As a gamer you probably want to play games during the holidays, right? What’s better than sitting around the diner table, enjoying a nice talk and a cup of eggnog, while playing a fun game. But not every family member is a game connoisseur, like you are. They might never have played a modern board game in their entire life. However, they’ve might have played a traditional card game once in their lives. Mmh, then Diamonds from Mike Fitzgerald may be the game to get all your family members to have a great time.
What do you get for your money?
60 Cards, 110 small transparent diamonds, 25 large red diamonds, 6 screens, 6 player aids and the rules.
How do you play the game?
Diamonds is a trick taking game with a twist. You’re playing cards to win, or not to win, a trick and you do that because you want to collect as many plastic diamonds as possible. Every player gets a safe, a screen where you can secretly store your diamonds.
The game takes a couple of rounds, depending on the amount of players, and at the end players count their diamonds. A diamond in front of their safe counts as one point and one inside the safe counts as two points.
Players start the game with three diamonds in front of their screen and are dealt ten cards. The dealer then decides if he wants players to pass one, two or three cards to the person on their left. After that, a round begins.
There are four suits, like a regular card game, however in this game they are valued one to fifteen. The player after the dealer, start with playing a card, he leads. Then every other player plays a card. If you have them you must play a card from the suit that was led.
You win tricks by playing the highest card in that suit. When you win a trick, you can do the suit action. Suit actions concern taking diamonds. So, you can get diamonds by winning tricks. However, that’s not the only way you can do these suit actions. If you can’t follow suit, you must play a card from another suit and then you immediately have to do the action belonging to that suit.
When you win a trick of diamonds, or you played a diamond card when you couldn’t follow suit, you must take one diamond from the supply and place it behind your screen. When you win a hearts trick, you must take a diamond and place it in front of you screen. With a spades trick, you must take one diamond from the front of your screen and put it behind it. Behind your screen your diamond are safe, because when someone wins a clubs trick she can steal a diamond that is in front of a screen from another player and places it in front her own safe.
After ten turns, the player with the most cards per suit can do the suit action one last time and any player who hasn’t won a trick gets a bonus of two diamonds actions.
After a couple of rounds, the player with the most points wins the game of Diamonds.
Well almost everyone knows the basics of a trick taking game right? In Diamonds someone leads, every player must follow suit and when you can’t, you can play any other card. Highest card wins the trick. Hurray!
Because many people, gamer or not, probably played a trick taking game once in their lives, Diamonds is easily and quickly explained. The only thing people have to get used to is that they can also be very productive when they don’t win tricks.
During a round, you want to win many tricks or non at all. When you win many, you probably, in addition to the trick actions during the round, are able to do some extra actions because you have the most card of one or more suits. When you aren’t able to win many trick, you must make sure that you can’t follow suit as many times as possible. There’s nothing worse in this game than constantly have to follow suit and never winning a trick. You can’t win that way.
You also have to make sure that you can do the trick actions at the right time. If you win a trick with spades and you have no diamonds in front of your screen or a trick with clubs and all other players have no diamonds in front of their screens, you’ve pretty much wasted turn.
You have to think about that when you know you’re going to win a trick. When you know you are not going to win a trick, you can make sure that the winner has a very inefficient turn. For instance, if you can’t follow suit with spades, you can play clubs, so you can steal the last diamond in front of the player’s screen who’s going to win that trick. By playing your cards at the right time, you can manipulate the strategy of you opponents. With a regular trick taking game, good players pretty much know when they see their cards when they have to play which card. In Diamonds, other players have the ability to really mess with a player who has a great hand of cards. Like, when a player has a great set of cards, with high hearts and maybe some high spades. Then he might win every trick with these cards. However, when the other players that could not follow suit play diamond and clubs, they have all the diamonds behind their screen, plus they were able to steal all the diamonds from the ‘winning’ player.
You can see that you are constantly involved and you have to make a lot of tactical decisions during this game. With six players you always deal out all the cards. With fewer players there will always be cards that are not used. You can, however, decide to remove the 14 and 15s, in a four player game, and deal more cards to every player. In this way you know which cards are still in play during the game. If you count cards of course.
You can look all you want, but you won’t find any theme here.
The black cards look kind of classy. The black and gold, with the dark coloured backgrounds, looks very stylish. The red and transparent diamonds look great. They’re not a necessity, but they do give this game a bit of a wow factor.
Quality of the components:
As for the components, there’s nothing wrong with them either. The cards are goods, the diamonds are good too, the screens are a bit flimsy, they easily get pushed over or moved, revealing all your secrets. But, hey, what did I expect, six steal safes?
This game is fun! It’s very easy to learn and play with really anyone. That’s one of the reasons why I would recommend this game; Diamonds is a very straightforward, basic trick taking game, but it’s got just enough ‘new’ elements that it is different enough for long time gamers, but it also stays very close to the basic idea of a trick taking game that non-gamers can quickly understand how to play and enjoy it immediately.
It’s fun because there are two ways to score a lot of points and there’s a good chance that you can always do something during your turn. You can try to win many tricks or you can try to win no tricks and still do some suit actions, by not following suit at all times.
You can thwart people with the clubs suit action, but there are enough ways to prevent that. The amount of diamonds behind your screen is a secret and although you probably can guess which player has the most, it’s still can be a surprise when everyone removes their screen.
Diamonds is a fun, easy to learn, family game. A great addition to your collection if you like traditional card games or if you want to introduce a slightly different game to people who only play traditional card games or never play games at all.
The price point in combination with the easy gameplay, the components and the amount of fun, make this one a no brainer in my book. Buy it and play it until the cards fall apart.