Review: Diamond Quest
For a number of years I traveled to homeschool conventions every year and hosted a booth for Sonlight Curriculum. That’s where I got to know the folks at Timberdoodle. One summer, our booths were next to each other for something like four conventions in a row. We enjoyed visiting back and forth during down times, and I loved seeing the latest thinking games they had out for kids to play.
While I no longer travel to homeschool conventions, I still look forward to seeing what’s new in the Timberdoodle lineup each spring. I have several fun items to share with you in coming weeks.
Like other Smart Games, Diamond Quest is a single-player puzzle game. This one focuses on logic, visual perception, planning, problem solving, and concentration. It is recommended for ages 10 to adult (but keep reading for ideas of how to use this game with younger children).
The goal is to arrange “gems” of different colors and shapes on the board in a certain order, following clues in the challenge book.
Diamond Quest includes a game board with divots shaped to hold the gems, 13 clear plastic gem-shaped playing pieces (3 each of orange, yellow, blue, and green and 1 red), a spiral bound challenge book with a total of 80 challenges in progressively harder levels, and a clear plastic lid for the game board.
All the pieces plus the book fit under the lid which makes it nice and compact. However, it does not snap shut. It’s a great travel game but you’ll want to put a couple rubber bands around it, or slide it into a gallon-sized ziplock bag to keep it all together. (Or keep it in the box, but it’s more compact without the box.)
How to Play
I recommend starting with the Starter level just to help get a feel for the game. With Smart Games I’ll usually do the first challenge, and if it’s fairly easy, then do another 2 or 3 from the Starter level before moving on to the Junior level.
Diamond Quest involves a lot of logic, which is my favorite type of brain challenge. For that reason, I quickly worked through the Junior level and settled into the “Expert” level as my sweet spot. (That’s Level 3. There’s still the “Master” level to come, which I did attempt but soon realized I definitely did need to work through the previous level first.)
Side note: It still amuses me that the Timberdoodle ladies would always turn toward to the back of the book when challenging me to try one of their new games at conventions. Most of the time? They were too hard! I think they got a kick out of stumping me.
Just for fun, I thought I’d walk you through Challenge #42. This is at the Expert/3rd level just about halfway through the book. (There are 41 easier challenges and 38 harder ones.)
To start with, the challenge diagram shows us where to place the green square, the yellow triangle, and the blue square.
The diagram also shows us where the other green, blue, and yellow gems will go, plus one more square of undetermined color. I can deduce that one is orange, because there are only 4 squares and the other 3 will be in one of the assigned color spaces.
The other clue is that no circle can touch any other circle. The tricky thing about circles is that, counting the single red piece, there are 5 round pieces. If none of them can touch that means one needs to go in the middle with the other 4 on the far corners.
My diagram tells me the orange one belongs in the middle, and it also indicates what colors go on 3 of the far corners. So guess where the red one will go?
From there it is pretty easy to fill in the remaining empty spaces following the color placement.
Ta-da! The solution in the back of the book shows we got it right.
To be honest, when you get it right, you’ll know it. However, I find the solution comes in handy when I get stumped and need to check to see if I’m on the right track. If I discover I’m way off I’ll put the game away and try again later, after I’ve had time to forget what the solution showed.
I haven’t yet met a Smart Game I didn’t like. However, Diamond Quest is one of my favorites so far. I love that it’s an non-electronic game that helps strengthen thinking skills. The pieces are nice and chunky and I find it helpful to be able to move them around and manipulate them as I work through the puzzle.
The Diamond Quest challenges require a level of concentration and logical reasoning that might be frustrating for younger kids, but I bet they would be attracted to the sparkling jewels! I could see them being carried off for imaginative free play!
Another idea for younger ones is to turn to the solutions pages and let them arrange the jewels to match the solution, either just the colors, or both colors and shapes. You might call it the Pre-Starter level!
Middle school students up through senior citizens will find Diamond Quest a fun challenge as written. This is the kind of game I like to pull out when we are camping with friends or get together with family. Find it and other great thinking games at Timberdoodle.com.