Review

Tufas.

Mean anything to you? No, me neither. How about ‘smouse’? Yep, I got lost there too. The reason I’m throwing these random words at you is that they were thrown at me as WINNING words by my opponents in the iOS game Quarrel. I mean really… smouse!

Let’s go back a while, though, what is Quarrel? Quarrel is a strategic word game where you take on up to three AI players with various ‘word IQ’ levels in a bid to capture land for your chosen tribe. The game follows the Risk model of combat with troop number representing an advantage but not necessarily guaranteeing a victory. The wordy bit comes in when combat commences.

Let’s say, for the sake of argument, that you have six troops in your zone and your enemy has five and you choose to attack. Eight letters appear from which you much make the highest scoring word you can. Letters have values assigned to them and, if your word is a good’un, your score should be higher than your opponent’s. If you win, you blitz your opponent’s troops off the map and take over their zone. If you lose, your troops are reduced to one and you’re immediately on the back foot. You may not even use all of your troops—they get to hold a letter each—so any advantage is lost immediately. If you both come up with the same word, the time taken to choose your word is taken into account and whoever was quickest wins. (Typically that means the machine, in my experience.)

So in terms of gameplay, it’s a pretty straightforward affair. If you fancy a quick, easy game pick Dwayne as your opponent in a one-on-one match. With his Word IQ of 100, Dwayne is the… well… simplest challenge. If you really want to understand what pain is about then choose to duel Kali with her Word IQ of 195 and select a timed match!

There’s fun to be had in here; quite a lot actually, and I’m surprised that I keep switching the iPad back on (this is an iPhone / iPod touch / iPad title) and having another quick go. There are achievements to gather and, if youre that way inclined, you can share your victories with the world via the integrated Twitter and Facebook links. But there will come a point where you say “What the FUUUU?!”and that usually arrives when you’re beaten with a word like “smouse”.

Now then, “tufas” I can just about live with; tufa is a type of rock, so tufas are many pieces of this type of rock, but ‘smouse’ really took the crunchy dunkable! I’ve still not been able to find a proper definition for this word! I switched off at that point and my friends Dan (not our, Ready Up Dan, another one) and Sarah both said on separate occasions “Is that really a word?”. Quarrel boasts a dictionary of 10,000 words and I’m sure that a lot of research went into selecting them, but I’ve a feeling that the odd questionable one made if through the QA process and frankly it’s those moments which took the edge off the game for me.

The other thing which I think is lacking is a simple pass-the-iPad multiplayer game. Yes, I know that this wouldn’t work with the timed answers to break a tie mechanic in the game, but in multiplayer this could simply be a drawn hand and replayed.

Summary

Quarrel is a fun take on the conquer and capture game type but a couple of things detract from it's overall fun. Odd, if not totally bogus, words being used by the AI and the lack of a 'pass-it-around-the-table' multiplayer option. It'll stay on the iPad and I'll give it a crack every now and again, but I'm not rabid over it.
7/10

I may not win this game. Kali clearly knows many, many words!

This one I will win, though! Dwayne doesn't know what 'Tufas' are!