A second season of Board @ PAX is upon us? I can hear the people clamoring for it already. And this year, we’ll try to break our record of 2 games reviewed before someone becomes bored of Board @ PAX. But I wouldn’t hold my breath.
With PAX South 2020 behind us, it’s time to start looking at the board games that we hated to love and loved to hate. And with that, I give you the first entry into this season’s series with Quirky Circuits.
Quirky Circuits is cooperative, programming game from Plaid Hat Games that uses hidden actions to create chaotic situations during gameplay. While it can easily be played from 2-4 players, I believe the most enjoyment will be found playing it at 4 if you’re playing with a table full of adults. For a game including children, you’re probably OK playing with fewer to allow for less confusion.
Before I get into the meat and potatoes of the game, let’s talk about the components. The chits seem like sturdy punchouts of decent quality, and the game is played out of a book which I would worry could get ruined if playing with younger children who would definitely get a lot from playing this game. But the quality standpoint is definitely saved with the actual robots that you get with the game. Moving them around the “board” (book page) is satisfying and the quality on the robots is worth the other pieces being of average quality.
OK, so now that we got that out of the way, let’s talk about the gameplay itself. The setup is super simple. A book gives you instructions on one page for how to set up the game and any extra setup for the current scenario. After that, each player is dealt 4 cards and the game begins. So, setup and learning this game is a breeze.
Each turn, the group of players must play a combined total of 5 cards facedown to the center of the table. In addition, every player must play at least 1 card from their hand, and if any advanced cards exist in the game, they must be played before the normal cards. Each card tells everyone what type of action it was (a turn card, a movement card, and so on) without revealing which directions something happens or how fast the movement is. There are also some advanced cards that are occasionally used that give no indication what the card does (only an interrobang on the back) that can cause more issues figuring out where the robot is.
Now as I said before, PAX is filled with games that we love to hate and hate to love, and this game sits firmly in the hate to love category. I wanted to dislike it due to its cutesy artwork, simplistic gameplay, and childish feel, but it really grabbed my attention. It played through in about 20 minutes on a first playthrough, the situations created kept me laughing throughout, and it had enough moments throughout that really made me feel like I played something special (like watching someone hit a wall and spin the wrong way accidentally and a lucky backwards card being played as the final card that back the robot into the fluff ball on the ground). Additionally, the game can easily be played with younger children by allowing them to play the programming cards face-up so they can see what’s coming and try to figure out their moves.
I give this game a solid 2 out of 5 snoozes. It isn’t the best game that you’ll play this year, but it might be one of the most fun experiences you have playing a game. And I doubt you’ll ever really have time to actually become bored.