You score victory points when the Queen is moved to your influence tiles and deny your opponents victory points by assassinating their faction leaders.
The players take turn to move the Queen one tile at the time over a board with blank and colored influence tiles. Each colored influence tile moved upon scores victory points to the faction of that color at the end of the game. The later a tile is moved upon, the higher the score but do not wait too long - the game ends when the Queen is out of moves.
Instead of moving the Queen, the players may also use action cards to remove or replace influence tiles on the board to close or open up new paths to the Queen.
Last but certainly not least, a player may attempt an assassination on an opponent by guessing his or her color. If the guess is correct, the opponent loses an influence tile at the end of the game and vice versa. The other players are kept unaware of both the guessed and the actual color.
The challenge of Christina Regina is to steer the Queen towards your color while at the same time keep your color hidden from the other players.
In the card version of Christina Regina, the Queen's movements is replaced by drawings from
three piles of cards. Just like the squares of the game board, the cards may be blank or colored and
each turn, a player chooses which card to pick and whether to move one or two of the other cards
to the bottom of their piles. The scoring and assassination remain the same.
1.3: Court tiles changed to four quadrants and players playing different colors in different quadrants
1.2: Scoring changed from one tile scoring to all players to ranked tiles scoring to specific players
1.1: Scalable number of faction leaders, short game (first tile counts) and long game (last tile counts)
1.0: First edition
The complete rules are available in the PDF file to the right. In the following sections,
I will describe how they came to be.
The more symmetric a game board is, the more focus may be placed on the pure tactics. The chess-like board of Christina Regina does not contain any special areas that are better or worse than other areas but instead, and just like in chess, the tactics reaches a higher level.
The influence tiles
A challenge with a symmetric game board is to create variation. This is accomplished through the influence tiles. Since they are randomly placed on the game board, it ensures that each new game is unique.
The movements along the game board's influence tiles are enough for a tactical game. However, to add some more choices and give opportunities both to disrupt other players' agendas and reveal own agendas, the actions were introduced. The actions are simple (agitation to remove tiles, manipulation to switch tiles and assassination to over-throw agendas) but their tactical impact is vast. The last of the actions, the assassination, is the essence of the game - to guess your opponents' agendas without revealing your own.
It is important that all players benefit from an influence tiles, otherwise it would be too obvious which faction a player represents based on which tiles they move to. Now, a player that moves to a blue tile may play the blue faction. But perhaps he or she plays the red faction and simply wants blue to be taken before the red (and rank less). Or perhaps it is a bluff to provoke failed assassinations? You really have to take all the players' moves into account, as well as putting them into the context of the other players' moves, before you can guess the agenda.
A successful assassination paves for the successful game but if done openly, the other players
may guess the colors of the player involved. Say that blue player assassinates red. Whether
successful or not, green player will know that the villain is neither red nor green. The
solution was the hidden exchange of dagger markers and faction cards. Now, only the assassin
will know the victim's true color (and that won't help since, after the assassination,
she will not be able to conduct a new assassinations against the same victim).
Boardgame Rules (Video)
Boardgame Rules (PDF)
Cardgame Rules (Video)
Cardgame Rules (PDF)
... and Rejected Rules
There are of course also ideas that did not make it and here I explain why.
Change of colors
Initially, I thought an assassinated player should return with a new color and even give
the assassin an opportunity to change colors. The reason would be that the other players
might get an unfair chance to guess their colors otherwise. However, that would also mean
that a player with plenty of influence tile may be worse off after a successful assassination
and vice versa. Also, I didn't like the idea of two players having the same color.
The solution was the daggers, much simpler and more elegant.
A successful assassination should be rewarded but how? One simple idea was to give the
assassin extra points (or the victim, in case the assassination fails). However, this
added a risk of unintended kingmaking, as one player's bad assassination would benefit only
one of other player, namely the victim.
The reward was replaced by a punishment instead -
by assassinating someone, you would decrease that player's score and hence increase your own
relative score, as well as the score of all other players.
In addition, you would remove one of that player's action cards to further limit her
abilities. The idea here was to reward early assassinations and avoid a stalled end game
where players just keep changing and restoring the board with their remaining action cards.
The first edition scored only the first tile taken but to all players depending on relations
(blue scored most to blue, second most to red etc.). This was an interesting mechanism but slightly fiddly.
During the work with the card game, I came to connect the three faction leaders with the
three faction piles. How about changing the rules so that the assassination of the first
faction leader drawn would give the points to the second leader drawn instead? That would
add an extra dimension to the assassination game, as an assassination in some cases may
be disadvantageous to a player if the second leader drawn would give him or her less points.
However, this dimension would actually damage the most important element of the game, the
guessing of other players' color, and the idea was initially rejected.
Nevertheless, the idea was resurrected through the idea to score all taken tiles but letting
the score depends on time rather than relations - the later taken, the higher the score. This turned
out to be less fiddly and also give more weight to the board dimension - is it worth taking an
opponent tile to open a path to own tiles or will the game end before the Queen reach them?