This appeared for an issue of Incredibly Strange Games prepared for an August 26, 2017 live event at Seattle’s The Fuse Box.
The ceiling above the arcade was tuned to the color of a carpet on the receiving end of a chainsmoker’s orgy.
I had not yet completed my chrysalis into an Ultima nerd in 1992, so like the rest of 1992 I was in thrall of the mighty Street Fighter II’. While the heshers argued loudly over whether using Ken’s light kicks was “cheap,” I shambled my proto-Britannian larval self over to another machine emblazoned with the Capcom logo, put in a quarter, and lost my mind.
Quiz and Dragons is a game so incredibly strange that for years I didn’t believe it actually existed. It was a fever dream. A mirage. Solipsism that bridged the gap ‘twixt men in gis and men with ankhs.
It wasn’t the first of its kind, but its blend of role-playing, board game, and fer-chrissakes-a-mummy-is-threatening-to-kill-me-if-I-don’t-say-who-won-the-Oscar-in-1984 insanity set it apart from its peers. Quiz and Dragons is all of these things and more.
The play’s the thing, and Q&D is here to play. You–and a friend!–select one of four character classes, each with their own ability. The Fighter is as boring as you’d expect and occasionally regains health. The Ninja will sometimes do double damage. If you’re still awake, let me tell you why the other two are interesting. You see, you’re not just fighting with bullshit garbage swords and halberds or whatever. You’re fighting a game of WITS. Your opponents will ask you trivia questions: get enough answers right, and you will vanquish your foe. Get a question wrong? Well that Black Dragon asking who played Tony Baggadonuts in 1932’s “Insalata Flagrante” just charred you to the bone.
Back to the character classes that matter: The Wizard can select the topic. Don’t like sports? Bring a Wizard. Want to answer questions about hamsters? Bring a Wizard. The Valkyrie is even better: she can whittle down the number of answers so instead of 4, you might have only to pick from 3. Or 2! Holy shit.
You wander around a board, and when you hit a branch you get to select your path. Even entire maps differ based on the paths you take. I always go to “the Flatfields” because it reminds me of that Bauhaus song.
Speed Racer’s dad runs an inn and will heal you. If you win, you will be memorialized as the name of a popular canned soup. It rules. STRANGE!