I found Quelf on clearance at Walmart and decided it was worth buying based on one thing I read on the box. Among the contents listed (game board, game pieces, cards, etc.) is “1 giant invisible harpoon (it’s invisible for a reason, use it wisely).” I decided that any game maker with that kind of sense of humor was bound to have made a fun game.
My guess was confirmed when we started reading the rules. The objective of the game? “To have fun. Duh!” Unfortunately it is made for at least three players, and my husband is not into board games. So Al and I had to wait for Zach to get home from college. (Having played it now, I don’t recall anything that actually required three players, so Al and I may try playing it by ourselves.)
As a number of reviews at amazon.com indicate, it is similar to Cranium, “but edgier.” I haven’t played the game Cranium, but we have some of the other games made by Cranium, Inc. Al and I both enjoy the wackiness of the games, and the variety of mixing stunts, trivia questions, word puzzles, and more. Quelf takes the wackiness even further.
There are “Roolz” cards that require you to do goofy things — or else pay the stated penalty by moving your game piece back a certain number of spaces on the board. Some of them are only for the person who drew the card, others are for everyone. Some are just for one turn, others last until another card of the same type is drawn by the same player, or even for the entire game.
If you don’t like goofy, this is what would probably make Quelf the wrong game for you. I’m not particularly into goofy, but I didn’t mind wearing a paper towel as a bib for the most of the game. And we all got used to saying “izzle” at the end of every sentence (except a few times when someone forgot and had to move back a space). From reading reviews, there are goofier ones we didn’t happen to encounter, but nothing that I would consider inappropriate among friends.
Reviews point out that it is probably best suited to teens and college age people, and I agree. It’s not the kind of game I would bring out for entertainment at a church get-together, where we have a number of older people. Some of them would probably enjoy it just fine, but probably others would not, and some of them might have trouble doing some of the stunts.
One interesting activity is the “Scatterbrainz” cards, which require players to take turns naming items in a specified category. Sometimes the player who draws the card gets a choice of two categories, other times there is no choice. We found that we all had some trouble with “black-and-white” movies, but we came up with an amazing number of things one can do with a newspaper after reading it. (And we didn’t even think of lining a birdcage or wrapping freshly caught fish.)
Unlike the board games I grew up with, the game board plays a relatively unimportant role. It would be impossible to play Chutes and Ladders, Candyland, or Parcheesi without the board, which gives the game its entire structure. But as with a number of other games published in the past decade or two, Quelf uses the board mostly to show who is ahead and to determine when the game ends. The colored spaces also determine which card you draw, but that could as easily be determined by rolling a die with different colors on its sides instead of numbers.
The game path to the center of the board seemed fairly short to me, and I wouldn’t have minded if the game had gone on longer. But then, we did only have three players. Reviews indicate that at least 5 or 6 players is best (up to 8, which is how many game pieces there are). I doubt we’ll have a chance to play with that many people any time soon, but I’ll keep it in mind for when we have the right sort of group together.