Dale Yu: Review of Quarto


  • Designer: Blaise Muller
  • Publisher: Gigamic
  • Players: 2
  • Age: 8+
  • Played with review copy provided by Hachette USA
  • Amazon affiliate link: https://amzn.to/3BtnFkS


Quarto is one the classic wooden abstract games, first hitting the market in 1991 and gaining acclaim as a recommended game for the 1993 Spiel des Jahres.  Like many great abstract games, it is beguilingly simple – the short description found on the game’s BGG entry pretty much explains the whole game!


Quarto has a 4×4 board and 16 pieces. Each piece has four dichotomous attributes — color, height, shape, and consistency — so each piece is either black or white, tall or short, square or round, and hollow or solid. The object is to place the fourth piece in a row in which all four pieces have at least one attribute in common. The twist is that your opponent gets to choose the piece you place on the board each turn.”


Unlike many 2p games, each player does not have their own color – the color is simply one of the four attributes.  Each turn, the opponent hands the active player any available piece to be placed.  If the active player can make a four-in-a-row of pieces that share a single attribute, they exclaim “Quarto!” and win the game.  If they miss the set, the opponent can call Muggins, well “Quarto!” and win themselves.  


It is quite possible for all the pieces to be placed without a complete set of 4 being made, and in that case, the game is simply a draw.    There are times when you are simply giving them a piece to deny a win condition – but other times you are in the process of setting them up so that they are forced to play a piece to guarantee a win for you.  


The game is lightning fast – most of our games take only 3 or 4 minutes.  When you think about it, that makes sense as there is a maximum of 16 turns in the whole game!  The rules are dead simple, and the beauty of the game is due to the fact that you get to decide which piece your opponent plays.   If the regular rules are too simple for you, there is also a variant that allows for a Quarto to be made out of a 2×2 square of spaces as well.  Beware that this definitely leads to games that end in fewer turns!  (Though not necessarily shorter games on the clock as you will definitely have more things to consider when deciding what piece to give your opponent or where to place the piece that you were given…)

One note of caution is to make sure that you always use your finger to feel both ends of the piece.  All of the bottoms are solid, and only to tops of the hollow pieces have the indentation.  It’s not cool to mistakenly place a hollow piece as a solid piece…  

As the game is so fast, we often play a series of games in a sitting; with the player who wins the most individual games being considered the overall winner.  It’s also great fun with a group as you can play King of the Hill and have the winner of the previous game stay at the board and slide a new family member in as the next challenger.


The all wood production in the current Gigamic release is beautiful, and this is definitely a game that can remain out on the coffee table as both a decoration or conversation starter.  Our copy has stayed out and gotten plenty of use this holiday season.  Quarto is both a game and a piece of art, and I’m glad to have had a chance to rediscover the game this year.


If you want to check it out for yourself: https://amzn.to/3BtnFkS

(this is an Amazon Affiliate link)


Until your next appointment,

The Gaming Doctor


About Dale Yu

Dale Yu is the Editor of the Opinionated Gamers. He can occasionally be found working as a volunteer administrator for BoardGameGeek, and he previously wrote for BoardGame News.
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