Legacy-style games are on the rise; games that make permanent changes as you play, from unzipping new components, uncovering secrets hidden in double-layered boards and adding stickers to cards, tiles, boards, and rulebooks.
Queensdale is one such hot new game from the designers of the EXIT series – no strangers to tearing up cards and permanent effects. It’s a competitive game, putting players in the feet of local nobles who are trying to build up and restore Queensdale to honor the queen who has fallen ill.
The game is driven by a dice-placement system. Each player has 5 dice which depict a few resources and the letter ‘A’ for Action. Resolving one die at a time, players can claim the resource depicted or resolve an action using the A or by paying the matching resource on a die.
Things start small and simple, with a few basic goals to earn points. You’ve got a little dude you can send out to collect herbs, but only the ones you “know” about, which provide bonus resources or points. You can build huts to learn about more herbs, and each hut is worth a point. You can get some food and hand it out to your people, increasing their happiness, which can earn you points or activate your buildings. And of course you can spend your resources to build buildings, which become a permanent part of the landscape by replacing inset grass hex tiles (store the game carefully!).
As you play, a plot will begin to unfold about the kingdom. Your goals will change, and the tools you use to accomplish them will advance. You’ll start the game with buildings in place, and you can earn prestige with which you can upgrade your player board, add stickers onto your dice, and more.
A few unique features of this game stood out to me. For one, as a game balance, if you win a game (first by getting to 10 points) your goal for the next game will be a higher number of points. Of course you will have gained more ways of earning resources and gaining points faster, but it ensures that no one can snowball by winning the first few games and then becoming unbeatable.
Also, while you can gain new features on your board and dice, you don’t always know what things mean until after you add them. Presumably nothing becomes a horrible detriment, but who knows – these things may lead you down unexpected paths or unlock new challenges as well as providing new tools.
One last unique feature – one aspect of the game is a Seer, who can see the future. How that plays out mechanically is that you can earn ways to look at the next card of the Clairvoyance deck. This provides public information to the group and a bit of private information to the player who gets the card – clues about the future of the plot, where it might go, and some suggestions on how to be ready for it.
But, from my understanding, things aren’t 100% set in stone. The future is moldable, and branching storylines mean you won’t see everything the game has to offer – and that’s pretty exciting to me. Sure, it’d be cool to see everything over the course of the game, but the ability to shape what happens and not just be dragged along for the ride entices me to play. I’m not usually excited about Euro games about economics and resource collection, but the legacy elements are so intriguing that I really hope I get to dive into this game someday.