Welcome to The Game Shelf!

After getting into the board game hobby at the end of 2014, we've decided to share our thoughts on the games we're collecting on our shelves. The collection has certainly expanded over the last few years and we've been making up for lost time!

Sometimes our opinions differ, so Amy will be posting reviews every Tuesday and Fi will post on Thursdays. We hope you enjoy reading some of our opinions on board games - especially those for two players.

Get in touch by emailing thegameshelfblog@gmail.com

Thursday 26 September 2019

The Game Shelf Reviews:- Queenz: To Bee or not to Bee

Game: Queenz: To Bee or not to Bee

Publisher: Mandoo Games

Designer: Bruno Cathala, Johannes Goupy 

Year: 2019

Queenz is published by Mandoo Games - a Korean publisher who are starting to make a name for themselves with both kids and family games, as well as some light to mid-weight strategy games. As their games begin to become more widely available, board gamers will recognise some of the designers and artists who are involved with Mandoo and I really hope that elevates their profile.

This year alone, they've had a co-publication of Cat Cafe, with Alley Cat Games in the UK, and they have a whole stack of games releasing at Essen. Queenz is co-designed by Bruno Cathala - a name familiar to many gamers and is definitely among those that caught our attention, along with Castello Methoni, also releasing at Essen 2019.

Queenz is an abstract strategy game for 2-4 players, of collecting flowers, planting a garden, and putting the most bees in your beehive.


In Queenz players will take turns taking flowers from the central board before moving the meeple around the board a number of spaces equal to the number of flowers taken. A player may take up to 3 flowers each turn, but if they take 3 they much all be different colours and none may have bees on them. If you take 2 then neither can have bees, but they can be the same colour. If you take 1 then it may be of any colour and have any number of bees on it.

Alternatively a player may elect to not take any flowers and instead fill one of the field boards. You can only do this if you are able to completely fill a board with 5 things - either flowers or hives. The new field board is added to your player area, and tessellated with any boards you already have. Then you will score points for each group of 2 or more flowers of each colour. With the supply of flowers and fields dwindling as a round progresses it can be important to take flowers fast to get fields early, however that would be ignoring the bees.

In addition to placing flowers in their fields players can also place hives. Hives score only at the end of the game, where they score 1 point for every bee on the flowers around them. Placing hives strategically can mean a lot of points, just don't let them break up your flower fields. Whenever you score a new colour of flower you move a coloured honey pot onto your player board. Once a player has made every colour of honey, the end of the game is triggered and the player who triggers end game, plus any additional players who activate all 5 honey pots will get some bonus end-game points.

Amy’s Final Thoughts

Queenz brings  a fresh take on the tetromino (or pentomino in this case) tile laying game. While there is a tactical factor to the shape of fields that you will get, the main selection is for the flowers. Here you are left with a tough decision. Should you focus on getting as many of one colour as possible to make large scoring areas? Or perhaps try and get a large number of bees, with a bigger bonus for getting a queen bee that lets you manipulate your already played fields? But then if you take 3 flowers a turn you may be able to get tiles first, sure you won't be scoring as much per tile, but you will be getting them faster than anyone else! Of course once you score all the different colours you will trigger the end of the game, so when are you ready to do so?

What starts of looking like a simple little game of laying flowers ends up with far more tactical thinking than it would initially appear fro the simple rule set. Don't get me wrong, Queenz is a fast a light game, but is it one with a large amount of decision making. Grabbing those bees can result in you being far behind on the leader-boards during the game, but once the end game is triggered, assuming you placed your hives well, you may well be laughing!

While there isn't a tremendous amount of player interaction in Queenz, you do get the chance to somewhat humble your opponents plans by manipulating how the meeple walks around the central board. If you know your opponent is after all the bees they can get their hands on, why not make the meeple skip over that bee-filled row? On top of that there are a few bonus points available should the field stack run out, or if  you get presented with an empty row of flowers, and even when the meeple makes a full rotation. It might not be much but an extra point can often win the game.

Overall Queenz is a great, light, tile placement game, which takes a different view of how tile-laying should be done. There is a risk of a player deciding to end the game incredibly early by rushing every colour (you could potentially end the game on your second tile if you were lucky) but outside of that the option to end the game at almost any time adds a lot of tension making for an enjoyable experience.

Fi’s Final Thoughts

Queenz really seems to bring something new to abstract tile-laying games. I've been trying to think of other games where you actually construct your player board before using it, and I can't think of any others. At the same time I'm even dreaming of other ways it could be used. There's nothing else that's too unique about the game, with some simple scoring and a style of tile-drafting that is very familiar from Cottage Garden and Spring Meadow.

Aside from its one unique twist, what I really enjoy about Queenz is how it really makes you think about strategy. In my first game I made a foolish choice to create a big chunk of yellow and then to add more big chunks to it over the course of the game. I think the better strategy now is to add to lots of areas, little-by-little, making the most of scoring the same zone over and over again. I also really neglected bees in my first game, but then I saw a game where Amy focused too much on bees, sacrificing other aspects of the game. There seems to be a very delicate balance to all of the elements that works really well.

Queenz has the kind of theme that has mass appeal - nature themes always seem to. It also looks very pretty and simple on the table. It's a shame that the quality of the boards couldn't quite live up to the flower tokens, the honeypots or even the insert. That would really have rounded off a nice production. But, if you can forgive this, then Queenz is an extremely solid abstract game that I certainly recommend checking out if you're at Essen, or able to get your hands on it through a retailer.

You Might Like...
  • There's lots of strategy in how you start to layout your board.
  • The drafting rules are well thought out with the relative power of picking one, two or three tiles.
  • There's a lot of passive player interaction in the drafting and the triggering of the game end.
You Might Not Like...
  • The production quality is lower than you might expect, especially for the player boards, central boards and tetrominos, which are very thin card stock.
  • A player who really rushes the game might just win and no-one would've had a great time.

The Verdict
7.5/10 Queenz is a really great abstract game. Not only are you tile-laying to optimise your points, but you're also building the board onto which you lay your tiles. The game offers enough different point scoring options and has interesting tile drafting rules that make it a great little puzzle to explore. The only downside is the production quality that doesn't quite live up to the other beautiful abstract games on the market.

Queenz was a review copy kindly provided to us by Mandoo Games.

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