We reviewed Qwarks on Board's Eye View just last week. Also from designer Grégory Détrez and illustrator Henri Kermarrec, Qwarks Wanted is a similar but different game. Though it is unashamedly a continuation of the Qwarks theme, Qwarks Wanted is not an expansion of the earlier title but an entirely standalone game.
Just as in the earlier game, the Qwark cards portray anthropomorphised amoeba-like elementary particles. There are three Qwarks on each card and they will be in three different colours, have different numbers of eyes and tentacles, and will either be smiling or pouting. Gone are the numerical values on the cards. Instead, each round, a series of four criterion cards is set out, along with a card that shows a 'forbidden' criteria. Players will score a point for every criterion met on the card they choose but any card that contains the forbidden criteria will score nothing.
Like Qwarks, Qwarks Wanted is a speed memory game. Each player (2–6) lays out two Qwark cards but players will want to evaluate all the cards and not just the ones they lay out. In the main they are checking individual Qwarks (for example, over the number of eyes); another difference from the earlier game. There are likely to be cards with zero value, either because none of the four positive criteria are met or (more likely) because the card contains the prohibited criteria. Players are racing against each other to slap their hand over and cover the most valuable cards, but then the memory element of the game kicks in: they keep the card covered as they say which criteria their card meets. If you forget a criteria you met, you just don't score for it, but if you wrongly claim a criteria then you get nil points.
Aficionados of the earlier game will recall that each card can be classified as either a 'Prooton' (two Qwarks with tentacles and one without) or a 'Nootron' (two Qwarks without tentacles and one with). The rules for Qwarks Wanted offer that as an additional qualifier for scoring: get it wrong and you will again score zilch for your card.
We were initially surprised to find that each of the Qwark cards has a different design on its reverse side. The reason for this is that the deck can be used to play a different but similar game. In this variant, players are racing to cover a card with a Quark that matches the Qwark showing at the top of one or other of the players' decks. Described in the rules as Qwarks Wanted Junior, this variant is obviously aimed at younger players, but there will be some older players too that find this a slightly less stressful introduction to the speed memory game.
All in all, this is small-box game that packs a lot of play value. The version shown here on Board's Eye View is a pre-production prototype but the finished version from publishers Smile is expected to come in a similar box to the original Qwark game (as opposed to a card tuckbox). Qwarks Wanted works well as both a family and party game and it's due to come to Kickstarter on 23 April. We'll add a link to the campaign when it goes live...