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King’s Dilemma creators’ frantic co-op game Quicksand is like disarming a bomb against the clock, with sand timers

Short, stressful and satisfying.

A new real-time co-op game hopes to bring the time pressure and tension of disarming a bomb to a frantic party game.

The King’s Dilemma and Railroad Ink designers Hjalmar Hach and Lorenzo Silva’s Quicksand aims to replicate the feeling of disarming a trap, Indiana Jones-style, as a group of up to seven people. The small-box game can also be played solo.

Timers of varying 30, 45 and 60-second lengths are placed along a track of tiles. Each tile is decorated with a combination of a colour and a shape - such as moons, triangles or squares - that correspond to a deck of cards in the middle of the table. Three cards are dealt to each player.

To activate timers, players can play a card from their hand matching the colour or shape of tiles on which one or more timers sit. Playing a matching card flips the timers and moves them along the track - unless they’re blocked in by another timer on the next space - advancing them towards the end of the track.

To win, the players must get all of the timers past a fuse marker before all of the timers run out. If a timer runs out, it’s removed from the track and can be recovered by playing a wild card - unless it’s already past the fuse marker, in which case running out means defeat.

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Quicksand will include 21 levels of increasing difficulty, introducing both more steps and various numbers and combinations of timers, as well as additional challenges - from a ban on talking out loud and needing to hold your cards back-to-front, as in Hanabi, to removing specific shapes or colours and adding tokens that must be destroyed to advance.

During a short 10-minute demo at this year’s Gen Con, I found it to be a simple but delightfully stressful challenge, with turns quickly rotating around the table as the group shouted out the colours and shapes in their hands that might help shuffle the timers along. Later levels promise more complexity and variety, echoing the escalating missions and communication puzzle of co-op games such as The Crew.

Publisher Horrible Guild will release Quicksand at German board game convention Essen Spiel this October. The game will be followed by a mini expansion including an extra timer and 22 additional levels.

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