Oh, no! A mysterious potion has put all of the queens to sleep. And for some reason, rather than enjoy the peace and quiet(!), you must find the kings, who are the only ones able to wake the slumbering highnesses. But do it quickly! The player with the most queens wins, so you may have to steal a fair lady or two from others, or use potions of your own to send them back off to dreamland. Hmpf! Royalty. How typical.
How it Works
Sleeping Queens is a light, “hidden,” fishing card game. While the tableau cards are typically face-up in a traditional fishing game (like Casino or Scopa), this fun, little game begins with all of the queens facedown, adding a guessing and memory element. Also, there is some basic math and a smattering of spite.
The deck consists of queens (facedown on the table), kings, knights, dragons, potions, wands, jesters, and numbered cards. On your turn, you may either play a card and/or draw new cards. Kings allow you to wake one of the sleeping queens which you then lay in front of you. Knights can steal a queen from another player, but a dragon can be played to defeat the knight. (No, that is not a misprint – in a fun twist, knights steal and dragons protect!) Potions can put a queen back to sleep (who is returned facedown to the tableau), but a wand can fend off the potion. Jesters can wake a queen for a random player, so play one at your own risk!
Your hand will always consist of 5 cards before and after you play. If you cannot play one of the above action cards, you can discard one or more numbered cards to draw an equal amount from the deck. You can always trade one-for-one. But if you have a pair, you can discard both to draw 2 new cards. Better yet, if you can make an addition equation with 3 or more cards, then you may discard them all and draw an equivalent number (so you can discard a ‘2,’ ‘5,’ and ‘7,’ for example, to draw three new cards).
Each queen has a value of 5, 10, 15, or 20 – plus there are a couple of special rules that apply to a few of them which adds some quirkiness. The winner is the first to wake (or take) a certain number of queens or, if sooner, a particular combined value (5 queens or 50 points in a 2-3 player game, or 4 queens or 40 points with 4-5 players).
Sleep in, or Rise and Shine?
There is much to recommend this game for kids. The math element, both in discarding/drawing and in counting victory points, is useful in teaching very young kids numbers and basic addition. There is a bit of a memory factor as queens are put back to sleep on the table. And the spite mechanic can actually be instructive. Sure, the knight and potion cards may cause some hurt feelings among really young or sensitive kids. But it is also benign enough to use as an opportunity to teach them about this common aspect to many hobby games. Plus, kids delight in stealing a queen right out from underneath their parents’ noses.
There is a cool story how 6-year old Miranda Evarts thought of this game one night when she had trouble sleeping. She talked with her family the next day, who all pitched in to help flesh out her vision and design this imaginative card game. So while a mention of theme would probably be a bit overstated with such a simplistic premise (it’s there and it isn’t), I can think of one positive it may engender. Many gamers frequently discuss the hobby’s higher ratio of males vs. females and, therefore, ways to maybe attract more of the latter. While not its purpose by any means, this title’s theme will attract little girls, perhaps providing that relevant “hook” to introduce them to gaming?
The box’s age rating is listed as 8 and over, but I have no problems recommending it for even younger ones. My (almost) 5-year old daughter easily grasps the game. She recognizes obvious plays, remembers better than me where the high-point queens are when put back to sleep, and gets quite excited when a Jester is played. The only component she struggles with is the addition equations – but this title provides a fun way to teach her and she is already learning as she goes. First-graders (ages 6 and 7) should already be up to speed.
While offering nothing for serious, hobby gamers, this dreamy and whimsical title is a wonderful kid’s game – girls especially, but also boys. It may not be deep and extremely engaging, but its simple rules and ease of play are perfectly accessible for children. The wistful art is beautiful and eye-catching. It is a quick game and scales well for anywhere between 2-5 players. As a card game, it is inexpensive, a good value, and not hard to find. There is even a learning element, to boot! For families with younger children, Sleeping Queens is at the top of Gamewright’s line.