Lately, the game industry has regularly been taking the peanut-butter-cup approach to game design. Take one game, combine it with another game. It’s simple, but it works.
Quarrel, a game that’s been floating around for a bit now but finally nearing a release on iOS (with console download to come), takes a standard Risk formula and adds in some Scrabble.
Instead of rolling dice based on your number of armies, you each get eight letter tiles of various values. (From what we can tell, the value is exactly the same as Scrabble, but there could be some variation.) You can have as many as eight armies in any area, and each player can make a word of up to that many letters out of the eight tiles. (There’s always an eight-letter word you can make.) The highest value wins.
It’s a simple replacement for standard dice-rolling, and it still relies heavily on luck, but the simple switch makes for an active game that stretches your vocabulary. It even fixes the problem of downtime when it’s not your turn. In every battle you’re not a party in, you can try to create an eight-letter word before the players are done and gain a bonus army for your turn.
We don’t know if Quarrel will hold up at high-level play; will people not always get the maximum points they can? Most of the time there are only two or three letters worth more than one point. If anyone can pull it off, though, it’s Denki; we’ve been fond of the developer’s bright simplicity since 2001. They’ve gone through some tough times getting this game out, so we’ll see soon if they’ve still got it.