A Queen and two boardgames … why this makes me happy

25 Jul

News from my favourite rag, the UK’s Daily Mail, advises that Her Majesty the Queen plays boardgames. More specifically, her packing for her Scottish cruise with the family (3 generations) included a 1000-piece Ravensburger puzzle, another 1000-piece puzzle called “1950s shopping basket”, Articulate and … a copy of Carcassonne!

Colour me excited.

No, I’m not being sarcastic. This is good for gaming, as well as being good for the family cruise.

First of all, there’s the publicity. I would expect to see sales of Carcassonne improve in unexpected demographics. There are many people to whom the implied royal seal of approval will be an incentive, if not a reason, to go ahead and try something new. Watch for it in your FLGS: “As played by the Royal Family”.

But the second reason is the one that really has me thrilled.

See, I don’t for a moment think that a random Royal has picked up a copy of Carc or Articulate to show Granny. Or that she read about them on the Internet (Bigster’s theory) and sent some lackey out to pick them up.

I do, however, think that some assistant or other has been sent out to pick up something entertaining for the family holiday. I find it easy to believe that the Queen likes jigsaw puzzles (1000 piece puzzles, while maybe not quite enough for the true enthusiast, suggest some fairly serious interest). Anecdotes suggest she enjoys games like Charades, so a party game like Articulate could be a logical choice – and Carcassonne works well for someone with an interest in puzzles.

And that’s what really excites me – that someone, somewhere, is giving really good advice. Because if someone asked a gamer for a suggestion for a good game for a family holidaying together – 3 generations spending a fortnight with Granny, who really enjoys jigsaws – you really couldn’t go past Carcassonne.

I just hope this advice is getting out there to people without such lofty connections – and I think it is.

Which leads me to the next question: what should the Windsors try next?

I have some suggestions, based on what I think might be appropriate criteria:

  • The game has a theme (i.e. not an abstract).
  • The game is non-controversial (I imagine some eyebrows might be raised if the Royal Family were spied playing Guillotine, for example).
  • The game appeals to different age groups, ranging from 20s to 80s.
  • The game is accessible. It doesn’t necessarily have to be a traditional gateway game, but it shouldn’t have 20 pages of long and complex rules.
  • Ideally, the game should be themed around a British territory. This is optional, though. It tends to lead me to games like Brass and Britannia and that’s really a bit much.
  • It must be a game that they might actually enjoy playing. No Diplomacy or other “appropriate” games.

So, ma’am. Here’s a few games that I think might go over well on the next family holiday.

  • Ticket to Ride. When you have your own train, the concept of collecting tickets for routes might seem a little odd, but I think it will still be fun. I recommend the Europe map.
  • Cafe International. Waiting with my dad in a hospital emergency room some years ago, I saw an episode of a series about the Monarchy. Its focus was on a State Banquet and the astonishing amount of co-ordination and preparation that goes into these. At 3pm, the table was set and the chairs all aligned exactly to the same distance from the table. “Now it’s time for the protocol expert to do the final inspection,” they announced – and in came Her Majesty to check the tables. Seating for a cafe should be a doddle after that.
  • Thebes. With such an amazing art collection, I doubt that Her Majesty needs any more. Travelling to Egypt and Mesopotamia to dig up shards will be popular though – and doesn’t one of the granddaughters study History of Art?
  • Scotland Yard. Who wouldn’t want to chase villains all over London. I thought about Mr Jack, but that only takes 2 players.
  • Shadows over Camelot. In the “oldie but a goodie” category. I think this co-operative game might appeal more than Pandemic, and it takes up to 7 players, which is good for a big family trip.
  • Make ‘n’ Break. There are a couple of young grandchildren. Not sure if they’ll be along for the cruise, but they’re sure to get to Balmoral. And I’ll bet the older grandchildren will enjoy this one, in the meantime.

Meanwhile, Your Majesty, enjoy your Carcassonne.

I just hope you can sort out those farmers.


Posted by on July 25, 2010 in games


8 responses to “A Queen and two boardgames … why this makes me happy

  1. Gerald

    July 26, 2010 at 2:08 am


  2. Larry Levy

    July 26, 2010 at 2:58 am

    Yes, I heard about this and it’s pretty cool (although I have to admit that the idea of Her Majesty playing charades is a picture I can’t quite get in my mind). I do have to wonder about one of your suggestions, Melissa. Cafe International non-controversial? Maybe we’re more sensitive/obsessed about political correctness in the States, but every gamer I know considers the stereotypes of the different nationalities in that game to be staggering, if not borderline insulting. I realize it’s all meant in good fun (kind of) and it wouldn’t stop me from playing the game if I thought it was particularly good, but “non-controversial” isn’t the first adjective that springs to my mind when I think of Cafe International!

    I think Ticket to Ride Europe would be an excellent choice. And if the Family is feeling particularly daring, don’t forget the possibility of good old Settlers!

    • Melissa

      July 26, 2010 at 8:03 am

      You’re right, Larry. I like the game and have played it so often that I don’t really notice the caracatures anymore.

      On your next comment – I believe HM speaks very good French, so the French version of Time’s Up might go over well.

    • Fraser

      July 28, 2010 at 12:31 pm

      Wow, they are just cartoon stereotypes. I have never really given it a second thought.

      I’ll bet Guillotine and Funny Friends do less well in the States than elsewhere then 😉

  3. Larry Levy

    July 26, 2010 at 3:40 am

    Another thought: an ideal game for a group that likes Charades is Time’s Up! The only problem would be finding an appropriate version. I think the original has the best known and least difficult celebrities, as well as those most suited for people on the far side of 40. Peter Sarrett also did a great job with the groupings, so that there’s always enjoyable duplication of similarly themed names. The only issue would be if it’s too U.S.-centric. I know there’s a French version of the game, but I’m not sure which version would be best suited for British players.

  4. yewenyi

    July 26, 2010 at 9:31 am

    Maybe someone need to get a royal licence to make games suitable for the Queen, her family and the members of her dominions. Or they could take current games and modify them to be suitable for royal consent. How much would you need to modify Guillotine to make it Royals friendly.

    • Melissa

      July 26, 2010 at 11:00 am

      I think the whole “chopping off the heads of people” thing might need a re-think, Brian.

      • yewenyi

        July 26, 2010 at 7:50 pm

        LOL, I didn’t suggest it would be easy now did I, but I think you will find that in the past the royals have quite a habit of chopping off people heads, mostly of course bad people who are a treat…


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