Why am I so greedy when it comes to these little push-your-luck style games? Sebby, you have a trouser load of treasure, get out now and you will profit massively. No, more often than not my brain wants to push it a bit further and usually, ends up with nothing. Yep, that's right, bob-all, zilch, nada! Welcome to Diamant, previously knows as Incan Gold, a lovely little push your luck game where every step through the caverns can lead to heavenly riches or if you're like me, empty pockets and a snake bite!
Watch Your Step
The goal in Diamant is simple. Throughout five rounds, collect as much treasure as you can and hopefully have more than the other players by the end of the game. Sounds easy right? A few clever wrinkles in this game make getting out alive and laden with treasure, fraught with drama and indecisiveness.
Each player, which there can be eight of, grabs a wooden character and a lovely little card chest. These chests are put together on your first play and hold your hard-earned coin, keeping it secret from other players. You shuffle a deck of treasure and traps and that is about it for the preparation, it is a very brisk set-up and a game of Diamant can be up and running in a minute or so. Making it effortless to get to the table.
Should I Stay or Should I Go?
Gameplay follows a very simple loop. You turn over a card from the deck and then collectively decide whether you, personally, want to stay in the caverns or leave with your loot. Then stay for the promise of more wealth, however, it is never secured until you get back to camp and listen to the sound of gems and diamonds hitting your treasure chest. You can use the in-game cards to show your intent to stay or leave. We just hold out our hands out and drop our wooden meeples on the table if you want to leave or leave it hidden in the other hand if you want to stay. It feels much more dramatic that way.
The way you die in Diamant is by hazards appearing from the deck, whether it be snakes, lava, boulders or other nasty happenings, when two of the same hazard appear in the cavern, everyone left in is dead. So one hazard is fine and but elevates the risk factor enough for side-glances around the table. There are three of each of the five hazards and a card of a hazard is removed if it kills someone, making sure you always have access to the odds of your imminent destruction in each round.
What is smart about this though is the way the game constantly tempts you to leave. As the treasure cards come out the loot is divided amongst players. Any leftover, that cannot be evenly split is left on the card. When a player or players decide to leave they collect any loot on the way out, splitting it equally. I love watching other players around the table, judging if anyone will scarper out and wonder if it's worth leaving myself. I don't like sharing the treasure with anyone!
Mix into this the artefacts that are not split at all when they are flipped over. These artefacts can only be collected by one player when they leave and one player only. They cannot be split at all, so when a beefy artefact comes up, do you leave to grab it? What if someone tries to leave with you? Then no one gets it. Every card that is flipped creates a great dynamic around the table. Players are yelling greedy at each other, everyone is laughing and it is a lot of fun, even when you make misjudgments.
Gems and Chests
I mentioned the chests earlier. There is one for each of the eight players in different colours and emblazoned with the name of a trepid explorer on the front. They are well made and really add something to the game. The feeling is great when you escape the depths, heavy with loot and pour it all into your little chest. Plus it's fun watching everyone shake them between rounds to gauge who is winning. Brilliant fun.
The character meeples of Diamant are well made wooden effigies, the board and card are thick and sturdy and the treasure is made up of red gems and white diamonds, worth one and five respectively. Everything in this game, which is not a lot, is well made, amazingly thought out and not a part of the game is wasted. I like that about it, it's small, compact and has no unnecessary padding.
I love Diamant. I can play it with my kids, with my mother and everyone just gets it. It's simple, entertaining and it generates heavy banter around the table. Greed is rife, splitting loot is never fun and dying happens a lot. The components are great, it takes little to no time to set up and plays in a very short amount of time. What is not to like. There are times and places for games and I will happily squeeze a game of Diamant in anywhere.