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Qwantum Review – Gaming By Numbers

Every now and then, as someone who plays board games, a small and simple game will cross your path. That game may not take a long time to play, and it may not have a large number of rules, but it can be worth talking about nonetheless. Today, we are looking at a game like that. Today we are going to review Qwantum.

Qwantum is the product of a challenge we do each year at the UK Games Expo known as “The £10 Challenge”. As a board game community, we are going through a bit of a roll-and-write renaissance at the moment, with so many entering the market, and so friends of ours picked Qwantum as a their £10 challenge. We then ended up buying our own copy, because the maths behind this game are actually really quite interesting.

Qwantum box

Qwantum box

What is Qwantum? How is it played?

Qwantum is an incredibly simple roll-and-write game deisgned by Stefan Kloß, Anna Oppolzer, and Reinhard Staupe. It is actually the third in a trilogy of games published by NSV, the other two being Qwixx and Qwinto, and costs under £10 to buy.

The goal of the game is to get as many points as possible, and this is done through filling 24 boxes in with numbers. Those boxes are split across four coloured rows – purple, blue, red, and yellow – with six boxes (or circles actually) on each row. Each row is then split up into two sections – four boxes, a thick line, and then two more boxes.

The concept is then really simple. On your turn you will roll 7 dice – six of which have coloured sides – purple, red, blue, yellow – and one of which is just a normal white dice. Those dice have different distributions of numbers on them going from 1-6. Some may have two of one number whilst missing a number, some may have three pairs of numbers missing three numbers – you get the idea.

On your turn, you roll those dice and then you, as the active player, choose a colour. You add together the numbers showing of that colour and add on the number showing on the white dice as a modifier. So, if the results are yellow 3, yellow 3, and the white dice is showing a 3, then the yellow number would be 9.

Qwantum Review - The contents to Qwantum (right before they blew away)

The contents to Qwantum (right before they blew away)

Don’t like a roll? Don’t worry – you can re-roll any number you want, once.

You then take that number and write it in the corresponding coloured box. Since you were first player, you remove the coloured dice and the other players have the other dice to then choose from. No more are removed that turn. If a colour isn’t rolled then the white dice acts as a wild card showing that colour, making very low numbers possible. The white dice is never removed from play.

As you write numbers on your sheet, they have to ascend before the white line and descend after the line. What is more, whenever you fill in a column (so one in the purple, one in the blue, one in the yellow, and one in the red – all on top of each other) you gain the second lowest score in the column as your score for that column.

If you can’t place a number on a turn, you end up ticking off a box on the right hand side of your sheet. As you do, you get cumulative negative points added on at the end of the game. That, needless to say, isn’t great.

At the end of the game, you add up all your scores and the highest score wins.

Pretty simple, eh?

Qwantum Review - My first score sheet wasn't good...

My first score sheet wasn’t good…

What is Qwantum like to play?

Now then, this is where things get interesting. There are essentially three core points to make about Qwantum in order to understand what it is like to play.

Firstly, there is absolutely no avoiding it. Qwantum is a dry game. On this blog we often refer to games like Onitama, Tsuro, and Hive as abstract games. In reality, those games actually have themes, they are just looser than some other themes within the industry. Believe me when I say – Qwantum has no theme, and by that we mean…it really has no theme. It is dry, and although the game doesn’t feel too long, and it lasts 15 minutes, it feels like it lasts a lot longer. I actually took the majority of the pictures in this article outside, just to make the images more interesting.

Qwantum - No Theme Picture

See?

Secondly, the scoring is a work of genius. The fact you get scored based on your second lowest score means that you don’t just want to play the game safe. If you play safe, yes, you are more likely to complete all your columns; however, if you play it slightly riskier then it is possible to beat a player who finishes filling the sheet in first, just by having fewer, larger numbers. This really keeps the game on edge, and you find yourself laughing around the table at silly mistakes you have all made.

Thirdly, if you are a math geek, Qwantum is an interesting game. The dice are an analyst’s dream as what it does mathematically is really interesting. I really like that part of the game, and bought myself a copy (a pure German copy may I add, because apparently I can’t read Amazon product descriptions) just to pick the maths apart. Super sexy number geekery. I’m sensing some analytical articles in the future.

Qwantum Review - Analysing the Game

Sometimes you have to analyse a game on the go…

So, what does this make Qwantum? Well, ultimately, what this does is make Qwantum a bit of a puzzle, and probably more so a puzzle than it is a game. It is a game designed for players who just want to knuckle down into their own puzzle, and not really worry about anything else. Where that if far from a bad thing, especially in such a short game, it can put some players off.

With that in mind – Qwantum is a fine game. It is fair and can lead to some funny moments. The game is in the risk and as is the enjoyment factor. It is possible for players to play completely optimally, safely completing all 24 boxes with ease and scoring them all; however, that isn’t really where the game is. It kind of relies on players to understand that to all have a great time.

That is unless you are a complete nerd like myself – in which case you can probably geek out at just how well the numbers are put together and happily stare at the box wondering when you get to put together the analysis article.

Where there aren’t really any negative things to say about Qwantum, it is perfectly functional, there isn’t a huge amount to fully recommend it and say “buy this game because…”. There are other roll-and-write games with more to them, but if you are a math nerd then this is more or less as pure as roll-and-write gets. Let’s start working out some P functions.

TL;DR; The Good, The Bad, and The Reroll

Like with all games we can now note down the good, bad and neutral points to do with Qwantum.

The Good

  • Qwantum has a really interesting scoring system that is kind of unique. It reminds me, oddly, of Between Two Cities in that regard because you take your second lowest score as your score for each column. It works really well.
  • When at its best, Qwantum can have the entire table laughing at rubbish decisions and risks everyone takes.
  • If you are in a really competitive group or a really un-competitive group then playing Qwantum can be fun as either something super serious and intense as you roll dice, or something really daft as you make silly decisions.
  • Math…the number aspect is brilliant for anyone who likes…well…numbers…

The Neutral

  • There is no theme. Qwantum is an extremely dry game.

The Bad

  • If you are in a group with one competitive player, or one math geek whilst everyone else wants to be silly, then it may not work. The people who don’t want to be hugely competitive may find the game a slog.
  • The short play time can feel longer because of the lack of theme.

Conclusion: Qwantum Review

So, what can be said about Qwantum? Well, if you like roll-and-write games it is okay. There are other stronger entries to the genre, like the excellent Castles of Burgundy dice game or Welcome To… (which is more draw cards-and-write, than roll-and-write, but it is the same kind of thing). If you like puzzle games for a laugh, then games like The Mind are probably worth considering.

If, however, you have played those and want something varied then it could be worth a go. If you like numbers and math, then Qwantum is a good game for you. It is worth getting just to nerd out over.

So, there you have it. That is Qwantum. Have you played it? What are your thoughts? Let us know in the comments below.

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