Monday, July 22, 2024

‘For The Queen’ Second Edition Tests The Limits Of Love And Loyalty

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Darrington Press‘s push further into tabletop has so far shown a great deal of success thanks to the brand’s dedication to storytelling. Nowhere can that be seen better than their new edition of For The Queen, the successful storytelling game from 2019 resurrected this year with brand new art and a streamlined ruleset. This is at once a card game and a roleplaying game, something for D&D fans to play casually or something to help ease newbies into the joys of collaborative storytelling. Darrington Press was kind enough to send me a copy to check out, so let’s see just where our loyalties lie and dig into For The Queen!

What’s In The Box?

For The Queen box and cards

Game Credits

  • Game Designer: Alex Roberts
  • Editor: Meredith Katz
  • Cultural Consultant: Cai Kagawa
  • Game Production Manager: Alex Uboldi
  • X Card: John Stavropoulos
  • Graphic Design: Matt Paquette & Co

Artists: 

Arlei Dormiendo, Arthur Riel Cabezas, Brady Evans, Caitlyn Kurilich, Céline Vu, Cheseely Li, Chelsea Ortega, Constance Bouckaert, Denis Freitas, Eleonor Piteira, Esther Tejano, G.C. Houle, Hamahmeyo, Jeong Kim, Kelsey Eng, Lemonjuiceday, LABillustration, Lara Georgia Carson, Lauren Covarrubias, Malia Ewart, Maxine Vee, Nicole Gustafsson, Karina Pavlova (WeirdUndead), Silly Chaotic, Tasia M S

60 Question Cards

17 Rules Cards

1 X Card

13 Queen Cards

For a rather minimalist game like For The Queen, presentation and art is a massive part of the experience. Luckily this is Darrington Press and they really don’t spare any expense when it comes to their releases. This is a lavish release even for its $24.99 price point, from the sturdy magnetized lid that unfolds the cover of the faux-storybook box to the little red ribbon that helps you get the cards out. Those cards, by the way, are fantastic pieces of individual art that use their tarot-sized tableaux to the max . The huge roster of artists were put to good use designing the Queen cards, each of which is bursting with color and character. The selection of the Queen shapes the way the story will go, so having a variety of moods and even genres to choose from is essential. There’s classic fantasy queens, young queens, older queens, cyberpunk queens, fae queens, and even queens that can represent different non-western cultures. You can spend a long time just looking through the selection and examining the rich detail the artists included in their pieces.

For The Queen cards
For The Queen Queen cards

Shaping The Story

The land you live in has been at war for as long as any of you have been alive.
The Queen has decided to undertake a long and perilous journey to broker an alliance with a distant power.
The Queen has chosen you, and only you, to be her retinue, and accompany her on this journey.
She chose you because she knows that you love her.

It’s hard to go through the exact gameplay in For The Queen because its a game that centers around developing a story between players that changes from game to game and group to group. It’s almost more about conversation than anything, which fits the story thematically since the conceit of the game is the players are all traveling with the queen. When you start you select a queen from the 25 (in the base game) included. Like I said before, each queen brings their own vibes to the story and helps set up where you might want to go in your conversation. Feeling lighter? You can travel with the Birthday Queen or Kindly Queen. Want to go somewhere dark? Maybe Scream Queen of the Queen of Fallen Glory will be a better spark for your story.

For The Queen question cards

The game then continues using the included question cards, all of which help players develop the queen and their relationship with her. These topics range from light topics like pet names and what you brought for protection to heavier questions that establish the Queen’s nature as a ruler, as a confidant, or even as a lover. This is the real heart of the game and also the reason the game has an X card included – you’re going to end up uncovering a lot as you go. Even if you totally roleplay and don’t put much of yourself in (odd concept I know), you’ll end up creating some very human, very real drama between your fictional characters that a lot of similar games struggle to handle. The depth and seriousness of your answers is up to you, of course, but this isn’t a game I’d necessarily bring round the pub with your friends.

The real masterstroke of the game, for me, is the way it ends: “The Queen is under attack. Do you defend her?” This card is randomly shuffled into the question deck and can appear at any time. It could be you barely know the queen or only have surface level takes on her…or you’ve spent time dissecting her every problem, every virtue and vice, established how much you love her and how much she might love you back. And so when the attack happens you only have as much to go on as has been revealed and it can be tough to act on that. But there in lies the true nature of the story.

The Verdict?

For The Queen is a beautiful piece of fiction that brilliantly blends the catharsis and honesty offered by roleplay with the freedom that comes with collaborative storytelling. There’s few guard rails in place and the story is truly shaped by players, enabling a unique experience every time the game comes out of the box. The roster of Queens are gorgeously rendered and the expanded lineup from the original means there’s even more to love here. You can tell that in this second printing they really tapped into the best parts of the original. Alex Roberts and the team at Darrington have truly created something special with For The Queen, and I don’t think it’ll be leaving my shelf for a long time.

Promo cards featuring Queen by Midnight princesses imagined as ruling Queens, illustrated by Mike Pape and Ameera Sheikh.
Promo cards featuring Queen by Midnight princesses imagined as ruling Queens, illustrated by Mike Pape and Ameera Sheikh.

You can grab For The Queen from the Critical Role shop or at your FLGS, for an MSRP of $24.99. Shops that are part of the Darrington Press Guild have special promo cards depicting the princesses from Queen By Midnight for use as Ruling Queens in the game.

Images via Darrington Press

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