Kulkmann's G@mebox - www.boardgame.de



Rüdiger Dorn


No. of Players:
2 - 4



Gamebox author Ralf Togler writes about the game:

In the end of the 19th century, three Lords and a lady meet in the famous Diamonds Club of London. After a heavy dispute about who is the wealthiest of the three opponents, they make a bet. Each of them shall build a glorious and huge park in one year. The one with the most glorious one wins the bet and shall henceforward be the Lord of Diamonds. This is the story for the new game of RAVENSBURGER. Admittedly I was not very impressed about this simple theme. The design of the game material however promised a modern and interesting game and so I was nonetheless anxious to learn the rules and looked forward to playing it.


Diamonds Club is a light economy simulation for 2 to 4 players. As assumed the theme is a little bit pasted on, but this is a fate the game shares with many other titles. So, let's have a look at the heart of the game - the rules.

To set up the game all players get an individual board that represents the park where the players plant wood and vivariums, build pavilions, fountains and other nice buildings. In the middle of the table a market place is placed. At the beginning only the outboards of the market are placed on the table, the goods are arranged each round newly in the middle of the market. Additionally all players start with ten coins and four different colored gems. Beginning with the start player of this round the players place markers on the start player track. Thus if a player is the start player of this round he places his marker on the zero, the next player on the one and so on. The start player track defines the start player of the next round. So for the actual start player it is more difficult to become the start player of the next round again than for his opponents. This emerges as a clever mechanism during play and ensures a good balance, because it can truly be an advantage to be the start player. The start player has a lot of advantages in the different buying phases, but to become the next player again, he has to spend a lot of money (especially in a four player game) because the fourth player starts with three points in advance on the start player track.

[IMAGE]The game is played in several rounds, until a player has cultivated his 14th field of the park. Then the actual round is brought to an end. There are always five phases in a round.

First of all the market for the round is determined. Depending on the number of the players 2 to 6 market stripes are mixed and are placed in the middle of the outboards of the market. Each stripe consists of six symbols that show the possible wares and moves a player can buy in the next phase. The limitation of the strips corresponding with the number of players makes sure that the market mechanism can be enjoyed with different numbers of players. So Diamonds Club is not only playable for two players like many other games that originally are designed for more players. In fact it is really a good two player game and can just as well be played with three and four players.

The next phase is the buying phase. Beginning with the current start player all players choose a symbol on the market and pay for this by placing one coin on the space of the market stripe. The price increases by one for every coin on a neighboring field, so the wares become more and more expensive with the time. On the one hand the players can buy equipment for digging jewels. To dig the player needs a combination of a mine, a ship and mining rights. Then there are fields to move the players marker forward on the start player track. So a player can try to become the next start player. A third possibility is to buy animal tokens for the park. These tokens are placed into the park directly. There are three different animals a player can buy and the combination of these is worth 10 victory points in the end phase. Last but not least a player can buy development points to increase his abilities. So for example a player can improve his techniques and then he gets more jewels when he trades in a combination of a mine, ship and mining rights.

[IMAGE]After the buying is done, gems are given to the player who is the first one on the start player track and the one who has spent the least money and has the most coins left.

The players then can trade in each combination of ship, mine and mining rights for gems. The number of gems is determined by the lowest value of the three wares.

Finally the players can build structures and botanicals into their parks. The costs for these must be paid with gems of the right colors and are shown on the boards of the market. Whenever a player buys one building, he places one of his markers on the corresponding field on the outboards. Another player who wants to build the same building has to spent one gem more. As you can see, it usually is a big advantage to be the start player especially in this phase.

After all players have built the buildings they want, the end of the round finally is reached. All players return their coins and the new start player (the one who leads the start player track) is determined.

As said, the game ends when a player puts a structure onto the final space of his park, and now the players add up their victory points. Each building type guarantees four points, a wood counts for as many points as the wood development scale shows (a technique that can be improved from the market), and the animals count, as already mentioned, ten points for a combination of the three. Finally there are bonus points for specific combinations of buildings and for the one who first got three or four or five buildings of the same type.

In my opinion Diamonds Club meets all criteria for a big, solid game from a publisher like RAVENSBURGER. The playing mechanism works smoothly, and although luck only plays a minor role the strategical level still is rather manageable, so that you donīt have to be a Napoleon to win the game. This is due to several options you can concentrate on to get the victory points. In fact, this gives the game a really good balance and a lot of players I know will thank RAVENBURGER for that. The game looks good enough for a modern family game, too. So everything seems to be perfect. And still, I am missing a little bit of a surprising new element in the game. Maybe this is due to the enormous number of very good new games published in the last year which has set rather high standards.

In addition, the game would have been a bit more "refreshing" if it had a more popular background story that does not seem so pasted on like the "four people meet and make a bet". To my mind this would have increased the chances to reach a larger audience, and with it some chances might have opened to become a finalist for one of the German boardgames awards.

Still I would recommend the game to everyone who looks for a good and nice entertainment for one or two hours and who plays games just by occasion. What my part is concerned Diamonds Club was one of the best family orientated games I tested on and after the SPIEL convention in Essen 2008. Nevertheless the strategically orientated players and the hardcore players better should have a try before buying the game.

And as a side-note: it is just me or do some of the people on the cover of the gamebox really look like Nicole Kidman, Sylvester Stallone and Donald Sutherland?

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Copyright © 2012 Frank Schulte-Kulkmann, Essen, Germany