The latest game from Critical Role’s Darrington Press, Queen By Midnight, officially releases in stores today. Here is an official description of the game from the publisher’s website:
The Midnight Queen is dead… As her kingdom weeps, the Queen’s dying command was to invoke the Rule By Midnight: a trial of combat and guile, where the Princesses of the Twelve Lands meet in secret to battle and scheme against one another. At the stroke of midnight, the most powerful Princess left standing will be crowned the new Midnight Queen!
Queen By Midnight is a battle-royale deck-building card game of guile, deception, and brawn! Six Princesses each feature unique tactics to battle for the right of the Midnight Court, but only one (and maybe their inner circle) will be the winner.
This game features a table presence you won’t see anywhere else, with its intricate Dice Clock Tower that spins to face each player on their turn, keeps track of the round, presents new cards to buy, and even acts as a dice roller!
- Designer(s): Kyle Shire
- Artist(s): Ameera Sheikh, Michael Ivan, and Mike Pape; Graphic design by Matt Paquette & Co.
- Mechanics/System: Deck-building
- Genre: Fantasy/Royalty
- Time To Play: 60-90 minutes
- Number Of Players: 3-6
- Ages: 12+
- Publisher: Darrington Press
- Release Date: August 22nd, 2023
If you’re not familiar with Darrington Press, they are the publishing arm of Critical Role, the popular entertainment group of voice actors best known for live-streaming their roleplaying games and campaigns. Earlier this month, they were present at GenCon where they had a booth to advertise their upcoming games and held playing sessions, which included Queen By Midnight.
I was lucky enough to nab a playing ticket during GenCon to play this game, and absolutely enjoyed it! Here are my quick thoughts about the game.
Want to see my game unboxing, courtesy of Valkyrie’s Vault? Watch the video below!
How It’s Played
The goal of the game is to become the next Queen by the time the clock tower hits midnight. There are two ways that you can do this: either have the most health and clout points by the end of the game or be the last princess standing (since everyone will be trying to kill each other off). You pick a princess to play with, which comes with its own character card, set of cards, and abilities that are unique to each. As each princess takes their turn, they work on constructing their deck from their own deck and vault, as well as the option to buy cards from the Bazaar. As each hour passes by, the tides turn, adding additional options, rules, etc. until the clock tower hits midnight. As a princess, you have to construct a deck that will work in your favor to get the maximum benefits in order to become the next Queen.
The Playing Experience
This game was a lot of fun to learn to play. It’s very different than anything that I’ve played before, and it has a lot of options for play. It did take a while to understand how to play the game and strategize, but by the time you hit the 4th or 5th hour (rounds, essentially), you start to get the hang of it and start trying out different strategies with your deck.
This game comes with character mats, health and clout trackers, playing cards, and a clock tower that serves as the Bazaar area, keeps track of the hour, and a dice tower for you to roll dice when it is called for. Each character has their own unique cards and abilities, so you can play this game with a different character every time and be able to learn and do something different every time you play. You buy cards mostly from earning clout, which you earn from playing cards that gives it to you.
One of the things that I really love about this game is that if you get eliminated, you can still continue to play. At the 6th hour, you pledge your allegiance to another princess secretly. If you are killed before the clock strikes 12, you reveal who your allegiance is to, and your character card reveals how you can support this person while you’re dead. So if you’re eliminated, you are still a part of the game, which is not common in a lot of battle royale games and allows everyone to join in the fun until the end.
The artwork here is beautiful. It really captures the royalty theme blended with the cutthroat style of the game by giving the Princesses some badassery poses and photos, making it clear that they are not one to be trifled with. The cards are designed to be read clearly while making it fun to look at the details and the artwork on them.
The standout of the game, however, is definitely the clock tower. It gives off that classic Cinderella feel of the sense of urgency and race-against-time theme, and the theme definitely fits in with the rest of the style of the game. The combination of it serving as a time tracker and a dice tray is so cool, and an added bonus is that when you construct it once you don’t need to deconstruct it to make it fit in the box for storage (other than removing the dice tray and base board, which are easy to put back on). Honestly, this is such a cool game to just look at!
If you’re looking for a fun, unique game where you are playing competitively against other players, this is definitely the game to check out from your friendly local gaming store (FLGS). The game is priced at $69.99, but I think it’s worth the cost due to its replayability, artwork, and uniqueness.
- Quality: 9/10
- Funness: 9/10
- Art: 10/10
- Replayability: 9/10
- Portability & Storage: 9/10
- Overall: 9.2
Queen By Midnight: This Princesses Are Cutthroats!
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