing, easy to learn, accessible, beautifully made abstract strategy game range. Again, it is not a main event choice. It’s a 10 minute filler that little and big gamers alike can pick up and be playing in seconds. And the learning opportunities are obvious. As an introduction and continuation of purely strategic play. Beware though. You can win….and then lose again without realising it. I have played a few games now where I placed a line of four connected pieces, and then played on until my opponent did the same somewhere else and yelled QUARTO! You can also play games where nobody wins – less satisfying, but a chance to go again!
Being out of control in terms of the pieces you play can feel a little mean, particularly to little gamers. More so than randomly drawing a piece out of a bag would. And that directly calculating side might not appeal to some. But working out what can be done (if anything) to turn a situation around is not just a great game skill, but also a life lesson. Backing out of a corner (even one in a circle!), and reversing fortunes feels even better when you’ve had to do it despite someone’s best efforts to thwart you! And if it doesn’t happen? Well, practising being a good sport should always be high on the agenda, winning or losing. Mini-meeple isn’t a fan of me “messing up his lines”. But I have no doubt that he will enjoy it very much when I am on the receiving end!
Click here to download the Publisher’s learningthroughplay classroom resource sheet or click on the file to download it below:
If you like the sound of Quoridor, check out my 6 part series on the other titles in the Gigamic Abstract Strategy Collection or click here to go to my feature overview of them all!
Please note that a copy of this game was kindly provided by the publisher for the purposes of this review, but any opinions expressed are my own.