Diamonds is a trick-taking card game in which each player tries to secure as many diamonds in their vault as possible. What sets this game apart from a standard card game are the nice plastic diamond components. Also, even if you cannot follow suit (trump), you can still potentially gain diamonds in your vault or showroom. This keeps everyone involved regardless of the hand you’re dealt.
In a standard game, each player is dealt 10 cards (there are additional variations that you can play depending on number of players), a suit action reference card, a fold-out vault, and 3 white diamonds in front of their vault. Diamonds in front of vaults are considered in the “showroom” and are fair game for other players to steal. Diamonds placed behind players’ vaults cannot be stolen and are consider safe. A general pool of white and red diamonds is then placed in the center of the table where all players can reach them.
The first player can then choose up to 3 cards to pass to the next player. That player must choose the same number cards to pass to the next player prior to looking at the ones they just received. Once cards are passed, the starting player plays their first card, which is now considered trump for that hand. Any players with trump must follow the same suit. The player who plays the highest trump card receives those cards and the action of the trump suit.
Suit actions are outlined on reference card that each player receives. Diamonds are the most powerful (as the name of the game implies), they let you take a diamond from the collection pool and place it directly into your vault. Hearts let you take a diamond from the collection pool and place it in your showroom, Spades let you move a diamond from your showroom into you vault, and Clubs allow you to steal a diamond from an opponent’s showroom and place it into yours.
If you are unable to play trump and follow the leading suit, you can play any card of your choice. Doing this allows you to immediately take the action associated with that suit. This is when the strategy really comes into play. Trying to figure out the best times to play the best suits based on what is available in showrooms and what was played as trump.
Once all of the cards have been played, players count the total of each suit they have won in that round. Whoever has the most of a suit takes an additional action of that suit. If a player didn’t take any tricks that round, they get to take a diamond action by default.
The number of rounds played depends on the number of players (e.g. a 2 player game plays 4 rounds). Once all of the rounds have been completed, players count diamonds. Any diamonds in a showroom are valued as 1 diamond a piece and diamonds in vaults count as 2 diamonds each. Players may trade in 5 white diamonds for 1 red diamond to make counting a bit easier.
Overall, this is a great twist on a classic trick-taking card game. The added components and familiar gameplay is welcoming enough to draw the attention of non-hobby gamers. It’s a light filler game and great when you just want to play something that’s quick and easy to setup. The components are well-made and the price point makes it easy to check out on a whim.