One day while wandering the games section of a Barnes and Noble, I spied this on the shelf. As someone who does enjoy RuPaul’s Drag Race and the art of drag in general, I decided to give it a go myself. Will Game of Queens be safe or will I ask it to sashay away?
My brother is the one who got me into watching Drag Race in the first place and he is my board game buddy for 99% of my gaming, so he was definitely an excellent player for this game.
To sum the game up briefly, each card has a different queen on it and below that is what I’d best describe as stats for that queen in different categories, including performance, comedy, look, outrageousness, shade, and legend factor. The cards are shuffled and evenly divided between the players with the cards face down. Now, according to the rules, players hold their cards face up in a pile so they can only see their top card. The first player chooses one of the categories and reads it out loud. The values are compared amongst the players and the one with the highest value in that category wins the round, so they get all of the top cards for that round and puts them at the bottom of their pile. The winner is the person with the most cards at the end.
I’m going to start with the positives before touching on my criticisms of the game. To me, and my brother, the best part of this game is the representation of queens. It is not solely RuPaul’s Drag Race favorites like Courtney Act, Alyssa Edwards, and Trixie Mattel but includes drag legends far and wide like Lily Savage, Dorian Corey, and Charles Pierce. I had never heard of these legends before this game honestly, so seeing that representation spread beyond the pink walls and runway of Drag Race is fantastic. The booklet also contains brief bios of the queens, which was nice for the ones I did not know about prior.
The art of the game is another thing I enjoy, but some queens do look better than others. My brother has a stronger dislike to the art than I because he finds they look kind of ridiculous while I like the overall style of the art. Bianca Del Rio does look kind of crazy though.
My big issue with this game is the actual gameplay. The very first game played, my brother completely dominated because he could see his card’s values as well as mine, so it was easy for him to always choose his highest value. And since the winner of the round gets to be the first player, he was always the first player. There was no way to counter these issues and that is insanely game-breaking honestly. I can tell this game was not really designed by professional game designers and not appropriately playtested. And overall the rules are very short, only taking up one page in the whole booklet. And I wonder if their definitions for terms like “face-up” are accurate.
So, we made house rules to actually make the game playable. The house rules that we enjoyed the most were:
- Instead of having cards face up, they are face down for all players so you don’t know which queen you have.
- Instead of choosing the categories, we cycled through them in order of how they are listed on the card.
We basically took away all player control and made it purely luck-based. You can keep the player choice for categories but keep the cards blind to make it less luck-based if you wish. Or you could have cards visible and cycle through categories, but that honestly doesn’t sound like fun. With our most enjoyable house rules, this game turns into a version of war with a fun, niche theme.
Ultimately, my recommendation is if you really love drag and Drag Race and are willing to add house rules to make the game playable and fun, then get the game. The art and representation are worth it if you’re a fan and you’d like to share the love of drag with others in a fun way. You absolutely have to house rule this game though, otherwise, it is unplayable. This game definitely had to lip-sync for its life.
What kind of themes do you enjoy in games? Let me know with a comment below!