QuantumTM reviewed in GamesGamesGames, February 1998
Quantum is a unique strategy game for 2 to 4 players.
The objective of the game is to eliminate all your opponent's pieces, or to occupy the central four squares on the board. (If you have less than four pieces remaining, then you just need to get all your pieces into the central four squares, and make sure none of your opponent's pieces are in there with you.)
Each player is given a number of cylindrical pieces, blank on one end, and with either a star or a circle on the other end. The exact quantities vary with the number of players, but there are generally twice as many circles as there are stars.
At the start of the game, the board is set up randomly by the following mechanism; first, players throw their pieces onto the board, then the board is shaken until all the pieces have fallen into the holes on the board. The board and pieces are cleverly designed so that the pieces will always fall into the holes face down.
The first player is determined (the person with the least pieces in the central area of the board) and the game begins. On each turn, a player may move a piece, or turn over a face-down piece. Movement and capture rules for pieces depends on the type of the piece, as follows:
All face-down pieces move by jumping over an adjacent piece belonging to an opponent. Multiple jumps are allowed, and all opponent's pieces jumped are removed from the board. At the end of the move, the piece is turned face up. Circles move and capture like a chess king, one space in any direction. Stars move and capture like a chess queen.
In addition, there are two special rules:
-- if a piece moves to a corner square, it is swapped for the other type of piece (i.e. circle becomes star and vice versa), and replaced anywhere on the board except the central four spaces.
-- when your last piece is turned face-up, you get to reposition it anywhere on the board, where it explodes, destroying itself and any adjacent pieces.
Despite the random start up and hidden pieces, there is little luck in the game. At the start of the game, face-down pieces are by far the most powerful, often capable of taking 5 or 6 opponent's pieces in a single move.
After a few turns of mass destruction, the remaining pieces become too scattered for the face-down pieces to be of any use, and the strategy revolves around domination of the centre, and mobilisation of your pieces.
Finally, when there are just a few face-down pieces left on the board (assuming the game lasts this long...), the emphasis shifts to preparation for the final explosion, and the game can often be won with a bang!
Quantum plays for about 15 minutes, and I recommend it both to us abstract game fanatics and to normal human beings alike.
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