SNAP Review – Quirky Circuits
Beep Boop! Quirky Circuits is a hidden-programming game by Nikki Valens. In this Plaid Hat Games production, 2-4 players ages 8+ cooperate to give a robot directions.
We’ll tell you all about it in 7 minutes. Listen in or read on below.
Open up the book and choose a scenario. Each scenario uses one of the four robots, each with its own deck of cards specifying how it moves and does special actions. (We recommend starting with Gizmo the kitty-roomba, the first scenarios in the book. Its goal is to clean up dust bunnies.)
Set up according to the scenario book – the spiral bound book sits flat, so you can easily read the setup/goals/special requirements on one page while using the scenario-specific gameboard on the opposite page.
How to Play
Every round, players will play cards from their hand face-down to an action row, one at a time. Once a card is down, it cannot be moved. As in The Mind, players are not allowed to communicate in any way, but must guess at what their fellows are thinking.
Unlike The Mind or Colt Express, the cards give some clues here. As players put out cards face-down, the card backs reveal whether each card is a movement, turn, or special ability.
Once players have cooperated to put out five (or more) cards, with at least one from each player, it’s time to resolve the card actions.
Turn the cards over one by one and resolve each action. Sometimes you’ll realize you’ve made a horrible mistake as your robot interacts with the environment in unexpected (and sometimes hilarious) ways!
After resolving all the cards, move the “battery” indicator down by one. Shuffle and re-deal cards to all players (they keep their unplayed cards from the last round), and you’re ready to try again.
Try to meet the scenario goal before the battery runs down to zero!
There are four robot characters, each with its own type of goal and idiosyncrasies.
Gizmo the kitty-vacuum cleans up dust bunnies, while trying to avoid breakables (if you bump them, you must clean them up) and barriers (which will force it to turn).
Twirl the gardner-bee delivers seeds and fruit around the garden.
Rover the dog-bot digs up fossils and delivers them to their display(s) in the museum.
Lefty is a robotic sushi chef, with the most challenging scenarios. Pick up, chop, and spin to deliver sushi to the demanding cats of Robotopia.
Not enough for your robot experts? The last four scenarios in the book include animal tokens that will move around and mess up your robot’s plans!
Quirky Circuits combines programming and multi-player cooperative play in a way we’ve never seen before. Players try to cooperate to get the robots to do the right thing; but what one player thinks is “right” might not match what another player intends. Of course, you’re also bound by the cards in your hand. And deceptive card backs add to the confusion (Gizmo’s “move” cards include forward 1, forward 2, sideways, and backward).
It can feel like a bunch of kids all grabbing for a remote control, as your robot ends up in a wildly different place than you had planned. The requirement that every player must play at least one card keeps everyone engaged in the round; even if their cards are terrible.
Like any good cooperative game, there’s a definite sense of accomplishment as you progress – not just when you win a level, but any time you accomplish a goal along the way.
The four robots and twenty-four scenarios ensure there’s plenty to explore. This is not a game to play a handful of times and move on; instead you can work your way through progressively more challenging levels – or do like our kids and skip to the robot you like the most.
(The kids’ favorite robot is Lefty. He’s really cool but really hard.)
Each of the robot figures is detailed and cute; we wanted to pick them up and play with them immediately. Other than Gizmo, they all have functional pincers or mouths to hold the tokens as they transport them around the board.
The box recommends an age range of 8+ and that’s about right. Pre-reading children can successfully play, but they’ll do best with a grown-up to help with setup and understanding a scenario’s goal. (And you may have trouble getting them to leave the robot on the board instead of picking it up to play with it!)
Quirky Circuits is easier and most “winnable” at 2 players – you can really get in tune with each other and use meaningful looks to communicate what card to play and when. But the game becomes wacky fun at 4 players, with robots careening almost out of control. With 4 players, actually achieving goals feels like a fluke, but it’s still rewarding.
Helpful Lessons Learned
We found Quirky Circuits useful to get our kids thinking about action programming and a little bit of what that looks like in the real world. As trained software engineers, we want them to understand that robots and computers do exactly what you tell them, and if you make a mistake, they’ll do that too – small errors are quickly magnified once other commands are resolved!
Quirky Circuits is a fantastic improvement on our kids’ first experience with action programming, Robot Turtles.
It’s a quick play at about 10-15 minutes for the easier scenarios. Pick it up for around $35 on Amazon or ask for it at your local game store.
We rate Quirky Circuits 4.5 robots out of 5.
The Family Gamers received a copy of Quirky Circuits from Plaid Hat Games for this review.
This post contains affiliate links, which do not change your price, but help support The Family Gamers.
SNAP review music is Avalanche, provided courtesy of You Bred Raptors?
Number of Players: 2-4
Age Range: 8+ (younger can sometimes play with help)
Playtime: 15-30 minutes