The land you live in has been at war for as long as any of you have been alive.
For the Queen is a card-based storytelling game by Alex Roberts and published by Evil Hat Productions. It is intended for 2 to 6 players and can be played in as little as 30 minutes. It is a game about a queen, a time of conflict and strife, and those who support her on a long and dangerous mission to seek peace.
Players take on the roles of the queen’s retinue, her closest companions, protectors, servants, and advisers. During the game, players will take turns answering questions about their relationship with the queen and each other, creating a larger world through their actions and feelings. The game itself is abstracted from a specific setting, instead providing evocative art and inspiring prompts to encourage the players to create their own unique story.
The Queen has decided to undertake a long and perilous journey to broker an alliance with a distant power.
The first thing I noticed was the high production value. The two-piece sliding box is wonderful to the touch and feels sturdy enough for me to carry in a backpack to a convention or game night. The cards fit perfectly within and are of an equally high quality. Looking at the cards themselves, the artwork and graphic design is vibrant, unique, and engaging. I want to hold them and read them and engage with them.
For the Queen is unlike many role-playing and storytelling games in that it is entirely printed on cards. There are no booklets or digital resources needed to play this game; all the rules and game materials are included on beautiful cards with amazing graphic design, art, and layout.
High production value is a constant in For the Queen, not just in terms of the physical production, but also how the game is designed and written. Many aspects of this game could have been less and it would have still been a fine game. The creators obviously were not interested in “fine”.
Rather than pasting a list of rules on the fewest number of cards, each rule occupies an individual card with simple yet effective layout. These are intended to be read one at a time, with each player taking turns reading a rule. This is highly engaging as opposed to a single player reading all the rules as fast as possible, making sure each player is connected to the rules and setup process. It is also secretly teaching you how the game works as it tells you, getting players used to individually reading cards in turn. Overall the rules are quite simple, but by creating a shared experience of setup and preparation, even this typically mundane aspect of games is elevated.
Many tabletop role playing and storytelling games incorporate safety tools, sometimes in the instructions, other times directing players to online resources. For the Queen goes above and beyond in this respect, including a physical X-Card in the game. X-Card is a simple safety tool developed by John Stavropoulos, a tool that is included by name or by description in dozens if not hundreds of games. For The Queen takes the next steps and has printed a beautiful card for you.
In addition to including the physical card, the X-Card is also integrated into the game rules as a part of regular play. The mechanic of “X-ing” content from the game is not something that is taboo or unusual, rather it is simply part of the game. I love the way For the Queen normalizes the safety and comfort of players as an built-in aspect.
The Queen has chosen all of you, and no one else, to be her retinue, and accompany her on this journey.
Your story will center around a queen, a monarch tasked with seeking allies in a time of war and crisis. The game provides you with 14 Queen cards with evocative art by a host of talented artists. They feature a wide array of skin colors, body types, and scenery that I absolutely love. I found myself just thumbing through them and telling myself stories about who they are and what they’re like.
At the beginning of the game you will collectively choose which queen you will accompany as they embark on a treacherous journey. An interesting note about the game rules is that is simply offers these queens as inspiration, alluding to the fact that you could come up with your own queen based on whatever fiction or imagery you want. Use stock art, a web search, or your own imaginations to decide what kind of queen you will follow.
At the heart of play are the Prompt cards, a deck of 46 cards each containing statements and questions to guide and challenge the characters. Do you love the queen? Does the queen love you back? What—or who—would you sacrifice to protect her? The prompts will give you an engaging place to start, from which you tell a wholly unique and personal story about your time with the queen.
Play is explicitly and simply defined as an active player reading a prompt card, deciding if they want to engage with it, and then responding to the prompts with answers or even short scenes about the characters. There is no single or correct way to do this, which makes the game exceptionally approachable to virtually any player. Play then continues to the next player, who reads a new prompt and builds on the story told so far.
For the Queen is a fresh and well-made game from start to finish. It challenges not only what a tabletop role-playing game can be but also how one can be made. Players will enjoy both wonderful and terrible stories, feel deep emotions for their characters, and look forward to endless replayability with new groups, characters, and queens. I highly recommend this game to anyone interested in an approachable storytelling experience, powerful and enigmatic queens, and the great and terrible lengths you would go to protect her.
She chose you because she knows that you love her.
For even more amazing experiences, you can find more games that are Descended from the Queen, or games that use a similar structure and format as For the Queen. You can also play For the Queen online with the official Roll20 module.