01 March 2016
Back-stabbing, stealing and dodgy deals… all in a day’s work for a royal jeweller.
Cool Mini or Not/Spaghetti Western Games | Trading/bluffing | £24.99 | 2-4 players | 45 minutes | www.cmon.com
Being one of the king’s official jewellers isn’t as easy as it sounds. As well as creating the most glamorous jewellery around, you’ve also got to contend with thieves, assassins, forgers and, of course, the other jewellers trying to create even more elaborate shiny items than you. As if that wasn’t enough, there’s always a limited amount of jewels in the marketplace and gems can go in and out of fashion in the blink of an eye, plus you never know when the merchant will force you to sell your jewellery.
Although Queen’s Necklace has been around since 2003, Cool Mini or Not/ Spaghetti Western Games have recently re-printed the game complete with an artistic overhaul. However the gameplay has remained the same, so on your turn you’ll be trying to acquire rare gems from the marketplace to complete your jewellery or bribing characters to join you. Five cards are randomly drawn and placed in the centre of the playing area. The cards feature gems – rubies, diamonds, amber and emeralds – along with special cards like types of jewellery (rings or earrings) and members of the king’s court, who have special effects on gameplay (e.g. making gems worthless, stealing cards). Each has a depreciating cost - marked down the side of the card – and on your turn you’ll have 10 coins to spend on gems or people.
Eventually the buying phase comes to an end when the merchant card is drawn from the deck. Then everyone must down tools and start building their jewellery ready to sell. You have the option of building a different piece of jewellery for each gem – so a maximum of four – but you’ll only win the sale if you’ve got more gems than anyone else. If you win you’ll score victory points depending upon how fashionable that particular gem is but also how rare it is.
What’s more, there’s a certain amount of bluff involved because everyone can see what you’re picking up from the marketplace and therefore the other players will be predicting what type of jewellery you’re attempting to create. “Hmm… he’s just bought a load of rubies… I should probably try and avoid building a ruby necklace and go for a diamond ring.” But because it’s optional how many cards you play in the selling phase the other player could be hoarding those rubies for later in the game, so you would have received the ruby rarity bonus if you’d played them this turn. Damn it! Of course, all your plans could go out of the window once the other players start playing their character cards, which makes planning ahead even more difficult.
Those who like to carefully scheme and plan ahead are likely to be vexed by Queen’s Necklace because there are so many elements of chaos. You can never predict when a sale will start and the special effect cards can change the flow of a game. However, thanks to its strong theme and relatively simple mechanics, those who don’t mind some chaos and ‘take that!’ gameplay from opponents will have fun with Queen’s Necklace.
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