Pros: One of the most imaginative board games in years. Tons of card options
Cons: It's better with MORE people.
An off topic word of advice- If you are expecting a namby pamby little 400 word review then this is probably not the right place for you. I try to be all things to all people especially when it comes to my game reviews. As well as a basic opinion, if you want a little background history on a game, I want you to know you can come here. If you crack open the box and think you are missing pieces, I want you to know you can come here. If you lose your instructions and don't remember how to play, I want you to know... well, you get the general idea. I am a selfish animal and I don't want you to have to go somewhere else because I didn't supply enough information. No matter the reason I want you here.
And if you read any review I write and chuckle along the way or learn a new tidbit of information, if you wind up saying “Hey... I had no idea that Tom Hanks and Abe Lincoln were related” then I will smile and burbble shmooley to myself.
Please kick back and enjoy.
QUELFING IN THE FACE OF ADVERSITY:
A few years back three friends in California worked through a whole lot of pain to try and get a pet project of theirs off the ground.
Jeremy Fifer and Robb Earnest had known each other since childhood. Jeremy was a husband and father of two and Robb was a TV and Film writer who had worked on (among other things) South Park. Together with an old college buddy of Robb's, Matthew Rivaldi, they were in the middle of creating a board game that they thought would make all other board games obsolete.
The big secret? It was funny... really, really, really funny, from start to finish. Every aspect burst with imagination and silly insanity. It was simple to play, the background story was rich, the characters were vibrant and the tasks that needed completion in order to win were both straight forward and yet twisted enough that they would cause pause in even the most competitive game player. It was the game that they had always wanted to play and had never found, the one they were sure would be pulled out at every party and never collect dust.
Then things stopped being funny. Fifer came down with skin cancer that spread to the lymph nodes under his arms.
Rivaldi's fiance, Heidi, contracted breast cancer and ended up in the hospital.
Laughter was in short supply and yet there they were, centering their lives around creating a game that was based solely on laughter.
From her hospital bed, Heidi shared with them what energy she had and encouraged them to Quelf, a term that Fifer had used back in his college days and could mean anything from a short bark of laughter to something that was odd or bizarre.
Somehow, despite Fifer's multiple operations and Heidi's death, the three of them powered through and created one of the most entertaining games to come on the market in the last ten years. It is appropriate for folks from age thirteen to eight and a half billion, has won multiple awards and has out sold all its competition.
THE WORLD OF QUELF AND ITS POPULACE:
The Land Of Quelf Is A Very Funny Place
Where Everyone Wears A Funny, Funny Face
All The Streets Are Paved With Gold
And No One Ever Grows Old
In That Funny Place Called The Land Of Quelf. ♫
For anyone who is mildly confused, Quelf should not be mistaken with a small town in the Southern Ontario, Kitchener/Waterloo area that becomes very popular during Oktoberfest and has a fairly well known University attached to it.
That would be Guelph.
Those of us that live in the area have known for quite some time that while Quelf is something you do, a bodily function that might cause you to have to change your shorts, Guelph is more something you step in.
Oh dear God... I've stepped in Guelph.
Cracking A Big Box Of Quelf, What Goes In To Quelf:
1 Game Board- A winding stone street with a city scape and the game's characters surrounding it.
2 small golfer's pencils and a pad of paper with a cool Quelf cityscape header.
1 Black sand timer (3o seconds)
1 Black Die with white dots
Eight Illustrated Character Pieces all in different sizes. Do you want to tower over everyone or sneak under their legs?
550 Category cards, spread over 5 categories (so...uh...110 cards per)
The game also says it includes a giant invisible harpoon, but I've never seen it. Still... I'm not taking any chances. My guests open the box when we play.
Quelfing At The Rules:
Quelf is one of the more simplistic games that has come down the pipe in the last few years and has very few rules. The main point of it is that you are trying to follow the winding, multi-colored brick road and get out of town. How badly you want to leave is reflected by what you are willing to do.
1) Pick one of the 8 Unique characters supplied. If two players want to be the same character then you will have to figure out some way of resolving this situation. Might I suggest Chocolate Pudding Wrestling?
2) Figure out who goes first (see above and my pudding wrestling idea)
3) Roll the dice and move on down, move on down the road. You will land on a colored square.
4) Choose one of the corresponding Category cards. Read it out loud (unless the card tells you not to) and complete the task you are given. If you are able to, you are safe, if not, you will have to move BACK the number of squares stated in the upper right hand corner of the card. On the bottom of each card you may see an additional rule (to be read after your first task is accomplished) The second task could pertain to you or anyone and everyone else in the game. Read it out loud. For example, let us say you have been tasked to sing The Love Boat theme song with your fingers up your nose. Anyone who has joined in with you may get to move ahead 1 square.
5) The first person across the finish line wins... assuming they can complete the necessary task.
The Cast Of Quelf, What It Takes To Be A Quelfling:
Seriously... what happened to just picking a color icon and rolling the dice? The back story that has been created for the characters is outstanding. It's not a matter of who you want to be but who you don't. I even want to play some of the female characters. Still, I find myself gravitating towards The Bat.
The Dude- Cooler than cool. A Presley-esque icon from a forgotten day of yore, the Dude's life, from his birth till his inevitable death, centers around the open road. He was born on a moving vehicle and his bow legs reflect that he isn't truly comfy unless straddling his hog. Greased back hair, peg leg jeans and black leather jacket make him the guy that every girl wants.
The Biscuit Farmer- It's early to bed and early to rise for this long necked country boy. Hard working and optimistic, the Biscuit Farmer spends his life out in the fields, waiting for his biscuit crop to finally come to harvest. Don't be the one to tell him it will never happen or when his biscuits do finally break the earth's surface you won't get any... and rumor says they'll be delicious
Batbileg Chinzorig- I can't say this character's name with out a heavy eastern European accent. BC is a Bat with delusions of humanity and the oldest creature in the land of Quelf. Hip Hop loving and decked in bling he will be more than happy to tell you about his adventures with Louis the XIV.
Mr. Lugnut- Simple, loving, rippled with muscle and none too bright, the biggest character in the game vaguely makes me think of Schwarzenegger for some reason. It might be the giant Lugnut instead of a head. His suit, slightly disheveled appearance and briefcase clearly show that he has spent his day at work. Where he works, no one knows. What he does, no one knows. From the look on his face he doesn't know either. All that matters is that he helps support his loving wife Mrs. Pickle Feather
The Platypus-Plucky and resourceful the Platypus decided not to let a little thing like the fear of water slow her down or define who she is. She strapped on some flotation devices and tries to make a name for herself in Hollywood. She will innocently tell you her families deepest and most personal secrets with out thinking twice.
Mrs. Pickle Feather- Loving wife to Mr. Lugnut and Donna Reed throwback, it is confusing why Mrs. Pickle Feather chose not to take Mr. Lugnut's name. Perhaps Mrs. Pickle Feather Lugnut wouldn't fit on her Bridge invitations. Despite being a giant Dill Pickle there isn't an ounce of sourness to her.
Super Ninja Monkey- Stealthy and agile, SNM differentiates herself from other ninjas by her pink hair ribbon and Samurai Banana sword... and of course the fact that she's a monkey. When not practicing her secret craft, she spends her time studying The Tao Of The Banana.
Queen Spatula- Don't mess with The Queen or you will get a crack right across the noggin. Don't call her fat... don't call her sassy... don't ask her to sing old Ella Fitzgerald tunes or tell her that she bears a striking resemblance to Queen Latifah... the list of don'ts is endless. Ask her to lead. Follow if she agrees to.
I Have To WHAT? The Category Cards:
This is not a straight forward trivia game. You don't win just because you know the most useless trivia. Likewise, it's not Cranium... you don't get to win just because you can draw a three headed dog backwards with your left hand while your eyes are closed (although you may be asked to).
This game will test how bad you want to win and how good your memory is.
Sure, I might not have problem yelling “Get Off My Land!!!” in a high pitched chipmunk voice when ever someone rolls a three, but will I smell my father-in Laws sock? Will I lick my mother-in-laws toe? Poor Dude... what the heck is she going to do if I choose to?
No matter what the card category, all the cards have a few things in common. In the right hand corner of each is a Penalty Number. This is the amount of spaces you must move back if you can't (or won't) complete what ever the card asks you to do. Each card will tell you if it is a Timed Task (you have 30 seconds to have someone guess what tune you're humming... go) or not, Each card will tell you if the card should be read out loud or privately (Classified Cards are read in silence) and each card has what's called The Quelf Effect at the bottom. Sometimes the Quelf effect is merely a saying from one of the eight characters, but sometimes it's an added task for you or other players.
---Quizzle (Green)- Anyone can know the name of the actor who played The Skipper from Gilligan's Island but can you multiply 111 111 111 by itself in thirty seconds?
---Stuntz (Yellow)- This could be anything from general contortions or tongue twisters to harder feats of physical dexterity. Where you born on a Pirate Ship? Could you tell everyone with out laughing?
---Roolz (Blue)- There could be 3 different roolz. Global Roolz effect all players and anyone could pay the penalty if the rule is broken. Roll a four and everyone yells Whoop! There It Is!. This rule stays in play unless a different card negates it. Talking Roolz are for you alone (you must say everything with a rich Irish accent) and are eliminated if you draw a second one. Action Roolz follow the same guide lines as Talking Roolz. You might get stuck playing the game from the closet until someone rolls a six. If you break a rool and no one calls you on it... congrats. If you get sick of the Roolz and want to get rid of them, return to the beginning of the game.
---Showbiz (Purple)- Write a Haiku about your armpit. Perform Swanee River as Al Jolson on one knee. Perhaps a nice double pirouette?
---Scatterbrainz (Red)- You are given a choice of two topics to discuss and everyone gets to play. It could be Things Not To Serve A Vegetarian like my lard filled pie crust... or deep fried possum or Famous Shoe Makers like Bruno Magli or The Keebler Elves. The first person who repeats an answer or can't think of anything after 10 seconds has to pay the penalty.
This is also the final card drawn when you want to win the game. If you are the one trying to win, then you have to give 2 answers for everyone else's one.
One thing the rules do say is that if you are unable to SAFELY complete the task, or if you don't have the needed tools to complete the task (and can't improvise) then you can chose another card... but be fair. You won't have to break your wife's back, but you may have to substitute shoelaces for string
Come To My House, We'll Eat, We'll Drink, We'll Quelf:
There's very little wrong with this game. Maybe the only thing I can think of is that two people can't play it. I guarantee that your friends will have a great time playing it and if you can get eight people together than you really are in for some serious fun. Once multiple rules take effect all bets are off.
I would love to see what happens with this on an anniversary edition when they decide to change the Icons to statuettes.
TEACHING MY DAUGHTER THE VALUE OF A GOOD QUELF:
Jeremy Fifer, Matthew Rivaldi, Robb Earnest and Illustrator Matt Luxich run Wiggity Bang Games, the company they started to produce and market Quelf. Jeremy is now healthy and very happy. Matthew is married and has a son.
No one has forgotten the importance of a good Quelf or the path that they traveled to get where they are right now, and no part of this game is over-looked.
Would the game still be fun to play with out the unique back story and characters? Yes... but these guys went that one step further.
Matthew's fiance Heidi is remembered and honored for her spirit and merriment. If you look at the game board closely you will see that the sign over the temple doorway reads The Awakened Heart. This was the name of Heidi's hypnotherapy business.
Everyday I witness people who seem to have lost their senses of humor. Everyday I see people try to crush mindless stupidity and fun from the lives of others, people who look down on frivolity and do what they can to end it.
I think to myself, “Is it just me? Is the world changing and I'm so immature that I can't seem to notice it? Is my type of humor absolutely inappropriate?”
Then I trip across something like this game and I realize that the problem does not lie with me or my ilk. I don't have to second guess myself. I have the freedom to not only recognize and appreciate mindless humor for its own sake but I can teach my children the same and they are guaranteed to enjoy a richer and fuller life then the folks that are walking around with a tragic, humorless stick up their butts.
The problem lies with those that take themselves or their lives far too seriously. If you are one of them, and you are still reading this, I strongly urge you to go have some mindless fun. Don't be too concerned with looking stupid. There is nothing about my life that I can't laugh at, so why are you so special?
As a firstie this will be my final review for Breast Cancer awareness month. I am also putting this forward for Laura Anderson's Breast Cancer Awareness Write Off. I've been a bit more prolific than normal in October and the main reason was because I wanted to earn some coin for a good cause. Odds are pretty good I'll now go back to writing 2 reviews a week.