Quantum

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Publisher: Fun Forge

Designer: Eric Zimmerman

Players: 2-4

Ages: 13+

Duration: 60 min

Drifting in space… looking for a planet to grasp your energy from. You and your fleet notice a shiny green planet in the distance. It looks like there is a lot of energy you can harvest with your quantum cubes. Your battle stations move slowly, so yours scouts head out to take a look. As they approach, on the other side you see a rival fraction. They too want to harvest the energy of the planet.. but there is only room for one more…

Quantum is a area control/dice/abstract-like game. It really feels familiar, yet brings a lot of new to the table. You and your opponents are trying to drop your quantum cubes on different planets, and the first person to drop all of their cubes wins the game. But is this stunning game with its amazing space backdrop really what it sets out to be?

What’s in the box?

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Just look at those… wow.

Inside the box there are 24 map tiles, 30 dice (7 in each colour plus 2 combat dice), 53 cards, 4 player command sheets and 28 quantum cubes (7 in each colour). As you know, I love when games have gorgeous art and great components… and this game delivers big time. First of all… this game has the best dice I have ever seen or felt. I’m not too big on dice games, but man this one hits it out of the park. They’re frosted and the weight is just perfect.  As for the rest of the game, the tiles and command cards are super thick and the cards feel great. The artwork has a classic science fiction theme to it, king of a Star Wars/Star Trek/Wing Commander (the video game… not the movie) feel, and while the game really would work without the theme, it really adds something to it. While some games like this feel the theme is added on, this one feels like they really thought it out and not just pasted it on, but really made it work into the game.

So how do you play?

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Nice calming blue… if you enjoy being a space pirate.

I’m going to explain a basic set up here; you set up a map of 3X3 tiles (follow the instructions in the book on how many spaces per planet). Each player receives a command sheet (basically a player mat), 5 quantum cubes and 7 dice. You place 2 of your die on your board as counters, one on the dominance spot and one on the research and set 2 aside. Then you roll your remaining 3 and that will become your starting ships. The lowest total goes first and chooses their starting location as shown in the instructions, putting their ships in orbit and placing one quantum cube on that planet. Then you will shuffle the command (white) and gambit (black) cards and set them aside, along with the 2 combat (black and white) dice. Now you are ready to play!

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Everyone is ready for war

So how do you play? You will have 3 actions you are allowed to spend, and you can choose from the following:

  • Reconfigure: Re-roll one of your ships
  • Deploy: Move one of your destroyed ships from the scrapyard to the map
  • Move: Move and/or attack with one of your ships
  • Construct (This move uses 2 actions). Build a quantum cube around a planet you are orbiting
  • Research: Increase the research on your board by 1

Seems pretty simple doesn’t it? But how do your ships move and attack? Thats one of the best mechanics of this game. Your ships are determined by their die value. 1 is a battle station… slow and can only move 1 space while a scout is fast and can move 6 spaces. But… what about combat? Thats where it gets interesting… combat works backwards. As in… the lower the value, the more powerful it is. When you engage in combat, you and your opponent will each take a combat die and roll it… and add it to your ship total. The lower value wins! Example… if you have a destroyer (value of 3) and your opponent has a frigate (value of 5) and you roll a 3 and your opponent rolls a 2, you win because your total is 6 (3+3) and they have 7 (5+2). The person who attacked always breaks ties, and if you are the attacker and won your opponent must take their ship and re-roll it, and place it in their scrapyard. If you are the defender and you win, you will knock your opponent back a spot and take a deep breath that you just survived being annihilated. But that’s not all ships do… each ship has a special action that doesn’t take a regular action. Example, the interceptor (5) can move diagonally, while the destroyer (3) can warp and swap places with any one of your ships. Where and when you use these actions can really impact your game.

But how do you place those elusive quantum cubes and win? Well, you must be in orbit of a planet that has a free slot for a quantum cube and doesn’t have one of your colour already. Each planet has a numeric value under it. If you are in orbit (in the 4 squares next to it) and have your ships (dice) with the numeric value that is exact to the total of the planet number, you can spend 2 actions to place a cube there. So that means that because you have 3 actions each turn, you can’t move twice and then place a cube, which makes it more challenging. There is one other way to place a cube. Every time you win a battle and destroy a ship, you raise your dominance on your board by 1. If you reach 6, you can place a cube on a planet that has a free space and doesn’t have your colour. But… watch out, because every time one of your ships gets destroyed your dominance goes down by 1.

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Things are starting to get tense up here

So now you’ve just spent your 3 actions… is that all? Well… if you placed a quantum cube or raised your research to 6 this turn, you also get a special card! You can choose from a command card (white) or gambit card (black). Command cards will slide next to your board (you’ll notice you have 3 slots) and will give you an extra ability for the game, while gambit cards are one time use powerful cards that have a game-altering ability. You will have 3 of each to choose from so pick wisely. And if you have questions about how cards interact with other cards or gameplay rules, the instructions are really helpful and even have some scenarios that are explained if this were to happen… It’s very well written.

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Hmmmm… sabotage? Or plunder? Both sound like space pirate work to me

So that’s it… as soon as you (or your opponents if you’re a pretty terrible leader of your fleet… hey, its just fact) places their last cube, game is over and they are crowned the winner!

Is it any good?

I love 4X games. 4X stands for eXplore, eXpand, eXploit, and eXterminate. They are those big sprawling games that take up a whole table and looks amazing and overwhelming. I love building up a fleet and attacking opponents… it’s great. But… the problem is most of those games are either super complicated and have SO many rules, and they take over 3 hours (sometimes double that) to complete. As much as I love the idea of them… I don’t have the time to not only learn and then teach them but actually play them.

Quantum is great because it satisfies my desire to play those games, but fits in a hour timeframe and is quite easy to teach. Yea, you don’t have hundreds of little cool plastic ships in the box, but the dice work REALLY well replacing them. It doesn’t really have the full 4X experience; you don’t really explore, but you do expand your fleet, you exploit the planets (placing quantum cubes) and you exterminate your opponents. But that’s ok. And I said this before; the game really didn’t need this science fiction theme. It would have worked with just the mechanics, but how they integrated and meshed the theme really makes it stand out.

One thing that I found is that at 2 players, the game is just good, not great. With more players, the interaction and blocking is tight and makes every turn tense. With 2, its more wide open and relaxed. It still works but doesn’t have the same epic feel to it.

But… there is the replay-ability. I gave a basic setup explaining the game… but the game comes with dozens of advanced maps you can play, and even gives you a guideline to creating your own maps… so the possibilities are really in your grasp. These maps can also increase gameplay time as they add more quantum cubes to deploy if you feel the game is TOO short, or can even shorten the game a little. And some of those maps make 2 player games a little tighter, so that helps a little.

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Wide open or incredibly tight gameplay? You choose!

I love Quantum. It fits a niche that gives me what I want… epic gameplay in a manageable time frame and something I can teach in about 5-10 minutes. The components are stunning, the mechanics are phenomenal and well designed, and the gameplay is epic and memorable. I HIGHLY recommend this game.

Pros:

  • Stunning art and components
  • I’m making a seperate pro for the dice… these are the best dice I’ve seen in a game so far
  • Mechanics are tight
  • Gameplay is tense and epic until the very end

Cons:

  • It’s not as good with 2 as it is with 3 or 4 players

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