QUANTUM is a new board game by Eric Zimmerman and published in 2013 by Funforge. It plays 2 to 4 players and takes anything from about an hour to ninety minutes to play, depending on which starting setup you choose. This makes it a perfect game for club nights and the rules are so easy to grasp that starting players have just as much chance of winning as regular players.
At first glance Quantum looks like yet another space colonisation and expansion game, but what sets it apart from the other games in this genre is that there are no ‘ships’ as such. You can dismiss all thoughts of fiddly little counters with stats and hit points because this game is much simpler than that; your ships are dice.
The number on the die tells you both how far your ship can move and how powerful it is in combat. The higher the number the further it can move, but the weaker it is since lower numbers beat higher ones when resolving combat.
If you don’t like the ships you’ve got then the dice can be re-rolled into something else. Each number also has its own special ability which can be used once per turn as a free action. For example; 1’s are your Battlestations which get a free attack. 2’s are Transports that can pick up and carry other ships. 3’s can warp to switch places with any one of your other ships, and so on.
The way you win is by being the first player to put all of their ‘Quantum Cubes’ onto the board. These cubes represent power generators and once placed in a system they can’t be destroyed or removed. To place a new cube you simply need the ships orbiting a planet to add up to the number printed on the planet’s tile.
Quantum is such a simple game to play that it’s deceptive at first. Though there aren’t too many rules, there’s enough to still make it interesting. The options a player has at any one time are almost unlimited. This makes you feel as though you’re in control and if one strategy doesn’t quite work, there’s always another one you can try.
The final twist in the game are the Advance cards which have the power to change the rules for a particular player in some way. These take the form of instant hits, like adding an extra ship or taking another turn, or permanent changes which allow faster research or grant combat bonuses which last all game. These cards can be gained by placing new cubes on the board or by steadily increasing your research during your turn as an action.
When I think about all the great games I like, the one element that links them is this complexity out of simplicity. I like games with not too many rules but where each time you play it feels different. Where the players, and not the game mechanics, are influencing the outcome. The first time I played Quantum everyone was fairly closely matched, it felt like any of us could have won. The second time, two of the new players decided it might be useful to form an alliance, with the result that one of them won the game, though again it wasn’t by much.
The other thing I like about this game is that all the different board layouts make for very differnt kinds of games. For instance, the smaller three-player board was much tighter and had us all scrapping from the second turn, while the larger map allowed each player to build up a few research cards before the fight over the central core worlds began.
My only criticism would be that it only plays four players, but I’m guessing they play tested it with more and found that more people slowed it down. The designers obviously wanted to streamline it so it was quick to learn and play and this makes it more likely to get played (there’s nothing worse than a great board game that takes four hours and which nobody ever wants to play!) Still, I’m thinking of getting more sets of different coloured dice so I can try a six or eight player mega-game!
I would highly recommend Quantum. Everyone I’ve played it with has enjoyed it and it even looks good on the table. The artwork is absolutely amazing and generates a lot of interest from onlookers.