Words With Friends was an iPad game that I would fire up every night for mind-stimulating gaming fun. It’s been given the boot.
There’s a new word-formation game in town that takes up my downtime: Quarrel Deluxe. Denki and UTV Ignition’s turn-based word-formation iPad game incorporates light troop management and army positioning that one would typical find in strategy games. It’s been frequently mentioned as the sweet, sweet love child of Scrabble and Risk—a comparison that is not inaccurate.
Quarrel Deluxe begins with the player selecting an army. There are numerous types available, ranging from cavemen to ninjas. The goal is to march your cute little South Park-like warriors across the playfield to conquer rival armies and snatch land by cobbling together words with large point totals. Conquering all lands makes you the winner. Simple enough, right?
But that’s where things get interesting. If you have, say, four warriors on a plot of land and have eyes on an area where three enemy fighters are positioned, you simply tap your square then the foe’s. You enter the battle mode where you’re tasked with plucking letters from an eight-letter anagram to form words that will hopefully be worth more than your rivals’. Here’s the kicker: the number of letters you can select is directly tied into the number of troops you have in the battle. For example, if you have four warriors and your opponent has three, you have a slight advantage in that you can select an extra letter. That, however, doesn’t mean that sheer numbers win each team. You—as well as the computer controlled A.I.—have to make the most of the presented letters. Should you pick the same word, the plot of land goes to whoever spelled the swiftest. So speed and letter analysis is a must. Note: You can shift your troop members between adjacent areas to help strengthen a land block.
Thankfully, the nine computer-controlled foes are programmed to battle with realistic and mostly fair play styles, so you don’t have to worry about masterful A.I. obliterating you each round—it sometimes flubs words, takes too long to spell words, or makes tactical board positioning error. But these aren’t random programming scripts designed to help you win—the A.I. can also prove itself quite daring in the way that it attacks positions itself. Even when two computer controlled opponent are battling each other, there are still opportunities to strengthen your position; you’re free to decrypt their anagram to fill a treasure meter that lets you drop extra troops onto the board. After a battle concludes, you get the anagram’s definition, which comes from Collins Official Scrabble Dictionary 2nd Edition 2007. Edutainment!
Quarrel Deluxe serves up four play modes—Quick Match, Make Match, Domination, Daily Challenge—leaderboards, achievements, and surprisingly deep record keeping that shows how you fare against computer A.I. characters (I dominated Caprice with a 9-3 record, but struggled against Damien with a 0-2 record).
Quarrel Deluxe is an excellent game, but it’s not without faults. First, the game features the longest tutorial that I’ve ever encountered in a game. Granted, it explores all aspects of Quarrel’s gameplay, but the impatient will exit it and tackle the game on a trial and error basis. The biggest ding of all is that Quarrel Deluxe is a single-player game; this type of title begs for a multiplayer experience.
Wordsmiths, strategists, and gamers with varied tastes will find much to like in this game where brains and brawn meet on equal terms. Quarrel’s multiplayer omission isn’t vital, but disappointing—the game could’ve very easily ranked up there with Mario Party or Saturn Bomberman in terms of multiplayer fun. Still, it’s one of the best iOS games on the platform and one that should be tried.