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DIAMANT

Reviewed by Herb Levy

(Schmidt Spiele, 3-8 players, ages 8 and up, about 20 minutes; about $40)

 

Jewels buried deep within the earth lure players to the table with Diamant, the first collaborative design by Alan R. Moon and Bruno Faidutti. In this light and fast-paced game, players seek to remove jewels from mines all the while knowing that disaster may strike at any time!

Diamant comes boxed with a game board representing the base camp and five cave entrances, 30 cave cards, 90 precious stones (red rubies worth 1 and diamonds worth 5), 8 player pawns, 8 treasure chests and counters numbered 1 through 5.

Each player chooses a player pawn (shaped in the form of a person representing an “adventurer”) and the matching color treasure chest. The number counters are placed on the five cave entrances to indicate which path is currently being explored.diamant

The cave card deck consists of 15 diamond cards (with values ranging from 1 to 17) and 15 danger cards (three each of five possible disasters – scorpion, cave in, explosion, gas and snakes).

The cave cards are shuffled and the first card drawn is placed at the first entrance. By playing these cards, the path of the mine tunnel is slowly mapped. If a diamond card is drawn, your luck is good and you’ve found the indicated number of gems. These gems are distributed evenly among all the players in the cave and placed in front of each player’s treasure chest. Any remainder is left on the card/path. If a disaster card is drawn, no jewels have been found and no jewels placed. In either case, the miners now have a decision to make. Stay in the mine and try to find more jewels (and risk disaster) OR leave now before it’s too late!

This decision is made secretly as each player takes his pawn and then, holds out a closed fist. All closed fists are opened simultaneously. If a closed fist is empty, then the adventurer will continue on the path in search of new treasure. If the fist contains the adventurer pawn, that adventurer is leaving the mine. Leaving the mine allows you to pick up any “left over” jewels as you leave and place ALL of the jewels you’ve amassed in this mine shaft up to this point into your treasure chest where they remain safe. (If more than one adventurer leaves with you, left over jewels are evenly shared. If there are still gems remaining, they are left on the path for future adventurers to claim on their way out – if they survive!)

As long as at least one adventurer is in the mine, cards are drawn and, after each draw, a decision must be made whether to stay or go UNLESS a second card of the SAME disaster is drawn. If that happens, the mine collapses! Any adventurers remaining within LOSE all of the gems they have accumulated in that shaft. One of the disaster cards that caused the collapse is now removed from play and we do it all over again as everyone begins exploring the next mine shaft.

When the fifth and final shaft has been explored, the game ends and players count up the jewels accumulated in their treasure chests. The player with the most value in jewels wins the game!

Diamant shares some of the same characteristics with Sid Sackson’s classic game of “push your luck”, Can’t Stop, (Winter 1997 GA REPORT) as well as Cloud 9, another Moon collaboration (with Aaron Weissblum that time and featured in the Winter 2005 GA REPORT). The link is that in all of these, you are sorely tempted to go one step further than prudence dictates because the potential payoff is so great. But, with Diamant, there are no dice. It’s the one-by-one revealing of the cards that creates the tension. Since disaster cards get removed as you get deeper and deeper into the mine, you start getting a false sense of security which encourages recklessness too. But any kind of planning is an illusion. Collapses happen suddenly and frequently making this game pure chaos and “dangerous” fun. And the more the merrier. While the game can work with few, the fun multiplies geometrically with 5 or more.

Moon and Faidutti’s first collaboration has paid off handsomely. The production quality of Diamant is high: wooden adventurer pawns, nicely designed treasure chests, red and clear jewels. The downside to this, unfortunately, is a higher than expected retail price and that’s a shame. Diamant has all the qualities to be a very successful mass market game. As we go to press, efforts are being made to find a home for Diamant with one of the mass market companies. If successful, this should result in a new edition of the game with a higher print run, hopefully equal (or even better) production values, and a very welcome, lower, retail price. But even if a new edition doesn’t come to frution, Diamant is a gaming experience where everyone can strike it rich! – – – – – Herb Levy


 

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