Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Sleeping Queens - now that's a game!

The folks at Gamewright sent over a package of games to review a few weeks ago. After reading the rules and examining the products I went ahead and passed them on to my crack team of game reviewing kids and waited for the feedback. As I expected Tiki Topple was well received. And, as I expected, Sleeping Queens was a huge hit. So huge in fact that the kids are reluctant to return the game because they have friends who "need" to be shown the game. Lots of friends.

Many of us grew up with classic games like Chutes and Ladders or Candyland. The strategy inherent in these games was pretty nonexistent. You rolled the dice or drew a card and generally raced to the finish line. In my experience Chutes and Ladders was played maybe once, but I still get a thrill just from looking at a Candyland board. The reason for this? The premise is so exciting it's almost beyond belief. A land... made of Candy! Everything. All Candy. Who would not long to visit Candyland? There is some game involved, but I think most children realize that Everyone wins when you visit Candyland.

Sleeping Queens operates under a similar concept. The game is so fundamentally cute and entertaining that any actual mechanics are secondary. Just for the curious, however, let's go over the game play. The game includes a set of cards illustrated with pictures of queens. Not tedious historical queens or vaguely spooky playing card queens. You get the Pancake Queen. The Cat and Dog Queens. Plus others of similar cuteness. All are placed face down in front of the players because they start the game asleep. The players then take turns playing cards and waking the queens. If you play a king card you can turn over one queen and place her, face up and awake, before you. You may guess that King Leopold of Belgium is not found in this game. Instead you get the Tie Dye King or the Bubblegum King. Players may also have knight cards in their hands. You can play a knight to "steal" a queen from another player. But that player can use a dragon card to scare away your knight. Or you may play a sleeping potion card to make another player's queen go back to sleep. Unless that player has a magic wand card in which case your potion is wasted. There are a few more rules to the system but this covers the basics. You play cards to wake queens, and attempt to steal or protect woken queens with other cards in your hand.

Until you play Sleeping Queens the appeal of the game may seem elusive. In real life experience our gang of kids found the cards to be endlessly entertaining and the concept of waking queens and then stealing them from other players great fun. I think Gamewright really hit the post in terms of creating an elegant and crowd pleasing little game. I've read some other reviews at different sites and they all agree. Certainly, Sleeping Queens is no replacement for Chess, but I plan on sending out copies to a slew of upcoming birthday kids ages seven and up.

Thanks to Gamewright for their review copy. Sleeping Queens is available in many toy and game stores in the area, I might call Henry Bear's Park or Belmont Toys.

Pros: Adorable and crowd pleasing, good for ages 7 through teen

Cons: none apparent, this game is the ultimate light fun game

Beyond the Basics: zero, but this is a basic game

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