Monday, August 7, 2017

Quartz (Passport Game Studios)

Working in the mines is hard work, something best suited for a dwarf. They are brave, sturdy, and have a keen eye for treasure. However, with that keen eye comes greed! You and your fellow dwarves have recently discovered a new mine, which is sure to contain treasures untold. Therefore, y'all decide to make a "friendly" wager. You will each explore the mine for five days. As each day ends, you will sell any crystals you uncover. Whoever earned the most money over five days claims the mine for himself. This is QuartzQuartz is a game for 3-5 people, ages 14+. It takes approximately one hour to play and retails for $30.
Setup
1. Place the main board in the center of the table, placing the day marker on Day One.
2. Place coins and experience tokens near the main board.
3. Put all the crystals in the cloth bag, giving the bag a thorough shuffle. This represents the mine.
4. Give each player a mine cart and chest card. Both are placed face up with the mine cart showing crystal value.
5. Shuffle the mining cards and deal five to each player. These may be viewed at any time, but are kept secret from others. The remaining cards are placed near the main board to form the mining deck.
6. The player with the longest beard is starting player. If you are all unfortunate enough not to be blessed with a beard, then the shortest player goes first.
Game Play - The game takes place over five rounds (days). Each day you deal out mining cards on the main board equal to the number of players less one. Some cards require coins to be placed on them. Starting with the first player and going clockwise, each player performs one of three actions:
1. Mine a crystal - Take a crystal from the bag and put it on your cart. If you draw an obsidian, you are in danger. If you ever receive a second obsidian, your day is over. All your crystals are returned to the mine and you receive an experience token.
2. Play an action card - Play a blue background card and resolve it. Some of these cards pertain to you and mining crystals. Others target other players, and the player you target may play a purple background card to prevent you from targeting them.
3. Leave the mine - Flip your mine cart over and set your crystals to the side. Players can no longer play blue cards against you, nor can you play purple cards. If there are at least two other dwarves in the mine, you receive the first mining card on the main board (going left to right) and any coins on the card. This is your bravery bonus.

Selling crystals - When the day ends, each dwarf may decide to save two crystals on their chest card. The remaining crystals are then sold according to their value, with four different ways to earn bonus money (outlined in the rule book). When the fifth day ends, the dwarf with the most money is the winner and claims the mine.

Review
Quartz is a game of press your luck, risk management, set collection, and take that. Each time you stick your hand in the bag to pull out a crystal, you never know what you are going to end up with. To make matters worse, people are going to play cards on your turn to try and sabotage you. Yes, you will have some ability to mitigate the sabotage, but if you start accumulating a mass of wealth on one day, you will become an even bigger target. A lot of people won't like this, especially casual gamers and children, but some people this will be right in their wheelhouse. In addition to knowing who to target and when to target them, there is also a bit of strategy on which gems to save and when to cash them in to maximize the profits from the bonuses.

The components in this game are top notch. The boards and coins are a nice thick cardboard. I really like that they shaped the mine carts appropriately, instead of just giving players a square board, and the coins have a thematic look to them as well. The crystals themselves are vibrant in color and have a good weight to them. Pairing them with the rest of the glorious artwork really makes them game pop when displayed on a table.

I'm not generally a fan of games with direct conflict/take that mechanisms, and this is one of the main focuses of the game. The game plays quickly, but if you wanted to, you and a friend could target the same player round after round in this game and make their experience miserable. Now, I don't know, nor do I play with someone who would do that, but the possibility exists. Luckily, the rounds and game both play quickly enough, so it cuts down on some of the potentially negative experience. Another negative for me was a minimum of three players are needed. My gaming is either 2 player, 4 player, or 6 and unfortunately the 4 player group wouldn't enjoy this game. I think with the right group of people this could be a fun game and with the quality and price, I wanted to like this, but it was not for me.

This game was provided to me by Passport Game Studios in exchange for an honest review.