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Inhabit Zen Gardens and Take Another Shot at Fresco, Thanks to Queen Games

W. Eric Martin
United States
North Carolina
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Board Game Publisher: Queen Games
• With the Spielwarenmesse 2020 trade fair opening in less than a week, let's check out the upcoming titles from another publisher we'll visit during that show, specifically Queen Games, which has announced a very Queen Games line-up so far, starting with Mike Georgiou's Zen Garden, this being a 2-4 player tile-laying game:
An Emperor's life is stressful and full of tough decisions. He absolutely needs a place of solace where he can relax and recover. A beautiful garden filled with paths, statues, and flora is just what he needs.

In Zen Garden, the players assume the role of architects working to build the most beautiful garden for the Emperor. To do this, they need to pay careful attention to the Emperor's preferences, while trying to stay one step ahead of the competition.

Board Game: Zen Garden

A turn in Zen Garden is simple: The first player selects one tile from the selection board, pays its cost, then adds it to their garden adjacent to a previously placed tile. Each player does this, then the board is refilled and a new starting player begins the next turn.

The game comes with five preference boards that determine which features of the garden score in that game. The boards selected (and their number) will greatly change the objectives players will strive for in that game.
I played a mock-up of Zen Garden at the Origins Game Fair in 2019, and it fit the Queen Games model to a T, with each player building their own garden and competing with one another indirectly for the tiles that fit best. In the image below, you see the tiles available on the selection board, with the bottom ones being free, the middle ones costing 1 coin, and the upper ones 2 coins. The tiles have six types of landscaping, three types of paths, and five types of sculpture, and you try to place like things together, creating paths of the same type, large matching landscapes, and sculptures from the same corner of the Home Goods store.

Board Game: Zen Garden

Board Game: Fresco
• Other titles known to be coming from Queen in 2020 were Kickstarted in 2019, so they will possibly be a surprise to anyone who doesn't follow Kickstarter, which includes me.

Fresco: MegaBox is an über-Queen release as it packs everything related to that game into a single box, then adds even more on top of that (KS link). As a starting point, this contains Fresco: Big Box, which itself contained the Fresco base game from designers Marco Ruskowski and Marcel Süßelbeck and expansions #1-10, the base game having included expansions #1-3, mind you.

In addition to the Big Box, the MegaBox contains expansions #11-14 (which will be sold separately as Fresco: Expansion Modules 11-14 with artwork to match the older base game), Fresco: The Card Game (first mentioned in 2013), and Fresco: The Dice Game (the latter two being sold on their own in one package called Fresco: The Card & Dice Game).

Fresco: MegaBox is due out in Q4 2020, and it will exist in both a Gold Edition and a Diamond Edition, with the latter featuring acrylic tiles instead of cardboard ones.

Board Game: Fresco: Mega Box

Board Game: Rune Stones: Enchanted Forest
• I had included teaser info about a second Rune Stones expansion in a mid-December 2019 post without realizing that a Kickstarter for that expansion was under way at that time. (KS link)

I'm not sure whether we can chalk that up to my cluelessness or Queen's lack of press releases, but in any case I can say that Rüdiger Dorn's Rune Stones: Enchanted Forest, due out in mid-2020, includes three copies each of eight new rune stones as well as familiars that you can move on a forest board by forgoing the power on a played card. By doing so, you can earn bonuses, gain toadstool tiles with special powers, and endgame points.
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