“Funducational” – This may not be a word in the Oxford English Dictionary, but it describes this card game, Sleeping Queens by Gamewright Games. This is a perfect game for children and parents alike. It was designed by a six-year-old, Miranda with her family and is a lovely introduction to set collection, hand management and a little bit of take that.
Set Up And Gameplay
Sleeping Queens is a fantasy card game for up to five players. The object is to be the first to collect five queen cards or have 50 points [in a four- or five-player game, four Queens or 40 points are the winning conditions]. In a land far away there are 12 Queens, all of whom are asleep. They are depicted on 12, red-backed queen cards and are laid face down between the players. The remaining green-backed cards are shuffled and five dealt to each player. The rest form a draw deck in the middle of the table. These cards either depict characters from the fairy stories or are “number cards”. Players take turns completing one action to try to awaken the Queens.
Playing a king card into the centre will awaken one queen. The player can choose one of the face-down Queen cards and then play her face up in front of them. Some Queens come with “baggage”. The Rose Queen always awakens a second Queen. The Cat Queen may not live with the Dog Queen and if a player should inadvertently choose the Cat Queen in this situation, they must return one Queen back to her sleeping state.
Playing a Knight card will allow a player to steal an awakened Queen from another opponent. This can be resisted by that player using a dragon card to fight off the unruly Knight. No self-respecting fairy-tale would be complete without a sleeping potion to put an opponent’s Queen back to sleep. The potion has an antidote, by playing a wand card.
If the jester comes into play, players may take a chance. This may allow another card to be drawn and if this is a “power card” this may allow another card to be drawn. If this second card is also a “power card” [king, jester, potion, wand, knight or dragon] this will be added to the hand. If it is a “number card”, starting with that player and counting to the left, players count off the number of gamers equal to that number. The last player gets to collect a queen.
About half of the cards are number cards [one through ten]. These need to be discarded in order to draw new cards in the hope that a king or power card may be drawn. Number cards may be played as a single card, and a replacement card drawn. A pair of identical cards may be played to draw two replacement cards. Even a series of cards could be played if they form a suitable mathematical equation. For example, if you have the cards numbers two, three and five, these may be discarded as a mathematical sum with the player announcing the equation “2 + 3 = 5”. It pays to discard as many “worthless” number cards as possible in order to draw more useful power cards later. The first player to collect five Queens or score 50 points is declared the winner.
This great game has been popular for years. The inventor, Miranda, would be a young woman now. It is testament to the gameplay and replayability that this is still in production some 17 years later.
Children grow up with fairy stories, with tales of Knights and Princesses, fantasy worlds with potions and Dragons. Sleeping Queens taps straight into a child’s imagination with a nod to stories of Sleeping Beauty or Saint George and the dragon.
An 8-year-old can easily play Sleeping Queens. Indeed, a reasonably numerous 5-year-old wound quickly get the hang of discarding number cards to try to draw power cards and awaken a Queen. As children get older the “mathematical” element can be enhanced and more involved equations developed. We have our own local house rules that allow the last upturned card of the discard pile to be utilised in any equation. Also, the formulae now become increasingly complex as our children have been going through school. It is not unusual for one of my teenagers to say “Four to the power of three, minus four, divided by six equals ten” and then change all five of their cards.
There is plenty of scope to adapt the complexity of numbers and make allowances for younger players to. The use of the dragon [to fight off the knight] or the wand to counter the effects of the sleeping potion all fit nicely with the theme. This teaches children to plan for other events as well as having an element of take that.
The cards are all standard playing card size of reasonable card stock. There is a lightness and humour about the images. Each of the eight king cards have their own personality. The Tie-dye King is wearing a rainbow-coloured smock, a crown with a CND emblem and making a peace symbol with his handful. The Cookie King has a half-eaten Oreo hat and is clutching a glass of milk [other branded biscuits are also available].
The number cards have a cartoon feel to them as do the 12 Sleeping Queens. The Dog Queen certainly looks like a poodle and the Cake Queen has just erupted from a giant gateaux. These are lovely touches to keep children entertained.
The ideas behind Sleeping Queens came about while Miranda and her sister Madeline couldn’t sleep one night. Gamewright were right to run with these ideas and have continued to publish a superb, long-lasting game that all children can relate to.
My children have almost left home, yet we still have a copy of Sleeping Queens on our shelf. It is perfect to grab for any visitors with their kids, takes seconds to set up and learn. With only 15 or 20 minutes of gameplay, it does not overstay its welcome. There may be some randomness in the cards that are drawn, but there are mitigating possibilities by discarding as many cards as possible. It is simple colourful eye-catching fun and, with some mathematics thrown in, has an educational angle to.
It is almost that time of year when aunts and uncles might wonder what to get nieces or nephews at Christmas. I cannot recommend Sleeping Queens highly enough as a fun family educational card game.