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Quirky Quarks

Designed by Jeremy Ramsey, Quirky Quarks is themed around quantum mechanics. It's one of the titles we brought back from last year's Spiel Essen, and it's a card game where players are spending and generating energy (ie: electron volt energy tokens, referred to as eV, that function as victory points) by acquiring the requisite combination of elementary particles to complete 'quests'.

Among the elementary particles featured in this game is the charm quark, and it and all the other quaintly named quarks, leptons and bosons add to the charm of Quirky Quarks. Most of these will be alien to the majority of those coming fresh to this game, so in that respect at least Quirky Quarks has an educational element. That said, however, the theme is really only a thin veneer on this set collection game that could just as easily have been re-presented in any one of a hundred totally different themes.

In practice, Quirky Quarks is an auction and engine-building game where 2-4 players will each round be bidding to acquire the cards displayed under the four particle accelerators (five in the four-player game). On your turn you bid in eV against just one particle accelerator but when there's competition for the same accelerator (ie: the same bundle of cards), then that raises the price. When a player drops out of the bidding in one accelerator they can bid on another, but if you place a bid and nobody beats it then that'll be your purchase for the round.

After the initial round of bidding and players have collected all the cards they've won, they are required to discard (sell for 1 eV) one card for every five they have in hand. These cards, together with those from the accelerator on which nobody bid, are up for individual sale in as separate auction, albeit with a minimum bid of 2 eV, rising by an eV after each player has bought a card. After these two auction events, players have the opportunity to complete their quest cards, which means using or discarding specific particle cards to earn the quest card's eV value and benefit from the effect or ability in its text; this can include creating particles that can be utilised in completing other quests (in effect, giving a discount on those quests). With the game played over five rounds, canny players will seek to complete quests that function as engines to help complete other more lucrative quests on consecutive rounds...

Quirky Quarks is well presented, tho' physicists may baulk at the anthropomorphic art that gives cheeky faces to each of the particles. Classing the set collection objectives as 'quests' also feels like a departure from the theme. Nonetheless, this is an enjoyable and accessible auction game that you don't need a science qualification to play. Once you've assimilated what may initially seem like science jargon terms, you'll quickly appreciate that Quirky Quarks is actually a family friendly game and one that you can realistically expect to play in around 30-40 minutes.

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