Review: Quip Qubes
Publisher: Selchow & Righter
Year: 1981
Tagline: Cross Sentence Board Game

Quip Qubes cover

how we met

I found Quip Qubes at a particularly memorable thrift store visit. For one thing, our entire game group was on this trip, which is very unusual. Then there were two young boys at the store wearing matching gymnastics outfits and with matching cookie pillows in their shopping baskets, which was amazing. And we found a penny, which is a bit of an inside joke.

Generally when there are games where we have some creative freedom, our group enjoys them even if it’s just a one-time play. It gives us the freedom to bring our own humor into the game. Quip Qubes is basically Scrabble but with words instead of letters, so I thought I’d give it a try.

how it plays

Quip Qubes is a 2 player (or 2 team) game. Each player receives the same number of dice representing the same words, likely to even the playing field. The first player rolls all 27 of their word cubes. Two of these cubes are stars indicating they can be any word you like. Players then create a sentence using the words at their disposal, making sure to use the star space in the middle of the game board (like Scrabble).

Cup filled with word dice

Each player gets a cup to shake and roll their dice

Scoring is done based on how many words you end up using, by squaring the number of words used. Yes. So if you use four words you get 16 points, five words is 25 points, six words is 36 points and so on. The max is 15 words for 225 points. Additionally some of the spaces on the board have numbers on them that are just added onto this score.

Punctuation is implied, so let your freak flag fly and make the longest, most beautiful sentence you can.

how it went

Bill and I played this together and immediately noticed the biggest criticism of this game, which is that all you have to do is make a sentence 15 words long to max out your score at 225 (plus any extra points on the board). It’s a broken game.

Bill went first and made a 285 point sentence that read:
I began with none of what last had been real money as if that mattered

The problem is, by going first Bill is required to use that star in the middle, so he really only has two options of horizontal or vertical and they are the same, points-wise.

By going second I had many, many more options and could also make a 15-word sentence, but I could place it for maximum points. This netted me 295 points, even though it’s kind of terrible:
A man who was too cute that with their back told them I want that

27 word cube dice showing words in play

My word choices in first roll

Bill then had a lot more options and ended up scoring 150 on his second sentence.

Then I was absolutely committed to using all of my remaining words in a sentence to score very high. I think if you go first, you probably can’t win. You just simply aren’t set up with enough options to beat your opponent. The even playing field gives you the same word possibilities and the same number of words, but Player 1 has less options to maximize points.

The board showing all cubes in place, slightly misplaced

Our game just after Bill pretended to flip it

play or pass

Pass. There is talk of house rules to make the game better, and you could come up with a few of them quite easily to improve gameplay. But I don’t think it would save the game. The best thing I can think of is different blackout boards that limit the playable game board, and expands the board as you go through turns. Kind of like Inner Circle. You would place all the blackout boards right over the game board and it would limit which spaces are available for play. Then that play area would expand – a little – by lifting the top blackout board and revealing the next one for the next turn. That would prevent the 15 word sentences as well as force creativity in a more realistic sentence structure.

Oh gosh I kind of want to try that. Bill is going to kill me.