‘Quelf’ board game review
By Ed Appleby, Senior Columnist
Is it possible to be too creative?
Quelf (2005) is a party game for three to eight players designed by Robb Earnest, Jeremy Fifer, and Matthew Rivaldi, and published by Wiggity Bang Games. In the game, players roll dice and move along a board. Each space has a task that needs to be accomplished or the player receives a penalty. These tasks can include “showbiz,” “stuntz,” “quizzel,” or “scatterbrainz.” There are also “rulez” cards that change how the players can play the game. The first player to reach the end and win the end “scatterbrainz” card wins.
The gameplay of Quelf is very active, with many of the cards requiring players to get up and move. The trivia questions range from difficult to insanely simple, which nips the issues I normally have with trivia games in the bud. The “scatterbrainz” cards are by far the most fun, forcing players to list off words associated with a theme as fast as possible without repeating any.
However, where the game really suffers is the “creativity.” Shifting rules can be fun—as in the case of a game like Fluxx (1997)—but Quelf takes it to the extreme, implementing rules that break the game, or can lead to awkward situations among the players, and yet never actually change how the game is played. Every card may or may not be read aloud, and may or may not have secret rules, which either leads to the players messing up or carefully reading the rules in a long process that slows down the game.
I would argue that Quelf’s “creativity” isn’t actually that creative, but more “wacky,” if anything. There’s more to being creative than adding a “z” to the end of all of your cards and getting someone to do another’s hair during the game. Creativity in board games should involve tactics and strategy, and getting players to think on their feet. It should be about how you play the game, not how you are forced to play the game.
There are definitely certain groups that may find this game fun, such as intimate groups of expressive people who are game for anything. However, as an icebreaker game, or a game to pull out among acquaintances at a social event, I would give Quelf a pass.