For the Queen RPG review

Critiques

This game is magic

Ok dear friends, let’s face it : For the Queen is the best rpg I’ve played in 7 seven years.
Yessiree ! And I will explain why. But first, let me introduce it.

For the Queen is the new game from Alex Roberts, a successful and talented game designer known for her previous game Star Crossed.

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 all of you, and no one else, to be her retinue, and accompany her on this journey.
She chose you because she knows that you love her.

This is how we play : on your turn, pick a card and read it aloud.
The first 19 cards are the game’s rules.The next cards are questions on our relationship with the Queen, the journey, the war, etc..

By answering this questions, we frame together the universe and our characters. While the Queen is the main character of our story, she is not played by any of us. She ‘s got a central role in our story, and each character is first defined by their relationship with her.

The game is for 2 to 6 players, thought I’ve successfully run it with 8. There is no need of a game master. Each session lasts 30 min to 2 hours.

You can pre-order it at Evil Hat Production store.

I bought For The Queen last week because it’s already sold as a Roll20 module. I immediately made a DIY translated version so I could test it. And now that I’ve played it 4 times in 3 days, I can tell you : This Game is Absolutely MARVELOUS.

So, you need some proof ? Ok, fine. I said it was the best RPG I’ve played in 7 years, so let me explain why.

Update 1 : Since 06/2019, For the Queen is sold in all your favorite games’ shops

Update 2 : you can play 13 games inspired by For the Queen for free on this website : www.forthedrama.com It’s a community project where you can also create and publish your own game

Why For the Queen is soooo good

Because in a 30 minutes game, you have a rich, fun and exciting RPG experience. And you can play with people who didn’t know what is a RPG before. And who never had to read the rules or to listen to someone explain them. That’s turned me upside down !

For the Queen has 2 strengths : it’s accessible and it’s smart.

This game is so accessible that :

  • you don’t need a facilitator in order to play it. You don’t even have to read the rules beforehand.
  • the rules are taught in game : the players read the instructions on their turn, and thus start to use one of the main mechanics of For the Queen
  • you can start right now, regardless of your game culture, you TRPG or board game experience. You could have no clue what a roleplaying game is and start a session right here, right now. I saw it happen. And it works like a charm.

Smart : oh yeah, this game is smart.
Here are some ideas I have seen in others TRPG and that For the Queen draws from :

  • we are creating our characters and the universe while we play : I LOVE that ! It’s a great trick for creating rich, vivid and interesting characters. Those characters benefit from each player’s inputs. And so does the universe. This is a great design idea that produces characters that surprise me. And I love when my own character surprises me !
  • this role-playing game relies on unspoken facts, on off-camera things. And that is so gooood : we create so few elements that we get a “comic book effect”, with a lot of off-screen events. Players have to fill in the blanks. On your turn, you have to pick a card where you’ll find a question. The questions are about the relationships between the characters and the Queen. You know, the Queen — that character that nobody plays. That means that while we are creating our characters and the universe, we are also indirectly creating our Queen. Watching this central character take shape through the players’ indirect inputs is really exciting and fun. The Queen always possesses a rich and complex personality and offers the player a lot of different “narrative hooks”.
  • the safety tools are embedded in the game and have different functions too ! At the beginning of the session, players take turns to read the rules aloud, including how to use a X-card. This X-card can be used to remove triggering content as well as removing content that doesn’t jibe with the session’s mood, or which is deemed useless or no longer needed. This is BRILLIANT. It’s simple, fluid, self-evident and immediately understood by the party with no need of further explanation.
  • For The Queen is based on active listening and the constant participation of all players. You are encourage to ask questions in order to clarify, specify or refine other players’ responses. Remember these mottos ? “Roleplaying is a conversation” ! “Ask questions” ! Well, this is where For The Queen guides you immediately : it urges the party to ask questions, to generate a continuous dialog between all players. It’s awesome. And it’s even more awesome when you see beginners experiment it.
  • For the Queen works as well with children as it does with adults. I’ve played it with 6 others players, including 2 adults and 4 children, all beginners who didn’t know what a role-playing game was. And at the end, like in all the sessions I’ve played, the first thing I heard was “Can we play again ?
  • last big point : the game is a deck of 70 cards. That’s it. So handy and practical ! All the more reason why it should be hacked. (more on that later).

I loved my Queen, but I still betrayed her

So : what does a session looks like ? Well, none of the sessions I’ve played were like the other, and that’s because there’s no pre-established game universe.

After only 3 sessions, we found ourselves going to space to reach an alien race. We traveled to the Mountain of Death, searching for a powerful artefact. We rode on the arid steppes.

But there are a few fixed elements. The session culminates with a final question, a last card, which is always the same : “The Queen is under attack. Do you defend her ?”.

Yes, I think you know where it’s going : the party will talk about faithfulness, treachery, betrayal, sense of duty and honor. And the love for your Queen. This Queen who is sometimes loving and sweet. Sometimes also capable of the most abject cruelty “for the good of the kingdom”.

And this creates a joyful, relaxed atmosphere with plenty of laughs : “What ? you just said that you are her trusted bodyguard ! How dare you to embush our Queen ?” etc. etc.

And much more

As soon as we finished our first session, one thing became obvious : For the Queen is begging to be hacked. Hacks with new themes. New cards for playing with interpersonal characters relations.

In conclusion, I will say that For the Queen is a fabulous concept that shines with its simplicity.

The kind of game that I want to carry in my bag at all times and take out on any occasion.

I now only hope for one thing: a french translation, as it’s my native language — and a nice distribution.

This game deserves to appear in the stalls of stores not specialized in RPGs, and thus to find its public.

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