My job is not the day shift or the night shift, it's the always shift!
I will chop your head off!
Being that my wife is my main gaming partner, getting around to playing space 4x games like Eclipse and Twilight Imperium has been difficult. I like the idea of them, but getting enough people involved that want to play seems like more trouble than it's worth. Well, after some research, even though Eclipse isn't the ideal 2p game, I went to my FLGS fully expecting to buy it with the hopes that someday I could experience the game with more players involved.
Much to my surprise, I saw a game I hadn't heard of before sitting on display called Quantum. It's fairly rare for them to get in very many new games at a time, so I was very intrigued. My FLGS is pretty laid-back, and there was a sticky note on the side of the box written by one of the employees saying that this was a much more manageable version of TI3. That caught my eye since my wife doesn't like overly-complicated games, and getting a space 4x game on the lighter side would probably be better-suited for her. When I asked the store owner about it, he said that his friends were playing it constantly and loved it. Rather than go with Eclipse, which I knew was going to be mediocre for my situation, I decided to take a shot in the dark with Quantum, and I am so glad that I did. It may not be as grandiose as many of the other space 4X games out there, but it ended up being exactly what I wanted.
How it Plays
Quantum is a space 4x game that heavily relies on dice for just about everything. Each player is given 7 dice and a player board representing their faction. Two of these dice go into your reserve (More on that later), three will act as your starting ships, and the remaining two will represent your dominance and research values with both starting at 1. These can increase all the way up to 6 over the course of the game, which will lead to some nice rewards. More on those in a bit.
One of the coolest features of this game is that you can construct your own map of planets with the tiles that come in the box. You can make an even grid of planets, a long stretch of them, and anything in between. The game comes with a sheet of suggested layouts, but you're also able to make your own following some included guidelines.
Each planet will have a number next to it that is anywhere between 7 and 10. The higher the number will have more spots for players to spread their influence to that planet by settling it. Each planet also has 9 squares around it; Ones above it, below it, to the left of it, to the right, and squares that make up the corners of the tile. The tiles above, below, left, and right are orbital locations, while the squares diagonally adjacent to the planet are considered open space.
After you have built a map, you are ready to begin the game. You take your remaining three dice and roll them. You are allowed one re-roll, but must take your results on the second attempt. You then claim one of the allowed planets (Usually one of the ones at the edge of the map), and place your dice in the orbital spots around this planet. Another neat feature of this game is that your dice represent ships. 1's are huge dreadnaughts that are really slow but pack a huge punch, while 6's are scouts that can get around easily. Each number represents a different kind of ship, and each type of ship has a special ability. They don't all seem useful at first, but they all work very well in different situations.
After you have your planet and your ships, the game begins. You get three actions on your turn that you can use to move a ship, re-roll a ship (You get to roll until you get a different number), bring a ship into play from your scrapyard, settle planets (Requires two actions), or increase your research by a point.
If you move a ship into an enemy ship's location, this initiates a battle. You both roll a die and add the value to your ship's number, with the lowest amount winning. If the defender wins, nothing happens except for the attacker having to retreat back to the space it came from. If the attacker wins, the defending ship is re-rolled and sent to that player's scrapyard while the attacker claims the space. Also, whenever you win a combat where you were the attacker, your dominance die increases by one. Conversely, if you lose as the defender, your dominance die goes down by one. If your dominance die ever reaches 6, you get a reward called infamous, which allows you to place one of your Quantum Cubes on any planet that you don't already occupy and that also has a free space available for a cube. This makes combat strategies very viable in this game. After this occurs, you reset your dominance die back down to 1, but can work back up to 6 again through combat.
The goal of this game is to settle planets, and you do this with Quantum Cubes. Each game will allow for a different amount, but it's usually between 5 and 7 depending on how big the map is. To settle a planet, your ships much be in orbital spaces in such a way that their numbers equal the number beside the planet. They cannot be any higher or lower. This can be done in many ways, however. For a "7" planet, you could have a 2 and a 5 in orbit, or you could have a 1, 1, 2, and 3 in orbit. As long as your ships in orbit equal the planet and there are spaces on the planet available, you can place one of your Quantum Cubes there.
The last thing I want to discuss is the deck of cards included in the game. These make up two decks that are used during the game, one being white and one being black. The black cards are one-time use cards while the white cards remain in play after you claim them. While the black cards may not seem as good at first glance, getting these is the only way to bring in your other two ships from your reserve. There are also ones that allow you to take another turn with two actions instead of three. The white cards are also very useful though. These will usually have keywords like Intelligent, Cruel, Dominant, etc. These not only give you special abilities, but they give your faction some personality. Some may cause you to generate research faster, some may allow your ships to be more maneuverable, and some may allow you to be better at combat.
There are a couple of ways to acquire these cards. The first being settling a planet. Whenever you do so, you may acquire one card from either deck, and each deck always has three cards on offer. The second way to claim a card is by increasing your research die to 6. At the end of the turn when this happens, you will claim a card and reset your research die to 1. Thus allowing you to further your research on following turns.
The game continues until one player has used up all of their Quantum Cubes to settle planets. The first person to do so is the winner.
What Do I Think
Quantum reminds me a lot of King of Tokyo, and I think the same people who like KoT will enjoy Quantum. Aside from the fact that both are dice games, they are easy to get into and play for just about everybody. Plus both games have those cards you can acquire to give yourself unique abilities when compared to other players. Also, both offer different ways to win aside from combat, although combat is very much at the forefront of both games. Unlike King of Tokyo, however, there is a lot more strategy to be found in Quantum.
On your turn you're going to have to have a bunch of things to take into account. You want to build up your ships and settle planets, but you want to keep your opponents from doing the same. You want to focus on research as much as possible, but you don't want to fall behind while your opponents advance their armada closer to your area of space. There is a lot to consider, but as long as you don't allow yourself to have AP, the game moves along very quickly.
While Quantum may not be a true 4x game, it comes very close. You get to exterminate other players' ships, you get to expand to other planets, and you can exploit by way of increasing your research and settling planets to gain new abilities. The only X that isn't really represented is exploring, and while I do love a game that has an adventurous feel to it, I don't feel it's as vital here.
I will say this: Quantum is not a perfect game at 2p. Most of the time it's really a duel to the death where research doesn't really come into play as much. I've seen thoughts on a drafting variant where you choose some starting abilities before you begin playing, and I do think that would help make 2p games more interesting. The only problem is, some abilities are nearly broken at 2p. In my first game, I got an ability called Righteous, which made it so my Dominance Die was never reduced by losing a combat. This made it very easy to just fight my way to victory, and my opponent didn't have a chance. Also because of the back and forth with 2p, dominance doesn't normally play a role either. Usually as soon as you destroy a ship or two, your opponent will do the same. On the plus side, 2p games are very short. Usually 15-20 minutes tops. The game is really short as it is, especially when compared to other 4x games, but it works really well as a filler with 2.
3p is a bit better overall, though it suffers from the same problem that plagues a lot of other combat-oriented games that allow for 3p; Usually if one player focuses on destroying one player, the third player is allowed to sneak his or her way to victory. 4p is really where this game shines. It's also the longest with this many players, clocking in at right around 45 minutes on average, but that's still very concise for this genre of game. Research becomes much more important with more players as well, and the game really comes into its own with the full player count.
I'm actually really impressed by Quantum overall. So much so that I need to redo my top 10 for 2013, because this is solidly in the top 3 for me. I rate it a 8.5 according to BGG's rating system, and it's very rare for me to give a game that rating or higher. That usually means it's in my top 15-20 games overall. It's just a really neat game that offers the same basic experience as a TI3 or Eclipse in a fraction of the time. The way it uses dice is so simple and elegant that I'm surprised that this hasn't been designed already.
My only real complaint about the game is that I wish that the starting factions and planet tiles were more unique. The player boards each look different and have very short back stories to them, but otherwise it doesn't really matter who you play as. I know that acquiring cards during the game helps to define your faction, but the fact that the blue player is supposed to be a more warlike faction and the green player is supposed to be more focused on science kind of defeats that purpose. Also, the components are of really good quality, but I've noticed that my player boards and planet tiles have been peeling along some of their edges. Some of them came this way, which makes me wonder if this is a common problem with this printing. They're really thick, but I'm a little unhappy with how easily damaged they can be.
Regardless, Quantum has quickly become one of my favorite games, and I can't stop playing it. It's very easy to knock out two or three games in an hour at 2p. There certainly is a lot of luck to the game, and if you can't handle that then I'd suggest you stay away. I'm not normally a fan of games that live and die by dice-rolling, but this one doesn't bother me for some reason. The same could be said with how combat-heavy it is, because there's no way you can win if you decide to turtle. I also really like that the different layouts can make for different games. Some feel like a tug of war over a single planet, while others feel like you need to have a presence on a few different locations to have a chance of winning.
Quantum is a quick, in your face action game that just about anyone can pick up and play. I'm a little surprised it hasn't become more popular, because I can see it becoming the next King of Tokyo with how similar it feels. It may not be the next Twilight Imperium, but it has certainly earned a place on my shelf for how well it scales and how enjoyable it is. If you're like me and don't always have the people or the time for an epic 4x game, you should definitely check this one out.
+Easy to learn and quick to get into
+Works very well at all player counts
+Awesome insert included in box, one of the best I've ever seen
+Plays quickly and offers a good space 4x experience
+Acquiring cards to differentiate your faction is both rewarding and fun
+You can design your own spacial layouts so that every game feels different
+Uses dice in a creative and enjoyable way
+Turtling isn't an option if you want to win
-Lots of luck due to constant dice-rolling
-Components are of somewhat disappointing quality
-Combat is a necessity. This may or may not be a con depending on who you play with
-No variety aside from appearances in factions and planet tiles feels like a missed opportunity
Interaction leads to Immersion.
Immersion leads to Fun.
It only reminds me of KoT because of the action cards, them being very very strong or not so strong. The cards actually add more randomness than the dice. Luck with dice can be mitigated by strategies at least partially; not so with luck of the draw.
It exceeds the crappy euro Eclipse by far btw... which does not have less luck.
For me a 7/10 game around.
This one is high on my radar. I like your thoughts about differentiating the factions. I realize it may take several plays to figure out what is balanced and what works, but you could always pick one of the cards to give to each race as a starting technology. That would differentiate them from the outset.
That said, the more I hear about the cards, the more I think about Eminent Domain and its scenarios. I wonder with enough plays, if you could do the same thing with Quantum where each player gets one or two cards (depending on relative strength/usefulness) at the beginning of the game. The scenario cards are supposedly balanced so whichever scenario you start with, you've got an even shot. Also, that may water down the luck of the draw randomness since everyone starts with one or two "good but not great" techs.
Just an ignorant thought from someone who hasn't even gotten to try it yet. But it is a game that I'm excited to try.
Woo! Gonna get some
44, that's me!
I haven't had any problems w/ cardboard quality. My dice were yucky, but Funforge replaced them promptly, so no complaints there.
I wish there were variable player powers as well. I have a few other wishes on that same score: I wish the player boards had alternate genders (and/or powers) on either side, and I wish the planets had both alternate numbers on the opposing side and also some sort of power. The alternate gender sides on the player boards would help w/ inclusion and be more aesthetically appealing, and alternate planet sides would increase the variety of layouts. The variable player and planet powers would increase complexity and depth, but also playtime.
None of this is a big deal, though. This is a great game.
As we don´t like the constant "dice rolling" too,
we play with ships straight 1 - 6. No rerolling,
every ships stay a it is. works...