There is love in the air, but it is of the best kind; forbidden. The beautiful Princess Jing and her sister Fang have been promised to elderly suitors. They may have royal blood, but love doesn’t know wealth, or standing, or class. The ones who have won the hearts of the princesses are the ones entrusted with keeping them safe. The royal guards spend more time with them than anyone and it was only a matter of time before sparks flew. The only problem is that protocol dictates that the princesses are always separated from the guards through a screen. It is truly a blind date kind of scenario. Yes, love is in the air, but will it be realized? Only time will tell.
In Princess Jing, players take on the role of the princesses looking to get across the chamber of screens to reunite with their blue-collar love.
Right off the bat, you’ll be struck with the beautiful and functional components in the game. The palace courtyard makes up the playing surface, and 25 screens fill it in a 5 x 5 grid. The 15 screens in the centre of the board are empty, but each player places their princess, a maid, and a magic mirror holder on three of the five screens on their end of the board. The screen work quite well at hiding the identity of the characters behind them. Finally, the object of their affection is placed on the opposite side of the chamber.
The goal is to move your princess across the chamber of screens to meet up with their love interest on the other side. Each turn, player can move one of their screens from its current position into one of the (up to) eight surrounding spaces, exchanging it with the screen in that spot. The only limitation is that you can’t reverse the move your opponent just made.
After moving a screen, you have the option of pointing at a screen in an effort to find your opponent’s princess. If you’re successful and identify the right screen she’s hiding behind, then she must return to the starting line on your opponent’s side of the board (you close your eyes, so you’re not entirely sure where she’s gone). However, if you make a mistake, you opponent gets to take two turns in a row, possibly giving them a tactical advantage.
So, how do you find out which screen hides your opponent’s princess? Well, one way of course, is to follow their movements. See which screens they seem to be inching ever-closer to the guard at the other end of the floor. The other way is to use your magic mirror holder to your advantage. The mirror holders, hold mirrors (duh), and allow you to see what might be hiding on the other side of a screen. Positioning the magic mirror holders effectively will make it possible to see where the young royal in love is hiding, taking away any risk of identifying them.
On its surface, Princess Jing is a really simple game. All you need to do it get your princess to the other side, without getting identified. The Legendary Animals variant adds a bit more depth of strategy. Each player chooses two of the three legendary animals (fox, stork, owl) and adds an extra magic mirror holder. They place the six different characters on the first two rows of the chamber. Then each player randomly selects one of their secret objective cards. Finally, they each place all three of their opponent’s guards on their side of the board. Only one of them is the true love of the princess, but which one? The secret objective cards inform them who the love is, based on the two animals hidden behind their opponent’s screens. They must first find both animals, before they can identify the guard that has their heart. It adds an extra layer that is really welcome.
Princess Jing is a fun, unique game that focuses on finding love rather than killing off opponents. Definitely give it a shot if you get a chance.