A few weeks ago I received a nice surprise in the mail from Button Shy Games. It was a pretty good feeling to get a surprise game in while recovering from being sick for a few weeks.

Well, I opened up the package & it turns out to be a cool new wallet game from game designer Mike Mullins. Best yet this very game is a solo game called Pentaquark. Pentaquark is a fifteen to thirty minute game for ages twelve years to adult.

Now if you are into science then you already know what a pentaquark is. If not then let me drop a little knowledge on you.

A pentaquark is a subatomic particle that is made up of four quarks & one anti-quark.

Now in Pentaquark it is the solo player’s job to create a pentaquark by collecting the proper type of quarks & putting them together. In this eighteen card game player’s will find quarks in five flavours & three colors along with three annihilation cards.


Setup for the game is very simple. The player will separate the three annihilation cards into their own stack & place them to the right of play. Then the player will shuffle the rest of the cards. However, while shuffling the cards the player will take half the stack & flip them to their reverse side as they continue to shuffle. This will form the player’s Beam Deck. The Beam deck is placed on the left of the play area.


Between to the decks (Beam & annihilation) there will form three rows of play. The top row is for Scattered Quarks. The middle row, which is next to the Beam, forms the Collider. And the bottom row is the Detector.

Each of the player’s turn will consist of two phases, Beam phase & Collider phase. A third phase, the Refresh phase, will come when the Beam deck runs out & a new turn begins.

In the Beam phase the player will draw three cards from the Beam deck & place them into the Collider. Cards that are placed in the Collider are not flipped from the Beam deck, they are placed as shown face up from the Beam deck.

In the Collider phase, the player will distribute the three cards to the other sections. One card will move to the Scatter Particles, one to the Detector, & the remaining will end up in a discard pile. If at any time there are not enough cards in the Collider, the player will skip this phase altogether.

Now at anytime during the Collider phase, the player will be able to confine free quarks into sets. Quarks that are confined in sets can also be rearranged to form new sets.

If a quark & its anti-quark is ever present together in either the Detector or in the Scattered Particles area, they are immediately annihilated. Color confining quarks in sets will prevent this annihilation of quark.

In the Refresh phase the solo player will discard all free Quarks from the Detector. The player may also discard any additional quarks, even if it breaks confinement. Any confined quarks in the Scattered area are discard. If there any free quarks left in the Scattered area, they are annihilated. At the end of the Refresh phase, the player will check for the losing condition. If the player is still able to continue everything in the discard is to be shuffled together along with one annihilate card. This forms the new Beam deck.


At any time a player may check for the win condition. The game will end immediately when a player has successfully assembled a set of five quarks in the Detector. The player will need two Up Quarks, one Down Quark, one Charm Quark, & one Anti-Charm Quark with the color confinement of red, green, blue, & any one color along with it’s anti-color.


I do love a good solo game & I have several really cool solo games from Button Shy. Thanks to all the great game designers & artists at Button Shy my solo game collection has grown. Now I’m not going to say that Pentaquark is an easy game. But I’m not going to say it is a hard game.

Just like in solitaire there is some luck in what cards show up. A player must use the same type of strategy found in any solitaire game. In each of the games that I have played I seem to have always won in the second turn. Players just have to be aware of the cards that get annihilated.

Mike Mullins did not disappoint me with this game. He worked really hard developing a very strategic, scientifically bound form of solitaire. This is another fantastic game from Mike Mullins.

I believe that anyone in the science community would have a blast matching up the various types of quarks to form a Pentaquark. Pentaquark is quite an amazing wallet game.

Right now Pentaquark can be found as a Kickstarter project here: Pentaquark: A Quantum State Solo Game. The Print in Play version is $3 while a copy of the game is just $10.

Lets look into the subatomic & game on!

-Christopher Richter

Twitter: @Boardgaming_FTW