How To Play Quinto – A Board Game Of Fives

Quinto board game thumbnail

Both sides of my family have been board gamers since before I can remember, which meant I got exposed to all sorts of different games during vacations, holidays, and other family gatherings. Among my favorite board games was one my aunt and uncle showed me during one of my cross-country visits as a kid – Quinto.

Commonly referred to as “Scrabble, but with numbers”, I’d argue that Quinto provides an easier entry point into this style of grid and tile based gameplay. Rather than requiring a robust vocabulary, you simply need to know how to multiply by 5 and have a keen eye for detail to do well.

Best of all, despite being released in 1964, it still holds up over 60 years later as a fun, engaging game of strategy with a lot of replay value. If you don’t believe me, check out how hard we start thinking in the below gameplay video!

Quinto Rules – Learn To Play From The Box Lid!

Player Count: 2-4
Estimated Play Time: 30-60 minutes
Quinto Rules PDF

No big fancy rulebooks for Quinto – everything you need to know is in the picture below!

Click or tap to open a full-sized version of this Quinto rules image.

So to summarize:


Each player is going to receive a red tile before gameplay begins, numbered between 5 and 9. Whoever gets the number closest to 5 starts.

The red 5 tile is placed in the center of the board, and all players draw 5 of the regular tiles from the box, bag, face down pile, etc., keeping their tiles secret from the other players.


The first player plays between 1-5 of their tiles on the board, but at least 1 of these tiles must be directly adjacent (no diagonals!) to any tile on the board (in this case, the red 5). The numbers on any row of tiles played or touching another row must total a multiple of 5 (5, 10, 15, etc.).

They then add up the total numbers on the tiles they played, as well as the numbers for any rows they added onto. Those totals are added to their score, they draw back up to 5 tiles, and play passes to the next player.

Play proceeds until all playable tiles have been used, and the person with the highest score is the winner.

Sounds easy, right? Well, there’s a catch. In addition to each row (new or being added on to) requiring a multiple of 5 to be considered a legal play, no row of tiles (vertically or horizontally) may exceed 5 consecutive tiles.

This is what makes Quinto so tricky to navigate at times, as it’s easy for tiles to become clustered in certain sections of the board. which can limit the available places you can put your tiles very quickly.

Quinto board game start
How the Quinto stream started…
Quinto board game finish
That game and conversation took a turn…

Quinto Strategies To Multiply Your Score

So now that we’ve covered the rules, we’re going to cover a few tips, observations, and strategies to help you win a game of Quinto. While the rules are simple, there is surprising strategic depth that unfolds as a board develops.

The best ways to navigate the board aren’t always the same from game to game either, so while this advice will be useful in many scenarios, you may still spend some time learning where each of the things I’ve learned over the years is most helpful.

Play As Many Tiles As You Can Each Turn

Since each tile’s numeric value contributes to your score, getting more of them into play than your opponents will help you get more points than them. Basic math at its finest.

Affect As Many Rows As You Can Each Turn

While interacting with multiple rows in play is often easier said than done, successful execution will multiply the number of points you’re able to collect during your turns. Let’s go back to the 8 example turns on the box for a moment to demonstrate.

Quinto board game gameplay

While the first player scored 35 points, they had to play 4 tiles higher than 6 to do it. The plays made during turns 3, 4, 7, and 8 are all much more impressive, scoring more points with either fewer tiles, lower numbers, or both! That triple play in turn 8 also leads us to another important piece of gameplay advice…

Save Your 0s And 5s For Big Plays

Zeros and Fives are the most powerful numbers in Quinto, as they can be played as a part of any existing row without requiring extra effort to ensure the row ends in a multiple of 5. That triple play in turn 8 was a little expensive, requiring one of each, but it’s hard to argue with the value that came of it.

The play in Turn 6, where a 0 was just stuck onto the end of a row for 20 points, is an example of how not to use a 0 or 5. There was no possibility of a strong double or triple play there based on how the tiles are laid out, so it wasn’t blocking a stronger move. It also used a single tile, minimizing that player’s impact on their score and their chance to get more tiles.

If you’re desperate and have literally no other moves to make, you’ve gotta do what you’ve gotta do, but I’ve never been in a situation where things were that dire that early in the game.

Be Careful When Creating New Strings Of Numbers Off On Their Own

Despite being unavoidable during many parts of gameplay, especially early on, doing this too often will simply set your opponents up for bigger plays right after you. Take a look at turn 5 above for a moment. They scored 20 points getting a 7, 9, and 2 on the board.

While the next move squandered the opportunities this created, turns 7 and 8 scored far more points than turn 5 by connecting turn 5’s row with another row or two. In a 4 player game, this means two of their opponents raced ahead of them in terms of points.

A savvy opponent also could have put an 8, 6, and 8 above the 7, 9, and 2. 7+8=15, 9+6=15, and 8+2=10, which could have been an alternate way to score 40 points, or possibly more if the remaining two tiles in their hand totaled a multiple of 5. Or they could have used the 9+6 and 8+2 with 3 other tiles to the right to achieve a similar effect.

See what I mean about strategic depth? So many opportunities, so few tiles to abuse them…

Quinto finished game
As you can see, the Meeples were quick to learn this lesson during the second game – look at all that unused real estate on the board!

Going First Is Often A Disadvantage

While going first does give you the best chance of playing a few more tiles than your opponents, there’s no getting around the fact that it is simply a setup play to get the game going, and the other players are always going to have a chance to outdo your first move with relatively little effort.

This doesn’t mean the first player is out of the game by a long shot, but we’ve found it does reduce the margin for error a little bit if your table is as cutthroat as the Meeples’ table is. If first and second place play optimally all game, we’ve also seen that one of them being first player can decide who wins.

This definitely isn’t always the case, but it’s worth noting the impact, even if there’s nothing you can do about it when the choice is randomized.

Take Your Time To Consider All Your Moves

I’m not saying to take 5 minutes every turn here, but there’s almost always more than one way to score a lot of points once a Quinto game is in full swing. In short, the first good move you spot may not be the best move for you.

Taking that extra pass to look over the board might show a better play you overlooked with your existing hand, or an opportunity you should block before an opponent can fully take advantage of it. Well worth an extra 30 seconds in my opinion.

Quinto Variations

You might have noticed a couple different variations for how to play Quinto toward the end of the rules, so let’s touch on those real quick. Just a heads-up, they’re pretty similar to each other, as well as the base rules.

Quinto Small Fry Variation

After choosing who goes first, take a 2, 3, and 4 tile from the tile bag, place them face down on the table, then draw one at random. It is placed at the center of the board instead of one of the red tiles. This number becomes the new multiple each row’s total must follow instead of 5 (though rows may still have up to 5 tiles).

This variant is meant to be easier than the base game, as there will be more numeric options available for these lower multipliers.

Quinto Plus

The harder variant of Quinto, after choosing who goes first, you randomly select a red tile between 6 and 9 to place in the center of the board. This is the new multiplier instead of 5 for row totals (though you may still have no more than 5 tiles in a row).

Is The Quinto Game A Good Addition To Your Collection?

Quinto is a board game I would recommend for groups that like the “easy to learn, difficult to master” style of board game. There’s solid replay value, it doesn’t take a ton of brainpower, but still feels satisfying from start to finish.

I’d also highly recommend Quinto for families with children who like playing board games. For those who are learning their multiplication tables, this provides a great way to not only practice, but demonstrate practical application for those who are looking for a reason to learn some boring math homework.

I mean, who doesn’t like getting better at and winning board games, am I right?

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