Jack got a new game for his birthday that a few of our friends with kids say their kids love: Sleeping Queens. Interested but slightly skeptical, we opened it up after all of his friends left his party and I explained the rules to him and my wife. The rules go something like this:
- There are 12 sleeping Queen cards. The first person to wake up 5 queens wins. You can also get 50 points (queens are worth 5-20 points).
- If you have a King card, you can wake up a Queen.
- If you have a Knight card, you can steal someone else’s woken up Queen — unless they play a Dragon card to stop you.
- If you have a Sleeping Potion card, you can make someone put back one of their Queens — unless they play a Magic Wand card to stop you.
- If you have a Jester card, then you flip up the next card — if it’s a picture you keep it and go again, if it’s a number then you count around the table and that person gets to wake up a Queen.
- Most of the deck are number cards. You want to discard number cards so you can get the more interesting picture cards. You can discard them either one at a time, or two if they match, or — get this — if you make an addition equation. As in, you can discard a 1 and a 2 and a 3, because 1+2=3.
Those are the rules. Complicated? Not as complicated as the complex 2 hour strategy games I like to play, for sure, but this is a ways beyond Candyland and the like. I was a bit worried — I wanted him to like the game, but was afraid it would devolve into him putting all his cards out and asking us what he should do, or getting bored and wandering off.
So we start. I go first. I play a King card, and wake up a Queen. “Jack, your turn.”
He looks at his hand, then promptly says “two plus five is seven,” and discards a 2, 5, and 7. Katherine and I exchange a “holy shit” glance at each other, congratulate him on making a great play, and we’re off.
We play about 5 games in a row. The first is with Peter on my lap, but he just wants to grab all the cards and play with them. Fortunately, it’s his bedtime so I take him off to bed, while Katherine and Jack play a 2-player game. Throughout all of them Jack has no trouble with the rules or basic strategy, laughs as he thwarts sleeping potions with wands or steals queens with a knight, and makes several great plays. My favorite is when he was going to discard one card, and Katherine said, “Are you sure you don’t have any cards that add up to each other?” Jack wasn’t particularly good at hiding his cards, and she had seen him with two 3’s and a 6. Jack thought for a moment or two, then said, “You’re right!” And played a 2, 3, 3, and 8.
The lesson, as Katherine muttered while shuffling between games? “They tell ya, don’t underestimate your kid.”