I ran into Nora Meiners from Gamewright while strolling the exhibition hall at GAMA Expo. After she sold me on giving Sushi Roll a spin at Gen Con last year, she had nice things to say about some of our other Gamewright reviews, such as Happy City.
“Have you played Sleeping Queens? It’s a classic.”
I hadn’t even heard of Sleeping Queens, a 2005 release from Gamewright that got re-released a few years ago for its 15th anniversary. I was traveling later that day but the Sleeping Queens box was pocket-sized, so I slipped it into my carry-on and wished Nora well.
Now that I’ve played it a few times, I have to admit: Sleeping Queens is a fantastic light card game that fits on any game table and gets quality family fun into a 10-to-15-minute package.
Why have I not heard of this game before now?
Play Kings, Get Queens, Win Game
Those are essentially all of the rules to a game of Sleeping Queens.
Combining a mix of math, Memory, and some light combat with cards that play offense or defense, Sleeping Queens plays 2-5 players and can squeeze between almost any game you are going to be playing on game night.
The goal of the game is to score 50 points or possess 5 Queens with 2-3 players; with more players, you’ll only need 40 points or 4 Queens. Points all come from a set of 16 face-down cards laid out in a grid to start the game.
Those face-down cards with the green backs are Queens, and all of them are “asleep” to begin play. Ranging in value from 5-20 points, your goal is to play King cards to “awaken” one of those 16 Queens, placing that Queen face up in front of you.
Once you gather enough Queens to surpass the scoring threshold, you immediately win the game. Getting Queens is easy; keeping Queens is a little harder.
With a hand of 5 cards, players spend each turn playing at least one card. Ideally, this would be a King to take a face-down Queen, but you could also play a Knight card, which lets you steal a Queen from another player. You could also play a Potion, which would allow you to put another Queen back to sleep, in the middle of the table.
Some cards let you defend yourself; Dragons block Knights, and Wands block Potions. Other cards, numbered from 1-10, allow you to discard cards to try and get better ones. Even discarding has a formula: dump a single card, draw a single card. Discard doubles, and you get 2 draws.
Use arithmetic and you can get more. Discard the 1, 4, and 5 cards (1+4=5) and you get 3 cards. Discard the 1, 4, 5 and 10 card (1+4+5=10) and draw 4 cards!
Simple math? Turn your whole hand into solid gold. At least, that’s the idea.
Gamewright Does It Again
Games of Sleeping Queens are quick. At 3 players, we recently got 2 games done in about 15 minutes. After my wife and I played a game of The Taverns of Tiefenthal recently, we played 2 games of Sleeping Queens in less than 10 minutes total.
You could squeeze this in on one end of your table while another person sets up the heavy game for the night. You can, and should, play this with your kids. The kids can play it with their grandparents. Gamers could play it. Non-gamers could, too.
No matter who is playing, the games are always fun. The artwork is cute and bold and colorful. Kids sitting at the table will make games of Sleeping Queens slower, but more interesting.
“I’ll take that Queen, daddy!”
Smack talk with the kids? Priceless.
I’ve not tried Sleeping Queens at the full player count, only at 2 and 3 players. The change in scoring (requiring less Queens) accommodates the higher count, meaning games should remain short.
Gamewright is the premier family game publisher for my family gaming needs. Sushi Go! Party, Happy City, Forbidden Island, Outfoxed, Super Mega Lucky Box. I’ve loved them all. Sleeping Queens was published earlier than any of these other games, an indicator that I need to go deeper into Gamewright’s catalog to dig up more hidden gems!