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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!
My teenagers picked up on the nuances of this game very quickly. I was not so lucky, but an email from me seeking clarification was quickly and kindly answered by the company.
Just a note about using a Thief card: If you are to be a victim of a thief, especially a very observant thief, I recommend taking a moment to shuffle the cards in your hand. I noticed that when my youngest started to shuffle the cards in her own hand that our best thief player, my older son, was a little less 'lucky'. Observation skills are a part of this game, however, and should be rewarded so I wouldn't go so far as to make this a new rule, but rather a once-offered suggestion.
We like this game because it's very engaging, the cards are nice, and it is well themed. We hate scoring... but we don't care for the scoring phase in most games so this is no different.
Plenty here to make you smile!
Queen's Necklace is an intriguing card game that actually works best with three players, though still very good with four. It has similarities to other Bruno Faidutti games (creator of Citadels, Dragon's Gold, Castle) but is certainly no spin off. Players strive to gather collections of gems to create the best jewelry and at the same time mess over opponents through the use of character cards. Thieves steal cards from other players, Confessors ask opponents to reveal their hand, and the Cardinal forces everyone to keep the Sabbath Day holy, allowing you to better prepare for an upcoming jewel sale.
Merchant cards, which appear everytime approximately one third of the deck is drained, trigger a scoring session. This involves keeping track of what other players have been collecting, determining when to hold 'em and when to fold 'em, and using nasty surprise cards such as The King to upset your opponents' scores.
Days of wonder has at least two hits now, Queen's Necklace and Gang of Four. Both have quality components that rival any European games and it's rare to find a game that works well when you have a trio of players. In that category Queen's Necklace is right up there with Wyatt Earp, Castle, and Where's Bob's Hat?.
I had the great pleasure of speaking with Eric Hautemont of Days of Wonder while attending the Gathering of Friends get-together in April 2003. He informed me that Days of Wonder was taking an approach of releasing games with very high production qualities, even though this meant that they might carry a higher retail price. He felt that customers would appreciate the high quality and the games would gain a good reputation.
Only time will tell if this marketing approach succeeds, but I certainly cant argue with the quality of the games they have released so far. The latest two Mystery of the Abbey and Queens Necklace are both top notch in the production category and include some little features and components that, although really unnecessary for game play, are very nice touches and add atmosphere to the games. Queens Necklace even comes with an actual necklace!
Bruno Faidutti has teamed with Bruno Cathala to give us Queens Necklace. As Ive mentioned several times previously and is quite evident from some of our pleasant exchanges on various internet gaming forums, Bruno Fs tastes in games dont exactly match mine. I always approach his games with a certain degree of trepidation. Still, I marvel at his creativity and would be hard-pressed to find a more friendly and gentle man.
I had the tremendous honor and pleasure of learning Queens Necklace from both Bruno and Eric while at the Gathering. Experiences such as this fall within the realm of surreal for me. Of course, there was the fear that I wouldnt enjoy the game and be forced to render less than favorable remarks if asked my opinion. To my great relief, I thoroughly enjoyed the game and felt it was high-up on my scale of Bruno favorites.
Each player represents one of the kings jewelers, attempting to craft and sell the most desirable and valuable jewels in the kingdom. Players purchase various gems with which to craft their jewels. In addition, they must spend money to influence (or bribe, in more crude terms!) various members of the kings court including the king himself! Three times per game, players display their gems in hopes of selling them and gaining a healthy profit.
There are four types of gems in the game: diamonds, emeralds, rubies and amber. These gems are represented on four tiles as well as on numerous cards in the deck. The four tiles are mixed and randomly placed in a row on the table, which determines the order of their fashion-ability. These are marked by placing the four fashion tiles, one each above each of the gems. The gem that is most fashionable (the one placed underneath the #1 tile) is worth more than the gem that is least fashionable. The price ranges from a high of 30 to a low of zero. This fashion order can be altered during the course of the game by the play of the appropriate card (the Favorite).
The thick deck of cards contains 59 gem cards, depicting from 1 3 gems apiece. There are also over 35 special cards, including various characters, rings, etc. These are thoroughly mixed and four are dealt to each player. Then, three merchant cards are divided and dispersed into the deck, one of which is mixed into the final five cards. Five of these cards are then revealed and placed face-up in a row.
Each card depicts a 5-space track which displays the cost to purchase a card. The cost decreases each turn that the card remains un-purchased, eventually causing it to be discarded if no one purchases it after four turns. The current cost of each card is indicated by a small gold ring that slid down with each passing turn.
A players turn is quite simple:
1) Influence. The player may play as many influence cards (blue cards) from his hand as he desires. These cards are characters from the kings court and can be used to perform a variety of actions. Some of the cards include:
a) Confessor: Look at all of the cards in an opponents hand. Very useful to gain information as to which cards a player is collecting.
b) Forger: Choose a player and a gem type. If possible, that player must discard a card of that gem type. If he has none, he must show you his entire hand to prove it.
c) Thief: Steal a random card from an opponent. Watch out for that Musketeer, though!
d) Courtier: The player has an extra three ducats to spend this turn.
e) Favorite: The player may cause one gem to become the favorite. The tiles are rearranged accordingly.
2) Card Purchase. A player has 10 ducats to spend on the purchase of cards from the face-up display. He can divide amongst the cards in whichever way he sees fit. No change is given and money cannot be kept for future turns, however, so use it or lose it!
3) Devaluation. Any cards remaining on the table are devaluated. The gold ring on each card is moved down one space on the cost track. This makes these cards less expensive and more attractive to the next player.
After devaluating the remaining cards, new cards are revealed until there are once again five cards in the face-up display. If a Merchant card is revealed, play is temporarily halted and a Jewel Sale occurs.
The jewel sale is comprised of three steps:
1) Displaying the jewels. Each player secretly decides how many of his gems he will offer for sale, as well as any special characters or cards he will play to somehow influence the sale. Players separate their cards into face-down rows, each containing one type of gem and any special cards being played with that gem. When everyone is ready, these cards are revealed. It is wise to keep the number of cards secret until everyone is ready.
2) Rarity. The number of each type of gem being offered for sale by ALL of the players is tallied. The four rarity tiles are placed below the gem tiles to indicate the rarity of these gems. For example, if there are fewer emeralds being offered for sale than any other gem type, then the 1 rarity tile is placed below the emerald tile. The rarer the gem, the more it will fetch when sold.
3) Selling jewels. For each type of gem displayed, the player with the greatest number being offered for sale gets to sell those gems. These gems, no matter how many displayed, fetch ONE price. The gems are sold as a package and not individually. The amount the player receives is found by totaling the numbers on the fashion and rarity tiles that appear above and beneath that gem. This can range from a low of 0 to a high of 60. Certain cards played with those gems may alter this number. The displayed gems and special cards are discarded. All other players simply discard the cards of that type that they had displayed and get nothing in return. Very, very tough.
This process is repeated for each of the four gem types, with the money earned being recorded on a piece of paper. This is perhaps the only component deficiency in the game; there should have been some sort of score track included.
Once all sales are completed, the rarity markers are set aside and play continues. This entire procedure continues until the third merchant is revealed. A final jewel sale occurs and the player with the greatest accumulated money wins the kings favor and is victorious.
Adding spice to the game are numerous special characters and items that can be purchased by the players. In addition to the blue influence cards discussed earlier, there are numerous other cards that can be played at various times during the course of the game. There are too many to describe in detail here, but here are a few:
a) Astrologer: Discard immediately after purchasing it and draw the top card from the deck into your hand. This is a sneaky way to get a card into your hands and foil the card-counters in the group!
b) Musketeer: This card can be used to cancel an attack by the Forger or foil the thief. Further, three musketeer cards can be played to steal the Queens Necklace from its current owner.
c) Queen: When a card is drawn to replenish the five face-up cards, this player can take the card directly into his hand.
d) Ring: This VERY powerful card allows the player to sell TWO jewels instead of just one during a sale. However, the card MUST be played with a particular type of gem and only has effect if the player is successful in selling that type of gem during a jewel sale.
e) King: The King cancels the sale of a specific gem type during a jewel sale. Nasty, nasty. However, beware the Queens Necklace!
f) Queens Necklace: The player who acquires this card also takes the actual necklace included in the game. During a jewel sale, the player may play this card with a particular gem type. IF the King card was played by an opponent on that type of gem, the sale of that gem type is NOT cancelled. Further, the player of the King card must pay the holder of the Queens Necklace a tribute of 50 ducats. Ouch!! There is only one Queens Necklace card in the deck, though, so once it is played, this threat is removed.
Since the vast majority of cards are acquired from the face-up display, astute players will know which players possess the powerful cards. They should also have a good idea as to the current distribution of gem cards. Of course, since each player receives four face-down cards at the beginning of the game, there is still an element of uncertainty involved.
The real tension in the game is present during the jewel sales. Deciding how many cards of a type to play is vital. You want to play enough to guarantee that you will have the most displayed and consequently be able to sell that jewel. On the other hand, the fewer of that type of gem played, the rarer it will be and, thus, fetch a higher price when sold. You also want to use your special cards wisely, particularly those that will double a sale for you. A dilemma, to be sure!
With so many special powers floating around, the game does have a certain amount of chaos present. Thats not surprising since this is a Faidutti game. Still, it seems rather manageable and not over-powering. Yes, the game can have a bit of a repetitive feel as the same purchase cards phase is repeated throughout the game. However, there are enough special cards to shake things up a bit and keep things interesting. Further, the choices that surface during the jewel sale phase are significant and keep this game from becoming stale. I dont know the life-span of the game, but for now, Im perfectly happy to play it and introduce others to its charms.
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!