Math and girl power. Sleeping Queens 2: The rescue ups the ante.

  The kings are in trouble. And it is time for the queens to take charge and save them. In Sleeping Queens 2: the rescue,  you guide the sas...


The kings are in trouble. And it is time for the queens to take charge and save them. In Sleeping Queens 2: the rescue, you guide the sassy queens while they navigate through perilous predicaments as they attempt to rescue those careless kings from danger. With the help of magical companions, they will journey through a world filled with challenges like Wild Gnomes, Sleeping Willows, and the sneaky Switch Witch. But don't let these obstacles deter you – your ultimate goal is to save as many kings as possible and earn the title of royal hero. Armed with the power of light math the queens will emerge victorious. So, get ready to put your math and skills to the test and save the kings!

Sleeping Queens 2: the rescue is the sequel to a popular princess themed Gamewright trick taking game that reinforced math and memory skills. After the daring rescue of the queens in the last game, the tables are turned, and it is not the queens turn to pull of heroic deeds. This new sequel takes the same themes and math objectives but instead of only playing cards, contains a bunch of extra components. The game is a little bigger and its predecessor a surprising bunch of bits and parts. When you open the box, you will find 84 new playing cards, 10 rescue companions' tiles, 6 knight pawns with standees and 1 six-sided die. The games rule "book" is only six small pages long and is easy to follow along with on first play.

The layout:

To set up the game, first separate the cards into three piles: the main deck, the kings, and the rescue companions. Shuffle the main deck and place it face down in the center of the playing area. Draw the top card and place it face up next to the deck to start the discard pile. If the card is an instant action card, shuffle it back into the deck and draw another card. Shuffle the rescue companions and arrange them face down in a grid around the main deck. Scatter the kings face up around the rescue companions. Give each player a random knight and return the other knights to the box. Place the die and turn guide cards within easy reach for all players. If this looks all a little chaotic to you, just hang in there it will all make sense soon enough. 

During a players turn there a number of steps to take, and a lot of things can happen.  The instructions are clear enough to handle each event when they happen so you can learn on the go without having to study the rule to intently.  I would actually recommend playing the first few go arounds, step by step together so people get an idea of what is happening and then address any diversions as they happen later.
That said, here are the basic steps for each player when it is their turn. 

Roll the die and draw the corresponding number of cards from the deck. If you roll a dragon, all players must move their knight and you may wake up one sleeping queen in front of you.

Play any and all instant action cards first, one at a time. It is easiest if you to resolve them as they appear.

Once the instant action cards have been resolved, it's time to place any remaining cards in front of you to form your "realm." Your realm can consist of queen cards, spellbook cards, and number cards, as long as they do not exceed a total of five.

With your realm built, you can now choose to take one of the following actions:

  • Use your number cards to make a math equation and take a face-down rescue card from the middle row. These rescue companions will need to be matched with the right queen in order to rescue a king.
  • Pair any number cards to wake up all of your sleeping queens. After all, a sleeping queen won't be able to do much rescuing.
  • Play a spell book to look through the discard pile and take one number card.
  • Rescue a king of your choice with a queen and matching rescue companion.
  • Finally, discard any remaining cards to end your turn.
As you can see there is some randomness introduced in the game by adding the custom die. Some people might be lucky and get a lot of cards, while others might only get one, or nothing if they roll a dragon. However, the hand limit will avoid the biggest imbalance.

In order to be able to rescue a king you will need a queen who is not sleeping and a matching companion. These companions can be found by using math with any number cards in your realm.  To obtain a rescue companion, you must use the number cards in your realm to create a math equation. You can use any combination of number cards and any type of operation (addition, subtraction, multiplication, division), as long as the equation only uses one type of operation per equation, and you cannot have operators (+ − × ÷) on both sides of the equal sign.
The example from the rule book below shows visually what is and what is not allowed. 

The amount of number variety in the deck is quite low and as a result most math equations are fairly simple to create, even if all you do is addition or subtraction.
It is good to pay attention to the card in your realm regularly as it is easy to miss an opportunity to get a companion card. Any companion card obtained does NOT count towards your hand limit. Now you are ready to rescue a king. When you are ready to do so, you must play a queen and their matching rescue companion. You can find these matches not in the artwork but rather in the symbol on the cards. Select a matching set and place the queen in the discard pile and the then return the companion card to the center grid but face up so everyone can see it. Take a king of your choosing and put it beside your realm. These are your scores and do NOT count towards your hand limit.

As mentioned, there are some wild cards in the game as well, known as instant action cards that can cause some ruckus and either foil your plans, mess up things for your opponents or bring you a bit of good luck.
The three action cards are magical gnomes, switch witches, sleeping willows
Magical gnomes can grant you special abilities if you are lucky enough to meet one! If you draw a Wild Gnome card, roll the die to determine which power you can use immediately. This could mean you can steal a card from another player, take a companion card, swap knights, or even take a queen from the discard pile. That is some powerful stuff.

Switch witches are tricky little tricksters that allow you to swap any one card in your realm (queen, number, Spell Book) with a card in another player’s realm or swap companions. The sleeping willows will put the queens to sleep, interrupting their rescue plans with a power nap. 

The players are not entirely powerless against these spells, each one of them has a knight to defend them. Every knight has a different ability or skill that will aid the players. The white knight, for example, protects against sleeping willows, keeping your queens safe from falling asleep, while the purple knight allows you to draw one additional card after rolling your die, etc.  Since the knights can end up chasing the dragon when it is rolled on the die, it means they often end up elsewhere and during the whole game you will end up with different skills at different times. It is there for best not to plan to far ahead because you might never know what comes your way next.
Each game takes about 20 minutes to conclude and the more players you have the less kings are needed to take the victory, this keeps the gametime workable and avoid issues with how many kings there are in the game. What I liked it that this allowed up to five players which is not always easy to find in a game of this size and often causes someone in our family to either play with someone else or sit out a round. Playing all together is so much more fun.

The artwork on the cards is fun, outlandish and unique. The various kinds of kings and queens are fun to look at and to giggle about and the colors are bright and inviting. all the components are of great quality and the addition of little plastic stands for the knights does add to the presentation. Are standees absolutely needed? probably not. A printed knight card would have worked just as well, but the presentation looks so much better like this. The packaging comes with proper places to put the various parts which cleans up nice and prevents the piece shaking through the box when transporting and potentially getting damaged. 

The question with all these parts and rules is of course if the game is too complex for what it is trying to do. After all the first game was just cards. However, I do not think it is any more complex at all. Pieces are just separated into more visual concepts. The needed math in the game is not too complex and should be able to be done by most kids ages eight and up, and if anything, else it will definitely help them practice doing math in their heads, but if they are having some trouble a small white board or a piece of paper and a pen will help in assisting the younger players in the group to come up with solutions.  Our group was higher in average age, but the theme and the gameplay were well received and soon the handwringing and grins of delight were spreading around the table as we tried to outsmart each other despite the random chaos that was thrown our way. It ended with my daughter totally missing a winning play to much delight of my son who gladly took the victory instead. There also seems room for house rules to make the game easier or harder if you feel the need to. One of the things we observed was the placing of the companion cards back on the table face open, easy for another player to find. But what if you put it face down? Now you added a small game of memory to the math game, just to make sure everyone keeps paying attention.

Sleeping Queens 2: The rescue is a delightful little game that is easy enough to explain to even the newest players, takes a short enough time to allow multiple play throughs and the randomizer addition of the rolling of the die evens thing out when there is a bit of a skill difference in the group. The theme and corresponding art are fun and playful and is suitable for the whole family ages 8 and up. If you are intimidated by the rules and the pieces just play two rounds step-by-step and you will be counting cards and rescuing kings in no time. This is one game to roll the red carpet out for and welcome in your household for those short after dinner game moments.

About the writer: DadGeek (Rob) is the co-founder of GeeksVsGeeks. He is a product of the eighties and never let go of his geek interest and hobbies no matter how often someone told him to stop. His love for gaming and all things geeks has been part of his parenting style and permeates throughout the whole family. A family of Geeks vs Geeks 


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