2-4 players 30 minutes Ages 8+ Language dependency: None
Written be Guilou
Queenz is one of the last games of the prolific author Bruno Cathala. For this new game, he is accompanied byJohannes Goupy and we find the excellentVincent Dutrait adding his artistic hand. The game was released at Essen 2019 byMandoo Gamesand is distributed in France byBlackrock Games.
Queenz is a game that gives you the chance to become a Beekeeper. You will have to place your hives judiciously according to your land and plant flower beds that cover them. Each flower, as in real life, offers the possibility of producing a honey of a color but especially of different taste. The more you have the ability to diversify, the more points you will earn. But do not forget that without bees, there is no honey. This is good because you can also opt to collect and position them onto your fields. But beware, a bee too far from his hive will not give anything. Dilemma and choice are at the heart of the game.
Queenz accessibility is one of its strengths. Indeed, the rules are really very simple. Each player starts the game without a parcel of land but with three unused hives of your color and "pots" of honey representing the possible future products. Plots of land are available for purchase and positioned next to the central plateau.
The central plateau offers a square of 6x6 boxes initially covered by orchids taken at random. The flowers care of different colors (5) and can also contain or not bees (one queen or up to three workers). Around this flower garden, a meeple gardener walks from space to space depending on the flowers collected by the players. This meeple occupies an important position in the game. Indeed, you will be able to choose to recover flowers only according to its position. On your turn, you will have the choice between two actions.
The first action is one of the most important: collect flowers. You will be able to take from one to three flowers depending on the position of the gardener. Indeed, it will indicate the row available to recover the flowers. And without being paid. What a nice gardener. Because yes, taking flowers in this game, it's free. And you will be able to collect up to three. But of course, there are conditions to that.
If you choose to take only one flower, then you can take the one you want, whether or not there are bees on it.
Do you want two? Go for it. But only if there are no bees on them.
It is not enough ? Do you want three? Go because it's you, it's a gift. But, only take orchids of 3 different colors.
The flowers thus collected are stored in the personal reserve of the player. Attention, this reserve contains only six places. And when there are no more places ... you can not take flowers anymore. Gluttony has its limits and waste is not tolerated. The gardener then moves as many boxes as flowers taken by the player.
As you can guess, the central plateau will empty little by little. It will become more and more difficult to recover the desired flowers and especially the desired number. Especially since the flowers take time to grow, they are not replaced immediately. First come, first served. This will also play a role in choosing to take one to three flowers so as not to give too much opportunity to his opponent.
The other possible action is the construction or enlargement of his field. It could not be easier. The player takes one of the land tiles available for purchase. It's always free ... If it's your first tile, you simply place it in front of you. Otherwise, it must be added adjacent to existing tiles. Here too, there is a constraint. The tile chosen, once placed, must be filled with flowers from your reserve and possibly a hive. No empty spaces.
If by the time you finish placing your pieces, you have an area with at least two adjacent orchids of the same color on your land, then you produce honey of that color. Take your "honey pot" pawn of the corresponding color and place it on your personal tray. If you have all the pots of all colors, then you receive a distinction in the form of a bonus points. Be aware, the faster you are, the more points you will have (these diminish over time).
Now that you have placed your new land, it is time to see if it brings you something. If you manage to create areas of the same color, or if you enlarge an area already present on other tiles with at least two more flowers (of course with the same color), you will gain one point per flower belonging to these areas.
To note a small exception which I did not speak to you for the moment. When choosing to retrieve orchids from the gardener. You can take a flower with bees on it. If there are several, they will count at the end of the game depending on their promiscuity with a hive (pollen, honey production all that stuff). Queens work a little differently. Indeed, they allow to act immediately their taking of the garden. You then have permission to replace one of your flowers already laid by the one with the queen on it. The removed orchid returns to your reserve and the queen settles on your field. This ability is sometimes handy for increasing the connection of a colored area or for getting closer to a hive.
The end of the game occurs when a player places his fifth land tile in their playing area. The opponents of this player can then bloom a last field without the necessity of it being filled. The last chance to make points.
At the end of the game, we move to the count up of end points. First of all, look at the points earned during the game. Then add the end-of-game bonus points.
First the points indicated on the diversity of production token. You know it's the token gained during the game thanks to your honeys of five colors (yes, this was easy). These points range from ten for the fastest, to two for the slowest. Without necessarily making a big difference, it can still affect the final score.
Then you’ll review your hives. Hives that have attracted bees will earn you points. A good beekeeper knows how to take care of his workers. Each player will earn one point for each bee on their eight adjacent squares. Eight boxes, eight possible points, three hives, so it can go up to 24 boxes so 24 points. Not so bad is not it? For the most skeptical so far, you now see the interest of the capacity of the queens? It's a score that can make a clear difference. Especially if others have focused on the immediate points of color areas.
There you go. The one with the most points is judged by an incredible assembly of beekeeper recognized in the middle, as having achieved the best honeys and thus wins the game. Youpi! Hooray! Bravo!
The great strength of Queenz is its ease of access. Short rules, limited possibilities, the kind of game that allows you to dive directly into the game without resifting through the bow for the rules. This type of game is perfect for casual players who sees it as a present challenge and a possibility to play without taking the lead. It is true that the parts are nice.
The game is in tune with the times. In other words, simple rules but with a relative depth and a reduced playing time (count less than 30 minutes when you start to know the game). Despite the number of restricted actions (two), the number of possibilities and play patterns are quite important. This allows replayability and satisfy the players who are keen on this type of game. The game also has a variant to "complicate" the game adding a new bonus flower. An accessory, but nice.
Another strong point, it is possible to play 2 to 4 players, and it works well in all configurations. Said like that everything seems to work like clockwork, and we are far from having hives "buzzy" ... and yet. Honey may not be as good as wanted.
My first concern, that's why I’ll start with it, because in reality this is not one for many players, because of the theme. Or rather, it’s absence. It should not be hidden, and it appears very quickly, Queenz is actually a disguised abstract game. The idea of the hive, the honey, the bees, the flowers ... all that is superficial. You could definitely replace all that with something else and it would work just as well.
Let's move on to less forgivable things: the overall quality of the material. Unfortunately, the game is far from irreproachable. One oscillates between hot and cold during the depunching. While the flower tokens are correct, the field tiles and the trays (individual or central) are very thin and a lot of tiles of land do not fit together properly. It's nerdy when we want to make a nice display on the table. The size of the score pieces is also disturbing. These are slightly larger than the boxes of the dots. Which is ultimately quite impractical especially if you play four. Frankly, we remain in the field of non-crippling and that does not prevent us from having fun, but this lack of finish is regrettable. To be forgiven (?), You have Queenz token in quantity. There, I confess I have not yet understood their usefulness.
In terms of gameplay, the game actually offers a lot of possibilities. But finally these possibilities can be summed up in two main axes of scoring : to leave the fastest on the diversity and the bees (thus seeking to accelerate the game) or to realize larger areas of the same color. After several games, we found ourselves limited in these two ways of scoring points. For the general public, this feeling will certainly not appear, but for most players, you will see there a possible limit to playfulness. A limit that necessarily negatively affects the replayability and willingness to return to it.
Finally, focusing on the illustrations, we are starved on this front too. Normally, I really like the work of Vincent Dutrait. In addition to being one of the most prolific board game illustrators, he is above all a person with great talent and in many ways. On the other hand here, outside the box, I had a sense of "minimum union" for the rest of the material. It's colorful, it's not devoid of interest, it's visible (even if the flowers are very similar) but, at the same time, it's relatively "cold". Finally, one could even say that it is abstract as are the mechanisms. A sensation difficult to explain but, visually, the game will not remain in the annals. However, I am fully aware that art is purely subjective and I do not doubt that others will find this game superb.
Very inspired games likePatchwork or the series ofCottage Garden, Queenz finally fails to offer enough originality to win. The proposed mechanisms are known and without real risk taking, even if effective for those who love this style of play, it remains a simple game to access with pleasant mechanisms, and for optimization accessible. It will easily find a place in the family toy libraries. Far from being demanding, it will offer you a certain challenge and will entertain you, but for a short period.
Technical note 7/10 Some technical errors that unfortunately ruin the experience. The game is simple, the rule more or less well written. Once understood, no reread needed. It's colorful, visually clean but maybe the whole lacks a bit of soul.
My score BGG 6/10 (An ok game, to play from time to time if it is proposed to me) A game that unfortunately offers nothing original, but based on proven and recognized mechanisms. A game in the format intended for the family audience or higher. In this context, the game works pretty well, to discover the optimization. Before moving on to something more solid ...
Combined score of 6.5 / 10 And now, it's up to you to play ...
2 player 10 - 25 minutes Ages 7 + Language dependent : no
Written by Guilou
Released in 2008 was a small game called Papering Duel from Mandoo Games. You do not know this publisher? Who are they... Well, they are a Korean publishing house best known in Asia. But back here, especially through its presence in Essen, we are able to talk about them little by little. Most of their productions have themes, components or quite original mechanics. Papering Duel is no exception to the rule.
This is a game from Martin Nedergaard Andersen (I already told you about him and his Hippo game). What acts as illustrations is due toAgsty Im. Papering Duel is an abstract sheet placement game for two players (yes, there is the word duel in it).
The first thing that catches the eye is the components. Everything fits in a box of rather moderate size. You play from outside the box to inside this box. What acts as the game board is a cardboard sheet, that is thermoformed ideally. Each player will then have a deck of cards. But these are not normal cards. It is rather small sheets of transparent plastic. These sheets are divided into four squares of identical sizes. On these squares, there will be two full boxes and two empty ones. Some boxes will have symbols (dots, a square or a kind of star) and others will have colors (yellow, red or purple). Each symbol is accompanied by a color and vice versa. Do you follow?
The basic principle is that each player has a unique deck. A player will have a deck with filled boxes diagonally place while the other players has adjacent ones. The central plateau represents a grid of nine squares. Players will alternately place their cards on this main grid to perform tricks to win the game.
In turn, a player has the right to play one to three cards from their hand. The goal is to make combinations of three patterns either by the same symbol or the same color. If they do both, it validates two goals. Not bad, huh! Once the cards are played, you’ll check that the player has completed at least one of the objectives and that their opponent no longer has one. To help find your way around, there is a small cardboard tray next to the game. On this board, players announce current goals filled with small chips (black or white). This silly pest is quickly very practical but requires a little manipulation.
Players will superimpose their cards as the game progresses. This mechanism is visually quite attractive and is reminiscent of other games like Gloom or Edge Of Darkness (to name a few). But very quickly, everything can become a bit confusing, especially if an area has not been covered for a few turns.
But what is the purpose of this pile of cards on top of each other? The most noble way to win is to achieve three combinations in a turn. Immediate victory. Nothing to say again. That's class and something you can brag about it. But there are other ways to lose. You can also win if your opponent can not remove your current combinations during their turn or if they can not make a combination. And that's as simple as that.
Indeed Papering Duel is not a complicated game. There is also a variant with a few more cards for each player. These cards have gray boxes. These new colors allow you to add a new way to lose or trap your opponent. Indeed, if one of the players does not manage to cover a gray box of their opponent, they win.
Papering Duel is a little abstract puzzle game that works on the principle of associations of colors or shapes. A bit like Connect 4, but more thoughtful (not necessarily more complicated). Concretely, we’ll say it like this: “I play my cards... You play on top of mine... You pay attention and you're lucky... You do not pay attention *Bang* I have you trapped!” The games play quickly enough and everything can easily be transported and played everywhere. The game offers a cerebral challenge that can satisfy fans of the genre. On the other hand, do not look for a possible theme or to live a story. You’ll be facing a pure abstract game.
The challenge side is quite interesting and the initial postulate can give the impression of a very calculating game. But very quickly, one realizes that there are some elements which come to invalidate this sensation.
Already, luck is important. The cards are mixed and drawn in a completely random way. For an abstract game based on the anticipation of plays on several turns, this can be problematic. And at the same time, it allows a family audience to find their feet and play it without thinking too much.
Indeed, some might argue that for random drawing, but players have a hand of three cards. Except that the fact of being able to play all three in the same turn, lessened the strategy side of the game and favors the chance of the good hand. Again, this allows a family audience to have fun but can disappoint the player in search of cerebral challenge.
The game runs smoothly. After playing it several times, I think it's hard to define it’s real target audience. A bit too risky for fans of abstract games, too abstract for players in search of stories, too punitive for a truly family audience ... All that rests are the players who like to rack their heads but not too much, those who love games not too long but with a present challenge, the fans of the games with a beautiful components. As such, Papering Duel can satisfy their curiosity and their desires.
Far from being a bad game, it remains pleasant to play. However, we can ask the question about the long-term life. However, the part time coupled with a relatively short installation time allows to play quickly without taking the lead. Especially since the interaction is ubiquitous. No time to watch flies fly. You will have to pay attention to what the other person is doing at the risk of losing in style. Far from being frustrating, the game is relatively simple to access while having a certain depth. And finally, is this not the most important? Take pleasure in playing and work that little brain while having fun ... A game that will, without hesitation, find its place in some toy libraries without imposing itself as inevitable. But after all, was it its goal?
Technical note 8/10 The component quality is good. Thermoforming is well considered for both storage and playability. The cards are nice and the overlay side works well. Everything happens inside the box. There is an hourglass present in the box but no explanation of its use (Cooking eggs? Playing in Blitz mode? Time storage?). The rules are well written and you do not have to go back.
My score BGG 5/10 (Average game, will not please everyone) I’m still a little hungry after this game. Not unpleasant to play, it will not leave you an unforgettable memory either. There is a part of this game that will satisfy you, while you play, but will not have this little taste to come back. Too random for the big abstract players, a tiny bit punitive for casual players, it has however pleasant material and ease of access.
Combined score of 6.5 / 10 And now it's up to you to play ...