Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Queen's Necklace (CMON Games)

Queen's Necklace is a game that was released in 2003 by Bruno Cathala and Bruno Faidutti. It has since been re-released with updated artwork by CMON Games. The game takes place in Paris around the time of the French Revolution. You and your opponents are royal jewelers trying to craft and sell the best jewelry to the Queen and her court. The game plays 2-4 players, ages 14+. It takes approximately 45 minutes to play and retails for $30.
Setup
1. Place the game board in the middle of the table.
2. Give each player a player marker of their color, and have them place it on the 0 space on the score track.
3. Shuffle the four Gem Tiles and randomly place one face-up below each Fashion position on the game board.
4. Stack the four Rarity Tiles and put them aside until the first Jewel Sale.
5. Take the deck of cards, setting aside the three Merchant cards and thoroughly shuffle the rest of the cards.
6. Deal four cards to each player.
7. Take the remaining deck and divide it into three equal stacks, placing a Merchant card at the bottom of two stacks.
8. Put the two Merchant card stacks on top of the third stack. Then, take five cards from the bottom of the newly formed deck and shuffle a Merchant card into those cards and place it back at the bottom of the deck.
9. Deal the top five cards, face-up, onto the game board, placing a cost marker on the upper right hand corner of each card.
10. Randomly pick a starting player, and you're ready to begin.
Game Play - A player's turn is divided into three mandatory phases:
1. Influence - You may play from your hand as many Influence Cards (blue) as you wish, with the only caveat being that you had to start your turn with them in your hand. The effect of the card takes place immediately.
2. Card Purchase - You have a budge of 10 pounds to purchase as many cards from the five on the game board as possible. Cost for each card is dictated by where the cost marker is on each card. Any pounds not spent on your turn are lost, and do not carry over.
3. Devaluation - Move the cost marker down on each card, making the cards cheaper for the next player to buy. If the cost marker on a card reaches the X, the card is discarded. Replace any empty spots on the board with new cards, placing a cost marker on their top most space.

Jewel Sale - Three times per game, there is a Jewel Sale. This occurs when a Merchant card is drawn. There are three steps to every Jewel Sale:
1. Displaying the Jewels - Each player may display up to four different jewels in each sale. Each individual jewel consists of one of more of a single gem type and may also contain other Sale (gray) cards, accessories, and characters. Then, all players simultaneously reveal all their cards, putting a separate jewel in each row.
2. Rarity - Count the total number of each type of gem displayed. Assign a rarity ranking to each gem with 1st Rarity being the gem with the fewest displayed, 2nd Rarity having the second fewest displayed, and so on.
3. Selling Jewels - For each individual gem type, only the player with the greatest number of gems of this type completes the sale and collects victory points based on fashion and rarity of the gem. After the sale, all displayed cards are discarded and rarity tiles are set aside for the next sale.

The game ends after the third Jewel Sale and most Victory Points wins.

Review
Queen's Necklace is an economic and hand management game that is disguised as a jewelry making game. Within this game, you are carefully deciding which cards to buy and in effect which cards your opponents will get to buy at a discount. Since there are only three times to score points the entire game, you want to try and keep up with what jewels your opponent is buying, so you don't waste a scoring phase thinking you are going to score for a specific jewel, only for your opponent to score and you walk away with nothing.

The game has been around for over a decade, and it is a solid game in terms of mechanics, but it was in desperate need of updated artwork. This is exactly what CMON Games did, and I'm a bit torn on the artwork. It is a definite improvement over the previous artwork, but I can't decide if I like the cartoony nature of it or not. As for the player count, I found it played best with three players. At two players, there wasn't enough tension. It felt like, well if you take those two gems, I'll take the other two gems. At four players, it was a bit of chaos on what ended up happening during the jewel sales, and it felt like planning didn't matter at all.

Overall, the game is pretty fun and plays at a pretty good pace. Since you have the same amount of money each turn, it's generally an easy enough decision on which cards you are going to purchase. The biggest decisions come from which cards you want to play and at what time. I really like the period this game takes place in and it fits the theme well. Generally, I'm not a fan of economic games. because sometimes you make all these plans, thinking you are doing well, but then it blows up in your face. This game has that element, but it is light enough, plays quickly, and scores easily, so you won't mind too much if you lose.

This game was provided to me for free by CMON Games in exchange for an honest review.