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Updated: Oct 20, 2019

The 'Queenz' of this title are Queen Bees because Queenz is notionally a game from #Mandoo and #RioGrande about beekeeping and producing honey. We say 'notionally' because the bee and flower theme is a paper-thin veneer on an essentially abstract game from designers Bruno Cathala and Johannes Goupy. That's not a criticism - it's an enjoyable abstract game that's easy to learn and play. The theme (and attractive art by Vincent Dutrait) just adds to the game's appeal and charm.

Coloured orchid tokens are laid out randomly in a 6 x 6 grid. A gardener meeple moves around the outside of the grid and, on their turn, the 2–4 players choose to take one, two or three orchids on the row or column that the gardener has reached. If they want to take an orchid with bees on it, they can take only one. They can take two non-bee orchids of the same or different colours or they can take three non-bee orchids provided they are three different colours. The orchids taken go onto your player board, which can hold up to six orchids.

As an alternative to harvesting orchids, you can select a pentomino 'field' tile and plant out on it orchids from your player board. The fields have to be full, so this action will demand five orchids from your board or four orchids and one of your three wooden hive meeples. Orchids score when they are adjacent to an orchid of the same colour, and as you add pentomino fields, you'll score the same group again every time you enlarge it. Hives score at the end of the game for the number of bees orthogonally or diagonally adjacent to them.

There's a race to be the first to score all five orchid colours as that yields an end-game scoring bonus, and there's strategy too in planning not just your own orchid selections but what selections you leave open to your opponent(s). At the end of your turn, you move the gardener on one step for every orchid you take, so you can see which row or column will be available to the next player based on the number of orchids you take. If your choice ends up moving the gardener to an empty row or column, that's another point you score.

You'll find the score margins can be tight in Queenz, so you do need to plan ahead to ensure you don't drop points unnecessarily. That can also mean securing the pentomino shape that can you can place most advantageously.

So there's enough to think about in Queenz to give you a buzz but, despite this, this is happily not a game where players will get frozen in analysis paralysis. So no sting in the tail! You can expect most games to take no more than 30 minutes: quick enough for the players who've been narrowly beaten to clamour for a rematch.

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