The life of a dwarf can be pretty monotonous at times. Marching into the mines every day to collect gems, just to do it all again the next day. That’s why you and your friends have decided to make a little bet. The dwarf that can accrue the most wealth after five days will gain ownership of the mine. High stakes indeed, y’know if you’re into mines.
Quartz is a fun, push-your-luck game for 3-5 dwarves. It takes place over the course of five rounds where players will delve deeper and deeper into the dark tunnels in search of precious gems like rubies, emeralds and the very rare amber, all while trying to avoid obsidian, which has been deemed worthless.
Each round you will take turns performing one of three possible actions. Game play will continue until there is only one player left in the mine. That signifies the end of the day and players can sell their gems for money. There is a bonus for bravery in Quartz. The longer you stay in the mine the better your reward is going to be, but the bigger the risk you run of having an accident and losing any profit you may have made over the course of the day.
On a turn you’ll often take the action of mining for gems by drawing a coloured crystal from a black bag. You’re hoping to get something of value, but the threat of pulling an obsidian is ever present. You can handle one obsidian in your cart, but a second will cause you to have an accident and end your day. You can play an action card as your turn that will in some way help your cause, or you can simply end your turn. This ensures that the gems you’re collected will be safe and you can take them to market and sell them between rounds.
The main board in Quartz keeps track of the days and also holds the bravery bonuses. The bonuses are a combination of action cards and coins. The later you take the bonus, the better the reward…usually. There is always one less bonus than the number of players and if you’re the second to last player to leave the mine that day, you’re left with nothing, the big goose egg. As long as there are at least two players left in the mine when you end your day you take the leftmost bonus, meaning the second last player to leave gets nothing. The last player takes the last remaining bonus to reward them for staying in the longest. However, if you push your luck and end up with a second obsidian, you get nothing!
Between each day you’ll get a chance to sell the gems you’ve collected and there’s an interesting scoring method. Each different type of gem has a value to it. The fairly common Quartz is worth only one measly coin for each that you sell, but the rare ruby and amber are worth $6 and $8 respectively. Here’s where it gets interesting, selling combinations of gems can double the value of the next gems you sell, or just yield more money for you. Selling three-of-a-kind will double the value of the next group of gems you sell. So, if you sold three of the common Quartz (for $1 each) you could then sell all your sapphires at double their value ($4 x 2 for each). Selling four-of-a-kind allows you to double the value of the next two types of gems that you sell. You can also make extra money for selling different types of gems all together. Selling five different gems will earn you an extra $8 and six different types will earn an extra $12! All of this knowledge will greatly affect what you’re hoping to pull out of the mine bag each turn. Between days you can store up to two gems on your cart, possibly setting yourself up for a big round.
The action cards can be something helpful to you, such as Here We Go (draw three gems from the bag, discard any obsidian you collected and keep any of the others) or Eureka! (draw seven gems from the bag and choose one gem in your cart to replace, then return all of the rest to the bag). Other action cards are direct attacks on your fellow dwarves, like Out of My Waaaay (all other players must discard a gem from their mine cart) or This Isn’t Mine (take an obsidian from your cart and place it in one of your opponent’s). Besides action cards there are also reaction cards. These can be played when one of your opponents is trying to screw you over in some way. They’re great as interrupts and save you from some nasty punishment.
After five days all of your remaining gems are sold as well as any unused action cards. The dwarf that has acquired the most wealth wins the mine!
Quartz is a really fun push-your-luck game that has the right amount of risk coupled with some take-that elements that will have you revelling in messing up some player’s well thought out plans. The only people I’d recommend avoiding Quartz are those that don’t like mean games.You can’t really win, or even get into the spirit of Quartz if you’re not screwing people over. The cards are cute and whimsical, with the right kind of imagery to convey the associated action. The personal carts where you’ll house your gems are nice and clearly display the values of each type as well as the different ways you can sell them. The gems themselves are really beautiful. They’re a lot bigger and chunkier than I was expecting and they make it easy to see at a glance the value that everyone has in their cart around the table. Definitely give this light, fun strategy game a shot!