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Board Game Review: The Rise of Queensdale

Because I love a good story and groove on rich immersive themes, legacy games really appeal to me. The chance to be part of an unfolding narrative is wonderful. It provides a structure for friends to commit to an investment of their time together on a regular basis. It holds everyone's interest over time (when the story is well written and executed). Especially valuable for me is that it lessens the bitter taste of a loss; I get so interested in the plot that I don't care as much about winning. I'm trying to tamp down my competitiveness and narrative driven games help. Finally, I’m a huge fan of Inka and Markus Brand (we have a number of their games in our library already, including all of the Exit  games, Encore, and Raja of Ganges). For all of these reasons, I was really excited when Ravensburger sent me a copy of Inka and Markus’s newest legacy game, Rise of Queensdale, to review.

I actually received my review copy early in 2019, but our RoQ group consists of parents with busy schedules so we can only get together about once a month to play. We've made our way through 13 games so far, and with only 2 or 3 more to go before we finish the legacy series of games, I thought it was a good time to sit down and share my thoughts on the game (Especially in light of Christmas approaching).

Rise of Queensdale  is a legacy worker placement game set in Medieval times. Players take on the role of subjects to King Nepomuk II and Queen Margaret and are tasked with building a new city, Queensdale, on behalf of the royal family. Each player is given jurisdiction over one quarter of the city and is competing against the other players to build the best borough.

The City Board

As the legacy series of games progresses, players continue to build different types of structures to earn favor with the royal family (fame points) in the midst of dealing with political drama, disease, and other Medieval happenings. Each game in the series sees players attempting to reach their next epoch goal (a target number of fame points). If they are successful, they will have a new, higher epoch goal during the subsequent game.  Note that multiple players can reach their epoch goals during the same game as gameplay continues through the end of the current round once one player reaches their goal. The winner of each game is the person who surpassed their epoch goal by the most points.

The artwork in the game is illustrated by Michael Menzel with graphic design provided by the Fiore GMBH studio in Germany. Michael is probably most familiar to the US based board game community as the illustrator for the Legends of Andor series of games. He brings the same fantasy style drawings he used in that game, with their romantic fonts and soft palettes of color to his work here and it’s lovely. There are a lot of components included in Rise of Queensdale   and Michael does a good job of tying them all to the theme as a cohesive set with the artwork.

My Player Board

Components include dozens of different types of wooden tokens (huts, meeples, player score markers, etc.); the city building board,  scoreboard (epoch tracker, fame counter, and more), action board, player boards, building tiles, and other pieces made out of cardboard; and wooden dice. Everything has held up wonderfully as the months and games have gone by. The rulebook is flipped through frequently and while it’s showing signs of wear, it’s still holding together, staples in place. The rulebook is straightforward and we haven’t had any issues understanding the nuances of the rules.

The narrative in Rise of Queensdale is well written.  It’s memorable and everything that happens makes sense in the framework of the fictional universe laid down by the designers. We’ve played a lot of narrative driven games (Pandemic Legacy, Betrayal Legacy, Middara, Aeon’s End Legacy, Legacy of Dragonholt, Charterstone,  and Seafall, just to name a few) and Rise of Queensdale ranks near the top for narrative driven games that do a good job of incorporating the game play into the storyline. Some legacy games feel more like a story was loosely slapped on top of the game mechanisms, but that isn’t the case here. At the same time, this isn’t an RPG with some board game elements thrown in. The mechanics of the board game have been adeptly planned and implemented; they’re challenging and provide a compelling experience. As the legacy series unfolds, more actions are added to the action board; no one gets complacent or bored because new options keep coming available. Our game group has agreed that there seems to be enough components and actions to allow for replayability as a standard board game even after we’ve reached the very end of our last game in the legacy series.

Scoreboard and Action Board

Rise of Queensdale is a great board game for bringing friends and family together. It’s competitive, so those who turn up their noses at cooperative games and like to win against others will find it enjoyable. Everyone is working toward their own epoch goal and multiple players can reach their goal during a game, so everyone can feel accomplished even when they don’t win. This also creates a brilliant built-in catch up mechanism as the player in last place has the nearest epoch goal to reach. The further a player gets ahead of others in the series of games, the farther their epoch goal becomes and the greater the chance that the players behind them will reach their goals before the leader does. In our games, no one has been able to run away with the scoreboard so far. That helps the game stay family friendly. The narrative turns the game into a shared adventure where everyone is an active participant. Better than going to a movie is feeling like you’re starring in one. And as I mentioned at the beginning of this review, because Rise of Queensdale  is a series of games,  right from the beginning, it fosters a commitment for players to spend time together on a regular basis. That’s the best gift to share with friends and family – our time – and anything like Rise of Queensdale that can make that happen is a wonderful Christmas present to place or find under the tree.

Strategy Tip: If the narrative provides a new shared goal, PAY ATTENTION and work toward it. There’s usually penalties for everyone if it doesn’t get done and rewards for the players who successfully complete it.

-------------------------------------------------
Publisher: Ravensburger
Players: 2-4 (We played with 4)
Actual Playing Time (vs the guideline on the box): About 1 hour per game
Game type: narrative driven, legacy, dice rolling, worker placement
Rating:
review-OUIOUIOUI
Jenni’s rating scale:
OUI: I would play this game again; this game is ok. I probably would not buy this game myself but I would play it with those who own it and if someone gave it to me I would keep it.
OUI OUI: I would play this game again; this game is good. I would buy this game.
OUI OUI OUI: I LOVE THIS GAME. I MUST HAVE THIS GAME.
NON: I would not play this game again. I would return this game or give it away if it was given to me.

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