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Paris, on the eve of the French Revolution... The Queens necklace is missing -- and soon enough her neck may follow! From the slums, where purse-snatchers and courtesans work their respective trades, to the inner salons of the Louvre, where confessors, royal astrologers, musketeers and court favorites mingle and scheme in hushed conversations -- the position of the Kings jeweler has suddenly become a lot more dangerous!
Players take the roles of Royal Jewelers who vie to sell rare jewels to the Queen and her court. Over 100 cards represent jewels and various characters inhabiting the court. Each player must best decide how to spend their hard-earned ducats: on the acquisition of beautiful gems -- diamonds, emeralds, and rubies; or to buy the favors of the various court followers. After three years of craftsmanship, the jeweler who sells the most precious gems and builds the largest fortune will receive the coveted title of Kings Jeweler and a place at the Court!
We purchased this game about two years ago as part of a fairly large crop of games we got all at the same time because we wanted to do some game playing to help foster quality family time. Over the next year, Queen's Necklace easily won out as the most popular. To give you some idea, Carcassonne was next most popular but was considered too intense at times for the kids (they got pretty mad about swings in the game).
Overall this is a really great game and one that is very easy for kids to play level with adults very quickly and which rewards differing strategies - the balance is really very very good.
I bought this game coz it gorgeous layout but with little expectation for it at first.
However, once we learned how to play this game, we just can't stop playing it. A fun, enjoyable & variable game. You don't know who will be the winner before it ends. On my last game section, having 160 marks after 2 sale-days make me belevie I will be the winner (coz except 1 of the players got 60 marks, all other player got 0 mark at the time). However 1 of the 0-mark-players using his good strategy, he earn 170 marks in the last sale-day and become the winner!! Ooch ~_~
I call Queens Necklace (Days of Wonder, 2003) the double Bruno game, because it was co-designed by Bruno Cathala (War and Sheep, Lawless) and Bruno Faidutti (Citadels, Mystery of the Abbey). Its one of the few games that I played online before I bought the game, and is the only game that I have bought as a direct result of said playing. (Of course, I plan to buy any game produced by Faidutti, but the online playing sped up my purchasing).
This obviously means that I have a good opinion of Queens Necklace, and I find that the more I play the game, the more it grows on me. It is a good game with four players, and one of the best three-player games I have ever played. The auction mechanic is extremely unique, and leads to some good strategy and bluffing.
And now, an explanation of game play
Four tiles representing jewels are placed in the middle of the table (ruby, diamond, emerald, and amber). Another four tiles representing fashion are shuffled and randomly paired with these tiles. Each jewel is then worth the amount on the matching fashion tile (0, 10, 20, or 30). Three Merchant cards are removed from a deck of 110 cards, and the deck is then shuffled. Four of these cards are dealt to each player, and then a draw pile is formed in the middle of the table. One merchant card is inserted one-third into the deck, another two-thirds into the deck, and the third in the bottom five cards. The top five cards from the deck are drawn and placed face-up on the table. Each card in the game has five circles on the side, with a high number ranging from 6 13 in the top circle, and each circle having a progressively lower number. The bottom circle has a picture of a card that has been crossed out. A ring is placed on the top circle of each card. One player is chosen to go first, and each player goes in a clockwise order.
On a players turn, the first thing they may do is play an influence card, if they possess it. There are several different types of influence cards:
- Confessor: This card allows you to look at the cards of another player.
- Favorite: Allows the player to change the order of the gems fashion values.
- Forger: When played, causes another player to discard a gem card, of the type named by the person who played the forger.
- Courtier: Gives a player three extra ducats during the purchasing phase.
- Thief: Steal a card at random from an opponent.
The next phase is the purchase phase. Each phase, a player can spend up to 10 ducats to buy cards. The cost of cards is the number that the ring currently encircles. A player may buy as many cards as they wish, as long as they do not spend more than 10 ducats (unspent money is lost). There are several cards that can be bought during this phase. Several cards represent jewels on them, from one to three of a specific type of jewel. Other cards include influence cards and other special characters. These other characters or items can be used at different points in the game.
- Astrologer: When this card is bought, instead of receiving this card, the winning bidder instead takes the top card of the draw pile.
- Queen: When a card is revealed from the draw pile, the player owning the queen may discard it to take the revealed card.
- Ring: Played during a jewel sale for extra victory points.
- Alchemist: Played during a sale, to allow a player to change a jewel from one type to another.
- Cardinal: Played to cancel a sale for one round. (each player going once)
- Banker: Adds to the value of jewels during a sale.
- Musketeer: Can be played to cancel a Forger, and if drawn by a thief, cancels that thief, allowing the player owning the Musketeer to steal from the player playing the thief! Three musketeers may also be played to steal the Queens necklace.
- King: Played during a sale to cancel the value of a gem type.
- Queens Necklace: The owner of this card should wear the included necklace with the game around their neck. The Queens necklace can be played with a jewel during a sale to cancel a King card.
Whenever a Merchant is drawn, a sale takes place immediately (unless canceled by a Cardinal). Each player decides which of the jewels they have in their hand they will sell for this sale, and place them face down on the table, along with any special cards that will affect them. Cards do not have to be played during a sale. Once each player has decided the cards theyll sell, all cards are flipped face up. The amount of jewels that are being sold by all players are then totaled. The jewel type that has the least amount of jewels on the table receives a +30 tile next to it, with +20 to the next least, and +10 and 0 being added consecutively to the second most and most. This gives each jewel a total value of between 0 and 60. Each jewel is then looked at. The player who is selling the most jewels of that type is the ONLY player to sell a jewel of that type. That player sells exactly one jewel of that type and receives points equal to the jewels value. If the player played a ring with that jewel type, they can sell two jewels (doubling their points). Multiple rings played with a jewel can provide even more points (triple, quadruple, etc.) If the player plays a banker, they get 10 extra points for each jewel they sell. If a king has been played with a jewel, NO player gets points for that jewel, unless another player plays the Queens necklace with that same type of jewel. In this case, the player playing the king must pay fifty points to the player with the Queens necklace.
After a player has purchased their cards, all rings on the cards are moved down, making them cheaper to purchase for succeeding players. If the ring reaches the crossed out circle, the card is discarded. More cards are then drawn to replenish the face-up cards to five cards, and rings are placed on the top circle of each new card.
After the third and final sale, points are tallied. The player with the most points is the winner!
Some comments on the game:
1). Components: Days of Wonder strikes again with a fantastic array of components for this small game. The cards are beautifully illustrated, and are very easy to read, and quite clear. Their size and quality are also quite good. The tiles are some of the thickest Ive ever seen in a game, which of course is never a bad thing. The little golden rings are a cute touch, and add a little theme to the game, besides adding a nifty mechanic. The only cheesy component is the necklace and its not even a necessary feature anyway. Wearing the necklace is a little extreme, but if a player does it, everyone can laugh at them. An excellent plastic insert holds all the pieces well (no bags needed) in a sturdy, well-illustrated box.
2). Rules: The rules are printed on a colorful 12 page booklet. While this sounds long, its because they have many examples and complete explanations of each phase and each card. The game is very easy to teach, although new players will have to be walked through a sale to grasp the concepts clearly. Fortunately, there is an online tutorial that will walk players through the game.
3). Website: Days of Wonder has some terrific resources available on their website www.queens-necklace.com. There, a player can find new card ideas, and submit their own. (To be used with the blank cards that come with the game. The online tutorial is really well done, and should answer most questions that come with the game. A forum, news, and pictures of the game complete this excellent site. If you are interested in the game at all, I urge you to check out the site.
4). Sales: The sales are very unique. As a player, you are trying to sell the most jewels of a type, but have the least amount of jewels of that type on the table. Rings, kings, and the Queens necklace all add to the tension. Its very possible that some jewels wont be sold for the entire game, and the choices for the players during a sale are very crucial. Should I sell all my diamonds this sale, or wait for the next? But what if Bob plays the King along with a diamond, canceling my diamonds and rings Ive played with them? Bluffing also plays a good part here.
5). Strategy: There is a lot of strategy in the game. Deciding which cards to buy, which cards to sell, and when to play special cards makes for some very interesting tactical decisions. Looking at another players hand at the right moment can really change the game. Deciding which jewel to play the king with, and at what sale can win/lose the game. And the rings are extremely important. If they are played at the right time, with the right jewel, the player who plays them can easily win.
6). Theme and Fun Factor: There arent many games based on the Three Musketeers (in fact I cant think of any), so the theme is a unique and refreshing one. It fits the game well, and the idea of fashion and rarity of jewels fits the mechanics like a glove. All of this adds to the fun factor. I have found that most of the fun of the games comes from the sale, with the rest of the game being a slow buildup to that point. Its extremely satisfying to play a king when an opponent lays down 5 jewels of that type. Its just as satisfying and fun when another player plays the Queens necklace on the same jewel type, causing the fuming player to give them 50 points (while everyone else laughs).
7). Players: The game is okay with two players, but not especially. Four players are good but have little strategy with the purchasing phase. A three-player game, however, is ideal. It seems to play the best, and as there are few good three-player games, this one should be an easy pick when that is the amount of players one has.
So I highly recommend this game. The two Brunos have produced a real winner here. The game doesnt take very long, and is very intriguing the entire time. Each game leaves the players thinking how they could have done it differently, and how much they want to play again. A unique idea, a good theme, and a lot of fun add up to yet another Days of Wonder winner!
Each gem type (Amber, Diamond, Emerald, Ruby) begins with a random estimate: 0, 10, 20, or 30. Deal five cards faceup, for sale at their highest costs.
Each turn, take into hand up to 10 ducats' worth of faceup cards, at current costs (one to 10 ducats). Reduce the cost of unselected cards by moving a marker down a cost space, discarding cards that have reached their lowest costs. This fascinating mechanism forces you to examine potential bargains left for other players. End by replenishing faceup cards.
Action Cards, when discarded at the start of turns, offer a royal feast of ways to circumvent the usual rules. Drawing a Merchant Card initiates Sales. Everyone simultaneously discards Gem Cards (valued 1 to 3). Gems' current estimates are determined by the total value of their discards--the lowest total gains the highest estimate. Whoever discarded the highest total for a gem earns the sum of its initial and current estimates. Most money wins after three Sales. A gem of a family card game!