Mini-Review: Quintis Fontis – Can You Read Russian?
Some time ago, I had the opportunity to review The Enigma of Leonardo. To sum up, that game was… not good. I recommended a pass. But, after some further development, we now have a re-tooled version: Quintis Fontis. While containing much of the same ideas, the game seeks to address problems from the original. But is it good enough to buy?
The Basics. As with the original, the goal is to play cards down into a grid. Each card has two symbols and if any three in a row line up, a key can be gained. Changes from the original are numerous and beneficial. For example, the playing area is no longer a three by three cross (totaling five cards maximum) but instead a five by five grid. Players can play cards anywhere onto that grid.
Additionally, if you get three symbols together you get a key. But if someone else wants that same key, they now need to get four of those symbols together. Then five for the third version of the key. The game also includes five action cards which are typically “screw your neighbor” types. There are only five in the deck of 67, so they aren’t an overwhelming factor.
Another highly welcome change is the end game. The game ends either when someone collects seven keys or when the deck runs out. The worst part of the original is that the game would go on forever. Now there is a definite end time.
Despite all of these great changes, I’m left with the uncomfortable feeling that I still haven’t played the game correctly. There are a number of discrepancies in the rules. For example, the rules say to shuffle everything together and create one deck of cards from which to draw. However, the deck actually has two different card backs, seemingly for no reason. But one of the action cards refers to drawing from one or both decks. So it’s clear that either the game was printed with two decks in mind and then the rules were changed last minute, or the rules refer to an earlier version of the game before the change to two decks was made.
Additionally, the game includes a “veto” stone. When a player uses it, he places it on a card. Whatever symbols are on that card cannot be played by the next player. Does each player get to use it? Every round? Does it cost anything to place? The rules simply don’t indicate.
The Feel. Fairly “meh” with a dose of confusing. Is this a better version of the game? Absolutely! The original was an un-fun game that lasted forever. This one has a nice conclusion, gives the players more choices, and has some great moments. But the rules leave so much to be desired that I really can’t say for sure that I played the game right.
For example, the rules say that you can play over another card in the grid as long as they share one symbol. You can also replace a card on the grid if they share a symbol. Although not specifically stated in the rules, it appears that “replace” means you get to take the replaced card into your hand. The poor translation and the inconsistencies really hamper what might otherwise be an entertaining light game.
Overall: 2 of 5. Quintis Fontis is an improvement. The improvement, though, appears to be that Enigma went from a terrible game to a potential entertaining game with a poor rules translation. As is, Quintis Fontis is difficult to play and impossible to play correctly. Maybe a revised translation will come out that clarifies things, or at least a FAQ to address some of the issues. But I can’t currently recommend Quintis Fontis (which, according to Google Translate, means Thursday’s Spring) unless you are able to read the rules in the original Russian.
(A special thanks to Right Games for providing a review copy of Quintis Fontis)