No looking! Only touching...

I love a good prop in my tabletop games. Whether it’s the satisfying pouches used to smuggle contraband in Sheriff of Nottingham, the tactile implementation of the Mafia de Cuba box, or the legendary foam guns from Cash’ n Guns, a good prop goes a long way to breaking down the barriers of board gaming. Because, let’s be honest, there’s nothing more intimidating for new players than hundreds of tiny components - or a board that requires a set up rivalling it’s play time!

Quartz, features an excellent prop - an enticing bag of crystals.

In this push your luck game, players take the role of a bunch of greedy dwarves who are mining for crystals. Each crystal up for grabs is a specific colour and the various colours provide players with differing amounts of cash at the end of a round. On a players turn, they’ll dunk their hand into the bag of crystals, have a feel around, convince themselves that they can distinguish one of the more valuable crystals merely by touch – you can’t - and without looking, claim the crystal they wish to mine.

This right here is the joy of Quartz. Every time a player plunges into the mine; if you just watch the players faces, there’s a guaranteed rollercoaster of emotions. Perhaps the frustration at discovering an Obsidian crystal, maybe the excitement at finding a precious ruby followed by the immediate fear and suspicion that all of your fellow players are going to attempt to steal it. Most games would be lucky to get this much of a reaction once or twice; but with Quartz, this happens on every single player turn.

As hinted earlier, not all the crystals waiting to be mined are as profitable as you may hope; in particular, Obsidian. Picking an Obsidian crystal is by no means the end of the world – but it’s pretty bad. If a player is ever in the unfortunate position of having two obsidian crystals in their mine cart, the mine will collapse and of all that ambitious dwarves crystals for the round will be lost.

This is the push your luck element of the game. At any time, a player can simply refuse to continue to mine for crystals, choosing instead to pass. While they won’t be able to boost their score anymore, they’ll be able to grab one of the bonus mining cards as compensation.

Now, these bonus cards are where Quartz really gets interesting. Mining Cards are brutal.

During a round, instead of mining for a crystal, players can play one of their mining cards from their hand, each of which have a differing effect. Maybe I can get another player to mine a crystal for me, taking all of the risk but none of the glory. Pretty rough, right? Nah, that’s nothing. There’s a card in Quartz which simply lets you give another player one of your obsidian crystals; and as mentioned earlier, it only takes two obsidians to completely knock someone out of a round

What did I learn from Quartz? Well don’t let me anywhere near a casino. Seriously. It’s just far too tempting to stay in the mine for just one more round.

Maybe this time I might get a precious red crystal; those are worth loads!

That thought process went through my head so many time playing Quartz and almost every time I would on my next turn immediately reveal an additional obsidian. It can be very harsh but if you’re after a short, easy to play party game which will let you wind up your mates, Quartz is definitely one I’d recommend.