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Subject: Be A Man [with 2-player opinion] rss

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cvlw Lebron
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From the folks who brought you Citadels – a game set in a fantastical kingdom where persons of extraordinary powers are able to sabotage your designs (sometimes violently) – and Shadows Over Camelot – a medieval mystery game utilizing the Knights of the Roundtable theme (those manly men of yore) comes a game about…collecting jewels to make the queen an exquisite necklace. Right. Some may shun this game’s “lady-like” theme, and, moreover, balk at the necklace that comes packaged with instructions to don said necklace when holding the appropriate card. But, I am here to tell you that real men play Queen’s Necklace.

Queen’s necklace is a card game that relies on set management. The player with the most amount of points at the end of the game, surprisingly, wins. However, it is not as simple as all that – along the way the market for certain jewels will fluctuate given the shifting, random rarity values each scoring round. Additionally, there’s a little Guillotine (one of our favorite card games) thrown in in the form of influence cards (various kinds of characters) that are able to shift the demand for certain jewels, steal cards from your stash, and even, through the propitious use of alchemy, turn some stones into others at the last moment. In all, players will find playing Queen’s Necklace quick and fun enough to get on the table before the “heavy stuff” comes out, but strategic enough to pay it attention as your turn approaches.

The mechanics for Queen’s Necklace are simple enough: on each turn, players may play an influence card and then spend up to ten ducats to purchase cards on the table. This may not sound like much until some of the design enters the picture. Though players are initially dealt four cards, the goal is to amass enough jewels of a type, and hopefully across more than one type to have a shot at scoring well. Here’s how the game works.

There are four jewels: diamonds, rubies, emeralds, and amber. There are four fashion values – these are the values indicating which jewels are most sought after. The values are laid out sequentially. However, the four jewel tiles are shuffled and laid out randomly. This bit of randomness introduces a nice element of strategy as you will want to have your eye out for the most desired jewel of the season. But, two factors may throw a wrench into your plans. First, influence cards such as Favorite players to move their preferred jewel to the front, in effect increasing its market desirability. Second, there’s the effect of random rarity values. Three merchants are placed in the deck, separated by a third of the cards. When each of these merchants is drawn, players must commit to sell one, some, or no jewels. However, it is not until after your have revealed your stash that the rarity values are assigned. Admittedly, this may not please everyone as a well played strategy might be undermined. However, if one plays this game in the spirit of accepting luck into a game, then this ought pose no problem. Another way to view it is that the mechanic captures the fickleness of high society and its spurious covetousness.

Another aspect of the design that we appreciate is the fact that cards in the market change in value from turn to turn. There are five card always on display; along the upper right edge of the cards are five values, varying depending on the card. All cards begin at their highest value indicated by a small ring meant to highlight which value the card has that turn. For example, a single amber might have the values 6-4-2-1-0. If you buy this amber card on the first turn, you will “pay” six of your ducats. Let’s say this is the end of your turn, what happens is that the price rings, let’s call them, are all lowered by one and the new replacement card is brought in at its highest value. In effect, your purchase cheapens the remaining wares for the next player. Hence, part of your strategy will be to constantly balance getting that banker card at full price (which allows you to add a value of ten ducats to every jewel sold – not bad) while possibly allowing your opponent to get two or even three cards for a very cheap price.

The scoring in Queen’s Necklace is a sensible affair. At its most basic level, players reveal what hands they intend to put up for sale. The person with the most of a jewel (let’s say 12 diamonds to 2) is said to sell one of that jewel. That jewel’s value is determined, as noted above, by how in demand it is in addition to what rarity value it is assigned. But there are ways to augment these values. If you play a ring card with a jewel you have the majority of, you will be considered to have sold two of that jewel kind. If you play the banker, each sale is increased by a value of ten. Let’s say you are badly beaten in rubies but are only short one diamond to at least tie the leader, the Alchemist card allows you to “transform” your ruby into a diamond. It might even put you over if you transform a card depicting multiples of that jewel (cards come in various denominations). The only restriction is that amber may not be transformed into any other jewel and no other jewel may be transformed into amber. Last, there’s the title card of the game. Hell hath no wrath like that of a queen – you may play a king card which effectively negates the sale of any jewel of your choice. If your Queen’s Necklace card is attached to the jewel that is being blocked, not only can you still sell it, but now the kind loses 50 points, and you gain fifty.

We play Queen’s Necklace as a 2-player affair with the following variant: http://www.boardgamegeek.com/thread/62436. It works very well. Unlike some of our other 2-player favorites, like Ra, Queen’s Necklace rarely ends close, but there are startling come backs when certain card combinations are played. In the end, this is a fun, light-hearted game that deserves your attention. It won’t replace Goa at the top of your list but it, uhm, shines in its own way.

-c-
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    Another review singing the praises of this game and yet it remains far more obscure and under-appreciated than many of its peers.

    To some extent I think it suffers from a "neither fish nor fowl" syndrome in that it is very much a card game that functions as a board game. That may be why I enjoy Queen's Necklace so much, as I was a die-hard card player in my youth.

    In my opinion Queen's Necklace is an excellent gateway game, although I may be the only human on Earth saying that. If you know a girl that's about to turn sixteen, this would be the perfe . . . ok, a new Camry would be the perfect gift. But if you can't afford a Camry, this would be an excellent second choice.

             Sag.

    P.S. Thank you for the pointer to the two-player variant, as I had missed it both here and at DoW. This is an excellent recommendation for me as I often play two-player with my daughter.

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Dana More
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Quote:
Another review singing the praises of this game and yet it remains far more obscure and under-appreciated than many of its peers.


While very few players are logging plays here at the geek, apparently a lot of people are buying it. I've noticed this game has consistently been in the top 10 best sellers on funagain's website for months.

I think it plays really well with three.
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    FunAgain has used QN as a promotional tool -- it's included at a reduced price if you order another game. A quick check shows it's $10 now. This is a good thing in my opinion as the game is a steal at $10, but does skew their results a bit.

    Given how accessible this game is to new gamers, it's an excellent way to bulk up on gifts for friends and family. If you buy from FunAgain, definitely have them throw one in.

             Sag.


 
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cvlw wrote:
We've been playing this game consistently. Funny, we play it at a time when our collection is becoming loaded with top-tier games like Goa, La Citta, Power Grid, Keythedral, Mr. Jack and some others. Yet, we are very happy to spend 30 minutes on this game.


    I feel exactly the same way -- I'd very much like to get more of this game in, in spite of the heavy hitters that we have available to us. I can't seem to get my fellow players to step up on this one -- it's there in the stack but no one picks it out. Most of my play has been online because of that. The game gets better the more you play and I don't think my buds have stepped far enough over the line for this one to click. Instead Coloretto fills the niche, which in my opinion is a much softer game -- a good choice when you're tired and don't want too much burn.

    Instead of being heavy with rules and components, Queen's Necklace is varied in strategy and play, and you have to adapt to what's available. Since it's a card game each hand is unique. Since it's board-gamish in nature it's about manipulating the board and controlling the endgame. It's just a nice mix. Given it's 30 minute play time I should find a way to get it on the table more. In short, I think the game plays bigger than it appears.

             Sag.

    (The above quote is from personal mail sent between the author and myself, used with permission.)
 
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M D
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I have to disagree with the OP that the rarity tiles are random. The rarity tiles are distributed according to the number of each gem played. Manipulating the rarity distribution is imo the most import strategic aspect of the game. I almost always prefer to go for rarity points over fashion points because most people won't look to king you will usually end up getting as many points though typically more than going after the most fashionable gem.
 
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