Welcome to the fantasy land of Tessandor. With the death of the king, the place is in turmoil. You and your fellow guild masters are tasked by the queen to keep the country safe, banding together and using your abilities in the best possible way.
A co-op board game for 2-4 players, By Order of the Queen is a dice-rolling, hand management game that takes place in a fantasy realm. It might look all cutesy, with sprinkles of Adventure Time styled artwork, but don’t be fooled, it is full of depth and tough to beat (and can also be lengthy, our games have lasted anywhere from 80 to 150 minutes).
The adorable artwork throughout is beautiful. The characters are captivating and the drawings add to the story, it even comes with a coloring in book… for real. You can really get into the characters / story and this adds more depth to your gameplay experience. Quest flavour text too really adds a little thematic wallop.
When you first start unpacking the game, it looks like there’s a lot going on and that it could be overly complicated. There’s a few different decks in the box, but the setup is well-explained and the rulebook overall is really easy to understand, aside from a couple of points we needed to clarify (argh!).
Everything has a clear demarcated place on the board or off to the side. Even the card discard area, where the ~~dead~~ retired go to rest and used items and enemies go to lay is adorably thematic (a graveyard).
Each turn a player has a choice of actions, including fighting (the horde or the powerful nemesis), questing or taking up the all important Orders of the Queen. These turn choices are intrinsic to winning and players do need to work together in discussing the best way forward, though they never truly work TOGETHER (check out our house rules for more info).
“Man for a cute game this is tough” – Gamesnight player
You roll one die per matching icon / stat you have in your chosen party for that turn, with a 5 / 6 being a success, it’s that simple. Iconography is super clear and even the quest cards have tips on the back of them suggesting what you might need to succeed. Still an unlucky roll even with the best chosen party and you’ll fail… frustrating.
The hardest part of the game is probably completing the all important Orders of the Queen, because you’re only allowed to do that once per round sequence, it’s essentially blocked once a player has done it, meaning other players can’t contribute until the entire round is over. This can be frustrating and can seem like the game is punishing you for bad rolls.
Despite the difficulty of winning and some frustrating moments, By Order of the Queen was “unexpectedly joyous”, because while it can look a little overwhelming at first, it is actually quite easy to get a handle on and it’s tons of fun. If I were to tweak anything about it, it would be difficulty, as it’s nice to win now and again (house rules!). Five games in – no houserules – and not a single win as of yet.
“The game was unexpectedly joyous” – Gamesnight player
By Order of the Queen House Rules
We’ve got a few suggestions for house rules for By Order of the Queen that might make your games less frustrating. Though we love the game, it’s not perfect and did annoy some of those we played with.
- Changing the winning dice rolls from just a 5 and 6 to a 4, 5 and 6 changes luck based odds to 50/50.
- Opt to assume every quest card takes place as a single quest in a single location, thus speeding up quest rewards (rather than having to collect multiple location cards PER quest).
- Share equipment cards before doing actions. We think this is thematically sound, as it’s meant to be a co-operative effort by all the guilds to keep the kingdom safe.
As if you can’t tell, the only real downside to By Order of the Queen is both its difficulty and the luck aspect of dice-rolling. Sure you might get more dice the better you set up your party, but even the best party can fail at a relatively simple quest if you roll poorly.
Difficulty aside we loved the game, it’s absolutely gorgeous to look at, every detail has been lovingly crafted. It all flows well once the rules click and it is definitely worth checking out. It’s a must keep for my collection and I’ll be taking it to games days without a second thought. It just needs to be a tad easier. Definitely one to check out.