Gamewright’s sequel to one of our favorite plays from last year, Sleeping Queens, arrived on my doorstep recently. The kids saw the box and eagerly opened the game.
Sleeping Queens 2: The Rescue is designed by Miranda Evarts, the same person who gave us the original. It’s a slightly different game this time around. Instead of rescuing Queens to score points and win the game, Sleeping Queens 2: The Rescue has players using Queens and cute card companions to rescue the Kings.
The gender flip is welcome. How about the game?
Math is Required
One thing remains the same between both Sleeping Queens games: you’ll still need to know some basic math to win.
Depending on player count, one player must rescue 2-4 Kings to win the game. Scattered around the table are a set of face-down cards representing companions, each with one of the game’s three color suits (green, red, blue). The draw deck includes cards numbered from 1-10, along with special action cards like gnomes, spell books and Queens. Each player is also given a Knight, representing a player power that will constantly move between other players.
On a turn, you’ll roll a six-sided die to see how many cards you will draw from the deck. After playing any one-time action cards, remaining cards are placed in your Realm—the name for the area in front of each player. If you have three or more cards, you can make an equation just like the base game. For example, if you have a one, a three, and a four in your realm, you can announce to the table that “one plus three equals four” (or “four minus one is three”, etc.) and then take a face-down companion card.
If your companion’s suit matches the suit of any of your face-up Queens, you can cash that pair in for a King card. Kings are also laid out around the table, but have no specific differences between cards. Just take a card that speaks to you and add that to your scoring pile. Unlike the original, scoring cards cannot be stolen.
Turns go around and around until someone hits the King score limit. In our experience, four-player games of Sleeping Queens 2: The Rescue take about 30 minutes.
One of the best things about the original Sleeping Queens was the ability to disrupt the scoring leader’s rhythm. Because Queen cards could always be stolen, it was a blast to see someone on the doorstep get robbed by another player who took a 20-point Queen card to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat.
Now, not all players like to build something and see it get stolen by a game effect, so I see why this change was made for the sequel. But the change means that Sleeping Queens 2: The Rescue is a little less exciting. When one player has a large lead and the other players have no Kings yet, they are a King or two away from winning and there’s not much you’ll be able to do to stop them.
Some of the Knight player powers are better than others. A player holding the Knight that grants its owner an extra card beyond the number rolled means that they will have even more cards to choose from when trying to solve equations and take companions that can win the game. In both Sleeping Queens games, more cards are better. Knights that protect against other game effects are situationally excellent, but if you don’t have any Queens who are asleep, it’s hard to see the benefit of the Knight that protects against cards that put Queens to sleep, for example.
The great thing about the Knights is that they are moving between players regularly, so no single Knight breaks the game. And while I haven’t seen it yet, it is technically possible to overcome a large scoring lead if the leader has many successive bad rolls and can’t draw many cards, or if others target that player to steal cards from them with the gnome card effects.
All of this still leaves me in the same place. Sleeping Queens 2: The Rescue is fun, but not as strong as the original; the swingy nature of the original means that all players are always in the game. Both games are quick and easy to teach, and both games are better for families than adult gaming groups. I guess it’s just a matter of preference.
Case in point? While putting the finishing touches on this review, my daughter pulled out the original game and asked to play. I think that’s gonna be the approach moving forward!