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Greg Schloesser
United States
Jefferson City
TN
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With the arrival of Joey and the departure of Jerry, we had 8 gamers and
divided into two tables. I was anxious to give this new Queen game its
inaugural playing and was joined by Lenny, Spouey and Joey.

The game is designed by Ralf Burkert, a name with which I am not
familiar. If this is his first effort, then he is to be applauded.
Although it does take a bit to comprehend the various mechanics and how
everything melds together, the game is quite fun, challenging and
tense. It has a certain 'puzzle-like' feel to it, especially in regards
to the ever-shifting land tiles. I kept getting the feeling I was
playing one of those children's slide puzzles where you have to move the
little squares in just the right sequence in order to form the pattern
you desire.

Each player represents a wizard attempting to collect amulets from
around the magic land of Pangea. To assist in this task, each wizard
has a group of minions he will dispatch across the land to secure these
amulets and produce the goods required to pay for them. With each
amulet acquired, the wizard's power grows and he is able to manipulate
the land to his desires, plus call new minions to do his bidding. The
first player to acquire 5 amulets will rule the land. Victory can also
be achieved by acquiring 4 amulets and possessing ten 'goods', or by
possessing 3 amulets and 20 goods.

For such a small-size game, which comes in the new, shoe-box sized game
box, there are a considerable amount of factors to consider, each of
which are intertwined. As one of our gamers put it, "There's a lot
going on here!". Learning how everything interacts and flows is the
most difficult part of the game.

The board depicts 26 water squares, upon which 15 land tiles are
placed. The land tiles depict various types of terrain, including
mountains, grasslands, moors, woods and deserts. Unlike most games, the
terrain doesn't affect movement, but it does present restrictions in
regards to which minions can produce goods there. You see, each player
has 8 minions and each of these minion is 'home' in a particular type of
terrain. They can only produce goods if they are located in that type
of terrain. Further, each tile illustrates the type of amulet which can
be purchased there, but ONLY if there is a minion who is producing goods
on that site. A player must have amulets of DIFFERENT types in order to
achieve victory.

But it the game isn't as easy as moving one of your minions to their
'home' terrain and having them produce goods and amulets. No, it's more
intricate and tricky than that. You see, you can only purchase amulets
from opponent's minions who are actively producing goods! So, some of
your minions must be dedicated to producing the goods necessary to
purchase amulets, while other minions must be assigned the task of
scurrying across the land to purchase amulets and return them to your
tower. It's this balancing act that proves most interesting and
challenging.

The game begins with each wizard placing his tower on one of the terrain
tiles. Each player then randomly draws three minions from his cloth bag
(a nice, quality touch) and places them with the tower. Play then
begins.

The turn sequence is straight-forward and fairly quick. The only real
delay in the game is when players contemplate how to best use their
spells. After removing their 'magic' token, which was placed near the
end of the previous round, a player may then cast a number of 'spells'
equal to the number of amulets they possess (they can always cast one
spell event if they don't own an amulet). These spells can be of the
following variety:

1) Add one minion to your tribe. Simply reach into your cloth bag and
remove one counter at random. Since each player has a mixture of
counters, each with a different 'home' terrain, often you will not get
the type of minion you would have preferred. This may be frustrating,
but it also forces you to adapt your strategies and plans accordingly.

2) Move one Terrain tile. This is the 'puzzle' aspect I spoke of
earlier. You are allowed to shift a terrain tile to an adjacent space,
even if it contains tokens and/or a tower! Further, the board 'wraps'
(sort of like a mini-globe), so one can suddenly find some of his
minions on the complete opposite side of the board! Once a player
accumulates a few amulets, this aspect of the game allows for some very
clever play as a player can shift several terrain tiles and drastically
alter the composition of the board.

3) Add 1 neutral tribe. No matter the number of players, there is
always one neutral tribe. Like players, this neutral tribe begins the
game with a tower and three minions. This action allows a player to add
new minions to the neutral tribe in the same fashion as explained in #1
above.

4) Move 1 neutral tribe. Neutral minions can be moved about the board
in order to be put to work. These minions do not produce goods, but
will sell amulets if they are located in their home terrain. So, by
using this spell, you can often move a minion to a desirable location
and purchase a quick amulet from him. Of course, your opponents will
also be able to take advantage of this, so it is wise to only use this
power when the minion is located far away from your opponents so that
only you will be able to reap the benefits.

After casting spells, a player may then move all of his minions, if
desired, up to one space. Again, remember that the board 'wraps', so it
is possible to jump to the opposite side of the board provided there is
a land space located there. Minions cannot traverse water ... only
land. This, too, is a challenging aspect of the game as you must divide
your minions carefully between the production of goods, which are
required to purchase amulets, and the task of buying amulets and
returning them to your tower. Also, when a minion is producing goods
for you, that also means he is available to your opponents as a source
of amulets. Kind of a "good thing, bad thing" situation.

After movement of minions is completed, the player may purchase
amulets. However, there are several factors which must be met in order
for a purchase to be completed. First, one of your minions who is not
already carrying an amulet must be present in a terrain tile wherein an
opponent's minion is in his native terrain and is producing goods.
Remember, you cannot purchase amulets from your own minions. Second,
you must not already possess the type of amulet produced by that
particular terrain tile. Finally, you must have the necessary quantity
of goods available to purchase the amulet. Goods are not cultivated
until the phase AFTER the purchase of amulets. A player may purchase
numerous amulets from different tiles on a turn provided he meets all of
the above qualifications.

If all of these conditions are met, you can purchase an amulet on that
tile. You take the appropriate amulet and place it upon your minion.
There are five different types of amulets ... ... yellow stars, green
clovers ... oh, no ... wait. Sorry. They are circles, starts, moons,
triangles and squares, but they are all black. I guess you could use
Lucky Charms marshmallows, but they'd probably be a bit sticky and
messy.

At this point, all of a player's minions who are in their native home
terrain and NOT carrying an amulet produce goods ... one per tile. A
further consideration, however, is that each tile has a population
limit, which varies tile-by-tile. If this population limit is exceeded,
NO goods are produced on that tile. Armed with this knowledge, it is a
particularly nasty and effective ploy to send minions into those areas
occupied by your opponents and overpopulate that tile. This negates any
goods production there until the population is reduced. Nasty.

Produced goods are marked on a player's handy mat, which also includes
other useful information, including a Game Sequence chart. This chart
is in German, but a handy English translation, which is formatted to cut
and paste, is available on the Boardgame Geek site. The mat also stores
the player's amulets and lists the mix of minions a player has
available.

The final phase in a player's turn is to place his magic token. This
token effectively 'freezes' a space, meaning that tile cannot be shifted
or, if placed on a sea space, a tile may not be moved onto or over that
location. This tile remains for one full turn, which often causes grief
and havoc amongst your opponents. Another nice and nasty touch.

The game continues in this fashion, with each person executing the
phases listed, until one of the three possible victory conditions are
met. Once a player achieves one of the victory conditions, the round is
completed and the player who achieved the highest victory condition
level is victorious. Any ties are broken in favor of the player
possessing the most goods.

I've only played once so far, but thoroughly enjoyed the experience.
Truth-be-told, I felt extremely challenged and struggled to balance all
of the various factors present in the game. There were so many things
to watch out for that I often felt I had overlooked various
possibilities or opportunities. Further playings will undoubtedly
improve my skills, but my initial impression is that the game is
designed to present the players with these multitude of dilemmas. I,
for one, am happy it does and am looking forward to further challenges.

Our game started fast, with players sending minions out to their native
terrain and on quests to purchase amulets. Lenny was the first to get
an amulet home, but the 'perceived' leader label transferred back and
forth between us throughout the game. Spouey came dangerously close
when he acquired his fourth amulet, but his good production was at
zero. I had been the victim of an ever-shifting home territory, making
it difficult for my minions to return amulets to my tower in a timely
fashion. Joey actually had the opportunity to win, but overlooked the
chance to purchase his fourth amulet from one of Lenny's minions who was
located in the same territory as his tower! This oversight allowed
Lenny to get home his fourth amulet and claim the victory with 10 goods
in his bank.

Finals:

Lenny: 4 amulets, 10 goods
Spouey: 4 amulets, 5 goods
Joey: 3 amulets, 14 goods
Greg: 3 amulets, 9 goods

Ratings: Joey 7.5, Greg 7.5, Spouey 7, Lenny 6

I had read previous reports on the game indicating that it played in
about an hour. I was a bit dubious, but our game clocked in at
approximately the same time frame. Excellent!

 
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