How-to: build your own Qwirkle game
Today, I’d like to share pictures and explanations on how to build your own Qwirkle game. This is a game that has won several awards including the Mensa award (hey, I didn’t know they awarded games), Parent’s choice gold award, and German Spiel des Jahres award.
Like many games I make with my children, it was intended for our math awareness homeschooling sessions (and to play during free play of course) because it is a good spacial game, awakens (weirdly shaped) double entry table skills, it is mind challenging and fun. It just feels like a good math awareness game.
How to play: I recommend you look up the rules yourself so that I don’t mess you up, but the basic idea is that the game is a mixture between scrabble and dominoes where players create columns and rows of matching colors and shapes from the 108 blocks.
You can download the pdf with the official rules to the game here : Qwirkle rules
To make your own Qwirkle game, you need:
- black cardboard (I used shiny black cardboard from a used supermarket stand), alternatively you can use regular cardboard and paint it black; alternatively to that: the background of the tiles doesn’t need to be black, if you have white or cream cardboard you could make a pastel colored game.
- colored cardstock or construction paper, 6 different colors (red/pink, purple, blue, green, yellow, orange – or whatever other colors you wish to use, they just need to stand out from each other)
- shapes to trace (I used the children’s mosaic pieces, see pictures below)
- the sturdy protective corners used to wrap and protect the boxes in the corners of pallets to make stands for the tiles, see pictures below
- something to store the game in and draw the tiles from (the tiles should be hidden inside it easily);
- pencil, ruler, scissors, X-acto blade/knife, glue… basic supplies like that
Start off by cutting 108 squares of black cardboard. If you are lucky enough to have a well supplied craft store, maybe you could find good quality cardboard (that will last longer than flimsy cardboard) and if you are extremely lucky, maybe they also have them precut into squares (I doubt it though). The squares should be a little less than 2 inches wide.
After that you need to trace out the shapes you will later on glue on the black cardboard.
There are 6 shapes. The shapes from the original game are different than the ones I made. You can look up pictures of the original game on Internet to see the shapes but they are more complicated to make (remember, you have to make 108 of them!).
I chose to make : square, circle, plus, rectangle, star, triangle.
As I said, I used the children’s mosaic shapes to trace around. I used the mosaic square for the square, rectangle (double square) and plus (I cut out the corners after cutting out the squares). I used the triangle for the triangle and star (I overlapped two triangles). And finally I used a bottle cap for the circle.
You need to cut out 3 sets of 6 shapes out of each color. 3 x 6 shapes x 6 colors = total of 108 tiles.
You don’t have to do the same shapes as I did: you could use the blue diamond from the mosaic game instead of one of the shapes for example. There could be a half circle, a trapeze. If you have a large paper punch with a fun shape you could use that for some of the shapes. You don’t really have to trace the squares, plus or rectangles, I ended up just tracing lines like a checkerboard and cutting that out.
Oh, one piece of advice: don’t aim for perfection or you will take ages! The game will be loved regardless of the fact that some stars are off center!
When you are finished cutting everything out. It is time to glue the shapes to the black cardboard. Just use plain white PVA/Elmer’s glue.
That’s basically all you need to start playing the game. But there are two more things that will make the game a little more practical. Something to hide your tiles from your opponents and something to store the cards in.
To stand the tiles up and hide them from the opponents, I used the sturdy protective corners used to wrap and protect the boxes in the corners of pallets (see picture below). The ones I found were already cut and just a wee bit small to fit the 6 tiles each player has in his game. But it works nonetheless. Just be careful that you cut them wide enough to fit 6 of your tiles.
Lastly, you need something to draw new tiles from and store the game when not in use. If you are equipped for sewing, make a simple drawstring bag with an elastic drawstring closure. I embroidered a couple of shapes on the bag to illustrate which game is inside (I never embroider, this was one of my first goes at it so forgive the sloppyness). If you don’t sew, use any kind of drawstring bag you have around or alternatively any kind of bag like a small tote bag/flour sack. If your bag isn’t big enough for the stands, use an old shoe box to put everything inside. Find something that works for you.