# Quarkz

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Manuel Fallmann's latest offering on his MINDistortion site is a turn-based strategy game against the CPU, or a human opponent at the same computer. The object of Quarkz is to be the first player to reach the number of points designated as the victory condition by adding particles to the play field and setting off chain reactions.

Players take turns by adding a particle to any one of the squares of the play field by clicking on it. The square then turns to that player's color and the scores are updated accordingly. For example, if Blue clicks on a Red square with two (2) particles, the number of particles for that square becomes three (3) and the square turns Blue. Furthermore, two (2) points are deducted from Red's score since the square is no longer Red's, and three (3) points are added to Blue's.

Volatility comes into play when particles of a square reach an unstable state. The number of particles that make a square unstable depends on where the square is located:

• Corner squares are unstable at three (3) particles
• Border squares are unstable at five (5) particles
• All other squares are unstable at eight (8) particles

I have included an illustration in the images above that maps each of the types of squares to their threshold for becomming unstable. If the map is not visible at present, reloading the page will eventually display it.

Once a square reaches an unstable state, clicking on it will cause a chain reaction with all squares that border it by incrementing the particles and changing their color to the player's color who caused the chain reaction

To start a game against the CPU, choose "Human vs Computer" and accept the defaults for a moderately sized game of medium difficulty. At these settings, the victory condition is 60 points, meaning the first player to reach 60 points wins the game.

Analysis: The game is simple to play once familiar with the number of particles that cause each type of square to become unstable. Since chain reactions can quickly change the course of the game, the strategic element of the game becomes very important. Unfortunately, the AI for the CPU is quite weak and therefore I recommend playing on hard difficulty once familiar with the gameplay.

The soundtrack borrows tunes from some commercial techno offerings to complement the subatomic particle theme of the game. And while the animated player graphics can sometimes get in the way while taking a turn, this is a small complaint to an otherwise polished, very playable casual game.

From the same developer who created the wonderful and addictive Bubbles game, Quarkz is a fun little game for anyone who enjoys a bit of strategy with their Flash.

Play Quarkz

Nice game, very creative, very challenging, too.

This is an interesting game, but I sure wish you could turn off the characters who serve no purpose except to obscure the board. I don't really understand why they're there.

I agree, the AI is incredibly weak. Even on hard, I'm constantly beating them by 30-40 points.

Better go find someone intelligent to play with!

Interesting and creative game - a take on Othello, I suppose.

The characters, as I agree with ACLS, are terribly annoying in obscuring the board. The other thing that should be said is that the AI isn't too strong, and the first picture of the board you had up was more informative on what the game actually looks like.

Sean - the 'first' picture of the board is actually just one of three that appear at random when the page loads. If you don't like the one you see, reload for a new one. =)

And I did say that about the AI in my review. You must have skipped over that. =)

June 23, 2005 9:31 AM

fun for a short game. it's most challenging when playing with a blank board, because neither player can get a real quick advantage right from the start.

i really like this game, and sorry if i'm an idiot...i might be making it too hard for myself...but i dont really understand how the board is divided....i.e. what constitues a "border" square...

however i think about it, theres always some exception...

help?

Craig - I created an image to illustrate which squares are what type. Reload the page until the image above shows the number "8" in the middle of image. Then, the blue squares are considered "border" squares, the red are corners, and the rest are... uh, the rest. =)

June 24, 2005 7:15 PM

If you click "Game Settings" from the Main Menu, you can deselct "Quarkz following the mouse". That stops the animated thingys obscuring the board!

Great game, although the AI is a little easy, as you say.

Great site too Jay - thanks for it!

i think the 'annoying' animated things are cute!

just thought i'd share my two cents.

Very nice game.

Altough I agree the A.I. is quite weak after a few plays, I really like this addictive game.

Thanks Jay for your great site !

what does AI stand for? i know it has to do with how smart the computer is...

Sorry, Mike. AI stands for Artificial Intelligence, and is a term applied to the programming that goes into creating an opponent controlled by the computer (or "CPU"). And you're right, it does determine how smart the computer is.

In this case, the author of the game had to create a program that determines the computer's moves when you select to play against a computer opponent. That program doesn't create a smart enough opponent to make the game much of a challenge, and as David pointed out above, this is true even when the AI is set to "hard".

June 27, 2005 10:06 PM

Ways to make the game a bit tougher
- set the game to hard
- increase the number of points
- use the smaller boards

Gr8 site Jay.

EG

This game is currently down. It can be found at this location.

March 2, 2007 4:07 AM

Well, the way to win is to make the computer pop a single critical mass atom that makes a bunch go critical that you can set off. You can do this by only hitting atoms that will make that atom go to a certain number and give you the advantage. These numbers are 1, 3, 5, and 7, in other words odd numbers, for the middle, and 2, and 4 for the outside. Only hit enemy atoms that will give you these numbers, and your score will gradually increase, while forcing the computer to either set one off that gives you a bunch of charged ones, or create new ones.

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