My wife picked Sleeping Queens up on a whim recently. It might have been on sale but, just between you and me, I think it was mostly because the game comes in a nice tin. She really likes tins.
We tested it out with our five year old and have so far played something on the order of a million times. So, TL;DR, kids like it.
The mechanics are pretty simple yet it still has a few different elements running through it. Basic game play is straightforward; play a card, draw a new one. Your goal is to collect either a certain number of Queen cards or Queen cards worth a certain value (these values change based on the number of players). The Queens start the game “sleeping” and are arrayed, face down, at the center of the play area. To pick one up you need to play a King card (to the game’s credit it does not say the kings are waking the queens up with a magic kiss, just waking them up).
The artwork for the Kings and Queens are quite well done in a fun style. Each card has a unique and amusing name rather than just being called a generic king or queen. The Bubble Gum King, Pasta King and Book Queen are some of my personal favorites.
In addition to each card having unique name and artwork, some queens also have a special effect. These queens have a star around their point number to remind you they have an ability and there are only a few so it is easy for to remember what they do. The Rose Queen gives you a bonus queen, the Dog and Cat Queen can’t belong to the same player and the Strawberry Queen can’t be stolen or put back to sleep.
Speaking of stealing, aside from Kings you also have Knight, Dragon, Potion, and Wand cards. The Knights allow you to steal a queen from another player. You can defend your Queens by playing a Dragon (which presumably eats the Knight in a vicious bloodbath. The game does not spell out the fate of the knight in any detail but it’s on the internet now so it canon).
You can also use a Potion to put another player’s Queen back to sleep (a la, a “if I can’t have her nobody can!” mentality). Fortunately, if you have a Wand card you can prevent this. When a Queen does get put back to sleep you flip her face down and back onto the board. This adds a slight Memory element to the game for your kids to remember where that queen is if they want to pick it up.
The final “face” card is the Jester. When you play a Jester you draw a new card. If it is another “face” card (game calls them Power cards but essentially a card with a picture) you can take another turn. If it’s a number, you count off, starting with yourself, and go around the table until you count to that number. The player you stop on gets to pick up a Queen from the board. So it’s a gamble that might net yourself a queen but might give one to another player.
The final group of cards are the number cards. These cards each have a number on them from one to ten. They are essentially filler cards but also a bit of math skill practice to the game. The number cards do nothing for you so on your turn you can discard them to draw a new card. You can discard just one and draw one card. You can discard a pair and draw two new cards. Or you can make a simple math equation and draw three new cards (ie 2+3=5, discard a two, three and five card).
The rules only suggest addition equations of three numbers but we expanded it. You can discard any number of number cards if they can make valid equations (ie 2+3=6-1=5 and discard all five cards). The numbers only go up to 10 but you can throw in a little multiplication if you wanted.
Overall, it’s a fun little game with amusing artwork, that plays quickly and can be used for a little bit of stealth education.