Wake Up Family Game Night With ‘Sleeping Queens’

Gaming Reviews Tabletop Games

Be the first to wake up the queens in order to be victorious in Sleeping Queens!

What Is Sleeping Queens?

Sleeping Queens is a family card game for 2-5 players that plays in 15-30 minutes. It is for ages 8+, but younger kids who know their numbers and can do some basic addition will be able to play as well. The game is published by Gamewright and retails for $11.99.

Sleeping Queens Components

Sleeping Queens is a small box game housed in a box that is approximately twice the size of the actual game, but with an insert that holds the cards snugly in place. Inside you will find the following:

  • 1 Rules Pamphlet
  • 79 Cards
    • 12 Queens
    • 8 Kings
    • 5 Jesters
    • 4 Knights
    • 4 Sleeping Potions
    • 3 Wands
    • 3 Dragons
    • 4 of each number “1” through “10”

The cards are standard card quality with nice rounded edges and good thickness. I really enjoy the artwork in this game. Each queen has a unique theme, such as the Cat Queen or the Pancake Queen, and the artwork reflects that in the style and detail of the queens’ outfits. The same goes for the king cards. The 1 through 10 cards look like a standard deck of cards, except that the symbols relate to a queen. For instance, the 9s show nine pancakes on them, thematically linking them to the Pancake Queen. The artwork is fun, silly, and colorful, quickly drawing kids in while still be obvious what each card is.

How to Play Sleeping Queens


Depending on the number of players, the goal of the game is to be the first person to have either 50 points or 5 queens (in a 2-3 player game), 40 points or 4 queens (in a 4-5 player game), or to have the most points after all twelve queens have been awakened.

Setup and Game Play

Begin by shuffling the queen cards and laying them out, face-down (sleeping) in the middle of the players. Then shuffle the rest of the cards and deal each player five cards. The remainder of the cards make up the draw deck and can be placed within easy reach of everyone. Then, starting with the player to the left of the dealer, they will play a card and take the action related to that card. At the end of the turn, draw back up to a total of five cards. If the draw deck is ever empty, shuffle the discard pile to create a new one and continue play.

2-player setup. Photo by Michael G. Pistiolas

Card Types

Queens: These twelve cards begin the game asleep (face-down). Each queen has a number value ranging from 5 to the coveted 20-point Heart Queen. The majority of queens just count as victory points; however, if you reveal the Rose Queen, she allows you to awaken a second queen. The other special rule is that a single player cannot own both the Cat and Dog Queens. For instance, if you already own the Cat Queen and you flip the Dog Queen, then you have to put her back to sleep. And vice versa.

Each queen card is uniquely themed. Photo by Michael G. Pistiolas

Kings: If you play one of these cards, you immediately get to select one of the sleeping queens and add her to your court of queens.

The king cards also have their own unique artwork. Photo by Michael G. Pistiolas

Jesters: Playing a jester is always a gamble. When you play one of these cards, you flip over the top card of the draw deck. If it is a number card, starting with yourself, count the players equal to the number card drawn. Whomever you finish on gets to draw a sleeping queen. If it is a face card, then you just place it in your hand.

Knights: These armored warriors are not your knights in shining armor. Instead, when you play a knight card, you get to steal a queen from another player. I guess you could think of it as rescuing her, but the eyes of the knights give them a sinister appearance, so I like to pretend that they are capturing the queens instead.

Dragons: These cards can be used to stop knights from taking a queen. If you have a dragon in hand when someone plays a knight on you, you can play it and the dragon will chase him away.

Sleeping Potions: Similar to knight cards, a sleeping potion is played on another player, but instead of taking a queen for yourself, you choose one of their queens to put back to sleep by placing her face-down back in the middle.

Wands: Like the dragon card, a wand can be used to counteract a sleeping potion, keeping your queen safely in your royal court.

The specialty cards. Photo by Michael G. Pistiolas

Number Cards: The number cards can be played in a couple of ways. First, you can discard a single number card to draw a new card. Or you can discard a pair of the same number to draw two cards. And finally, you can discard three or more cards that compose an addition problem, drawing an equal amount of discarded cards. For instance, discard a 3, 5, and 8 because 3+5=8, then draw three new cards.

Number cards. Photo by Michael G. Pistiolas

Why You Should Play Sleeping Queens

I had never heard of Sleeping Queens prior to my mom giving it to my daughter as a gift. Normally, I am skeptical of games that my mom buys for us, since she’s not a game nerd like me, but in this case, Sleeping Queens turned out to be a family winner. It’s quick, easy, and fun. I was able to play it with my kids at a young age, and a few years after getting it, they are still interested in playing it.

As my kids have grown, we have altered the rules so that Sleeping Queens remains a fun yet educational experience. Basically, we changed the addition rule so that you can turn in any quantity of number cards as long as you can add them all up. Not only does this present a more challenging math equation, it also allows players to more quickly go through the deck, finding the face cards, which is where the real fun of the game is. A second house rule we added is that players can discard two or more of the same number card instead of just two. These simple adjustments has kept Sleeping Queens relevant for my family.

Lastly, I have to say that I really love the artwork. Some of the queens have a Picasso-esque appearance to them, with facial features and body parts a bit askew. The kids also enjoy the artwork and will study the cards while playing, picking out the various details of each queen and king. They each have a favorite queen and will often choose to use their knight to capture that one even if it’s worth less points then other options at the time.

As you can see by the condition of the card edges in my photos, we have played this game a ton. It is one of our go-to games when the family wants to get in a quick game or two before bedtime. While the fun of the Sleeping Queens is certainly in waking up the queens or capturing them from other players, I appreciate the math element that was built into the game. Overall, I recommend Sleeping Queens as a light family card game with colorful artwork, a bit of education, and lots of fun.

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