As is our usual custom, we laid out all the games people had brought along and each person has two votes for what they want to play. I had brought Diamant along as it was a newly acquired game and I wanted to show it off. However, my main reason for acquiring this game was to play with my 6 year old daughter and non-gamer family members, so I was surprised when it received the most votes.
This group does have a preference for trying new games, and when I mentioned that the average play time was about 30 minutes no one was particularly bothered, as we could play it several times in a row.
The group was
Uncle G: Myself, and the provider of the game. When it comes to push-your-luck games I tend to be relatively cautious and play the odds. I was happy to play but was a bit surprised as I had thought Diamant would be a bit light for this group.
Aged P: My father. 71 years old, and with a proud history of flamboyant strokes, epileptic fits and bowel cancer. The strokes have left him with impaired vision which makes it difficult for him to read a lot of text, or scan a large area of a game board. He and I had played a quick 2 player game earlier that day to help pick up the rules, and the game had gone down well with him.
Dominus: 16 year old nephew. Picks up games quickly and usually develops sound game strategies very early. He used to be an extreme risk taker, but has started to moderate this. He still has a greater risk appetite than I do, but can recognise when the odds are against him and act appropriately. Doesn’t see any point in coming second, and so usually takes massive risks at the end of a game in an effort to win, and sometimes comes last as a result.
Sebastius: 13 year old nephew. Tends to like to choose an appalling start position, so that when he wins everyone will be amazed at his talent and skill. Plays very cautiously and then gets mildly annoyed when people who take bigger risks beat him, and starts complaining about how such games are all about luck.
Diamant proved to be really easy to teach, and we were underway in almost no time at all. Each game consists of five different explorations, and the first ended quickly with no one taking much in the way of treasure. In the second exploration we turned over three treasure cards which ended up leaving a fairly tempting number of rubies for the first person to run away, and I did so. I felt that this early in the game it was important to get some points on the board – you can’t win in the first couple of rounds but you can lose, if you fall adrift by too much.
The others carried on further, and as I had expected Dominus carried on the furthest. Fortune favoured him, and he was able to retire from the exploration with a sizeable lead, while both Sebastius and Aged P retired after me, and so got some points, but fewer than I did due to not picking much up on the way out.
My strategy of trying to pick up a few points went awry in the next few goes. Both explorations were very short with very few points available, and although I picked up some points I was still in second place going into the final round.
By this time the battle was between Dominus and myself, with the other two some way behind. As the exploration developed there were (once again) a tempting amount of jewels left on the revealed tiles, and after a swift bit of arithmetic I realised that if I retreated and claimed them I would move into first place. Whether I won or not would depend on what else was revealed, but I would force Dominus to take that chance. I withdrew with a final score of 44 points.
Dominus stayed in, and his luck held. He eventually withdrew with a score of 45 points, and we sat back to wait for our positions as 1st and 2nd to be confirmed. Sebastius had already withdrawn to secure a solid third place, but Aged P was still going, and suddenly we realised that with a bit of luck he could actually win. With only one explorer left in the tunnel all the gems found went to him, and three valuable tiles in a row meant that Aged P retired with the most loot – a massive come from behind victory.
1st Aged P
3rd Uncle G
Once again I resolved to take points early on to make sure I was in contention in the latter stages. I was handed a golden opportunity to (potentially) post a big score during the second exploration when all three of my opponents withdrew on the same turn, reasonably early on. In this situation the gems which have gone unclaimed are split equally between everyone who withdraws on the same turn, so none of them achieved the points they had hoped for.
This left me as the only explorer left on quite a short path – with a bit of luck I could acquire quite a lot of points and open up a big lead. However, fortune did not favour me, and a second snake appeared, condemning me to leave with nothing.
This became all the more galling when Dominus achieved a big score on the next exploration. The rest of us had all withdrawn to take some decent points – I think we finished up in the 20s – and Dominus finished up with a thumping 61 points in total.
His very large lead allowed him to alter his tactics in the latter rounds, so that he was simply matching what other people were doing, which made it very difficult for anyone to bridge the gap. My ‘little and often’ approach secured me second place.
2nd Uncle G
4th Aged P
By this stage Sebastius was beginning to get a little fed up with the game. It’s never fun to lose to you older brother, but in this case he felt that his more cautious approach ought to be working better, and the fact that he was doing consistently badly while those who ran greater risks did better made him see the game as a huge luck fest, rather than risk management.
There was still half an hour to go, so we had another go.
In the first exploration Sebastius withdrew early, taking a moderate but reasonable score – about 10ish I think – which was his usual habit. For once, the tiles favoured him, and the very next tile brought the exploration to a close without anyone else scoring anything. For the first time ever Sebastius had a lead coming out of the first trip.
There then followed a series of explorations which ended early, and each time Sebastius, and to a lesser extent myself, managed to take a few points. As Dominus got further and further behind, the more he tried to stay in late and score big, and each time he ended up with nothing.
As mentioned in his short biography, Dominus doesn’t see the point in playing for second. For him, it is win or bust, and bust he did – finishing the game with an empty casket. My more pragmatic approach kept me in contention and eventually secured me second place.
2nd Uncle G
3rd Aged P
And so we reached the end of a very enjoyable evening, with Diamant getting a very positive reaction from everyone. This is a game which will be played again.
Our usual custom is to have a short debriefing session once the game has finished where we talked about what we had been trying to do, what strategies we had employed and how well they had worked.
Dominus has the greatest risk appetite of any of us, and for the first two games he got good early scores and went on to dominate the game, although he lost out to a run of luck for Aged P in the first session. His approach to risk management has improved, and he now can work out the probabilities and tends to stay in if there are more good tiles than bad ones left – a different approach to risk than me. He’d rather come last than play for second, and this was what left him in fourth place in the final game.
Sebastius had his opinion transformed by the final game. Events proved to him that a cautious approach could win the game over the risk takers, depending on how long the exploration paths are. His approach was to take a small number of safe points each round, but usually this left him too far off the pace. However, in the final game when he had a lead he was able to stay out in front and win the game.
Aged P had a thoroughly enjoyable time. It’s always difficult to find a game which he can play (as a recovering stroke patient) which the rest of us are going to enjoy too, so it’s really good to have added another to our repertoire. I don’t think he had an overall strategy. His risk appetite is similar to mine, but he’s less good at the mental arithmetic required to work out the odds, and I think this cost him. Staying in late in the final exploration of Game 1 earned him the win, which was a good reminder to us all not to rule anyone out.
I had played with the intention of taking points in the early phases when they were available so that I would always be in with a shot in the later rounds. This worked pretty well in every game, without ever getting me a win. I tended to withdraw when the odds reached about 5 to 1, which can happen surprisingly quickly.
Thoughts on the game
The early leader has a big advantage and can dominate the game. We found this in 2 of our 3 games. Being in the lead allows you to take on more or less the same risk as the other players, and prevent them making up big scores on you. This isn’t foolproof, however,
Cautious play and risk taking can both work, depending on how the hazard cards come out. This is a game playable by people with different risk appetites who will all have a chance of success.
The last point is (for me) probably the most significant.
This game works for gamers and casual/non-gamers alike. My purpose in acquiring this game was to have a game in my collection which I could play with my 6 year old daughter, non-gamer wife and her even more non-gamer mother. I think I have succeeded in this. The nice bits (especially the gem stones) will appeal to my daughter; the simple decision making and 30 minute play time will appeal to my wife and mother-in-law; and the high levels of luck will prevent anyone feeling stupid if they lose. What I did not expect was that this game would work so well and prove so popular with my Saturday night gaming group.
What an excellent session report!
You included more analysis, gameplay description, and game photos than most reviews.
This is the kind of resource that makes BGG so helpful to people looking for information on games.
And yes, Diamant is an excellent game for gamers AND non-gamers, young and old, casual and serious.
Thanks for the positive feedback. I've settled on a format for my session reports now, and try to make them worthwhile.
Excellent report indeed. I like how you inserted enough pictures inbetween the text and the paragraphs are nicely spaced, it makes reading through it enjoyable and less taxing.