One of the many games I picked up at Gen Con. Not sure why, but this one just stuck out to me. It looked like a light, but fun push-your-luck game with neat looking components. And the theme seemed kind of fun too. Was my instinct correct? Let’s find out!
QUARTZ (2016) designed by Sergio Halaban & Andre Zatz; Published by Passport Games – For 3-5 players and takes about 30-45 minutes to play.
In this push-your-luck game , players take on the role of Dwarves who have discovered a new mine, where they will be mining for crystals. The object is to be the best miner by collecting the most valuable crystals by the end of 5 days/rounds.
Each player will take their own mine cart/player board and 5 mining action cards.
There will be a main board keeping track of the rounds. Also on this board will be 2-4 (depending on player count) mining cards to be distributed as bravery bonuses.
On a player’s turn, they can do one of 3 actions.
- Mine for crystals
- Play an action card
- Leave the mine
When mining for crystals, players will grab the mining bag and blindly pull ONE crystal out of the bag and place it on their player board.
When playing an action card (with a blue background), simply play the card and resolve its actions. The action may be to steal a crystal from another player, pulling more crystals from the bag, or even giving another player something you don’t want.
When a player leaves a mine, they turn over their player board and are done for the round, keeping all of their crystals they mined that round.
There are 6 different kinds of valuable crystals.
- Quartz – $1
- Amethyst – $2
- Emeralds – $3
- Sapphires – $4
- Rubies – $6
- Amber – $8
But, also in this mining bag are Obsidian, which you DON’T want. There are more obsidian than anything else in this bag, so it’s pretty easy to obtain one. If a player ever acquires 2 obsidian, they crash their mine cart and are out for the rest of the round. This is called having an accident. When players have an accident, they turn their mine cart over and place all of their crystals they acquired back into the bag.
They will also gain an experience token, which will allow them to discard that token to return one obsidian to the bag during a round.
So you see, this is where the push-your-luck element comes in. If you already have one obsidian, do you dare draw mine for another crystal, risking everything you collected that round, or do you leave the mine? Of course, some action cards also help you to get rid of obsidian.
If a player leaves the mine when there are at least 2 drawves left, they can receive a bravery bonus, which means you claim a mining card from the main board (from left to right). If a player has an accident, then remove one card from the board.
If there is one player left, then they will take the last bravery bonus card (if there are any). Or, when playing the “what a thrill” variant (which I don’t see why anyone wouldn’t), they can choose not to take the bravery bonus and draw up to 4 more crystals from the bag. They still can have an accident while doing this, so the push-your-luck element is still there.
At the end of a round, once all players have left the mine, anyone with crystals may choose to sell them. If you want, you can save up to 2 crystals for the next round in your chest. Because…….
There are also 4 types of set collecting bonuses that can be awarded as well (only one bonus per round).
- If you have 3 crystals of the same color, choose another crystal type to double its value.
- If you have 4 crystals of the same color, choose 2 other types to double their value.
- If you have 5 different types of crystals, receive 8 extra coins.
- If you have all 6 types, then receive 12 extra coins.
That’s about it. At the beginning of each other round after the 1st, players will draw one mining card. At the end of the 5th day/round, count up all of your coins received from selling crystals. You can also get coins for any experience tokens, and mining cards they still have in their possession. Player with the most coins is the winner.
The more I get into gaming, the more I realize that I really enjoy push-your-luck games. I think my favorite one right now is Dead Man’s Draw.
So how is Quartz? I would say that this is a pretty solid push-your-luck game. It’s extremely random, so if that bothers you then you may want to avoid this. However, randomness is what makes these types of games so much fun. That’s what gambling is! There’s something thrilling about it for me.
The game has a nice visual presentation. The player boards are really thick and I love that they’re shaped as mining carts. It’s a nice way to bring the theme out.
The crystals themselves are very nice! They are fairly big, and have a nice weight to them. With all the different colors, they look gorgeous.
The game design is decent. I really like having the action cards to play with. I feel like that really makes the game shine, which brings me to a nit picky thing. I wish that you were able to get 5 cards every round. Only getting one at the beginning of every round doesn’t feel right for me. I understand why they did that, since each card you don’t use is worth money at the end of the game, I suppose a player could not use any of them and win because they have lots of cards. But I love the card play in this so much, that I wish you could get more cards regularly. Maybe by NOT having the cards worth money at the end of the game would fix this? I don’t know. It’s a minor thing that really doesn’t ruin the game for me.
I’m not sure if I like that bravery bonus cards go away every time someone has an accident, because there have been many times in my games that a player won’t get any bonus because the other players were reckless. I don’t like that a player who doesn’t have an accident can possibly get cheated out of a bonus because of mistakes made by other players. That was a bit off for me.
And one last nitpicky think. I think for how light the game is, I feel like that it may go on for one round too many. Not all the time, but sometimes it felt too long.
With all that, it may seem like I’m really picking on the game. That’s probably because I just want it to be fantastic. It is a fun game though. If you like push-your-luck games, you probably should pick this up, because it is a good one. The theme really comes through too. I love pretending to be a dwarf mining for crystals, while trying to cause your opponents to have accidents. That’s super fun!
Also, I’ve played this with many different types of groups, and it’s gone over well with all of them. Everyone laughs and talks smack to each other. My 10 year old nieces and nephew went nuts for this game. It’s a good family game too.
So overall, even with my minor nitpicks, Quartz is a solid presentation, with fun artwork, great components, and a super fun push-your-luck element that has a solid theme. If this is your style of game, pick this one up!