GTM #268 - Paint the Roses
by North Star Games



Paint the Roses logo


Paint the Roses 

Journey down the rabbit hole, through the Cheshire forest, and beyond the Mad Hatter’s tea party to the palace grounds of the Queen of Hearts. Take on the role of her newly appointed Royal Gardeners and finish her garden by painting the roses according to her ever-changing whims. However, the Queen is secretive about how she wants the garden to be arranged and is just as interested in removing people’s heads as she is in a beautiful garden.

 Queen of Hearts artwork

Paint the Roses is a new cooperative puzzle game of hidden information, teamwork, and deduction that automatically adjusts to your skill. Designed by Ben Goldman and illustrated by Jacqui Davis, the game takes place on a beautiful garden board that slowly reveals the puzzle through conversation and play.

 Paint the Roses gameboard

Each player holds one of the Queen’s whims - secret instructions showing how a section of the garden should be arranged. Every turn, you must work together to guess at least one of these hidden whim cards, but there’s a catch: the Queen won’t let you share these secret instructions out loud.

While you can’t discuss your whim, you are free to share theories at the table on other players' whim cards before making a guess. To help each other solve the puzzle, players take turns adding a shrub tile into the garden, trying to create a visual match of the secret arrangement on their whim card. Clue tokens are added to the garden board whenever a match is created, revealing new information about the whims to the other players.

 Paint the Roses Greenhouse board

Along with the main garden board is a greenhouse holding four shrub tiles. Which shrub tile is chosen and where it is placed on the garden board reveals crucial information in helping the team to deduce the correct answer. These simple game mechanics hide a game of deep strategy and logic, and experienced players will constantly find new and more intricate ways to interpret the puzzle.

Paint the Roses Queen playing piece and gameboard

Paint the Roses features a unique system that automatically adjusts the game's difficulty during play. The Queen’s whim cards are always available in three different complexities; easy, medium, and hard. The more complex the card, the more points you’ll gain when correctly guessed. As you move further around the score track, the Queen will get angrier, and the higher your score, the faster she will chase.

Whenever a whim card is solved, players select a new card of any complexity, allowing newer players to find their feet or help the team adapt to the puzzle during play. If you ever make an incorrect guess when trying to solve a whim and the Queen moves twice her usual speed, increasing the risks the more points you gain.

Paint the Roses gameboard

The more experienced you become, the better you’ll get at sharing information and solving the Queen’s whims, but remember, the more complex the cards you solve, the bigger the risks, ensuring a close game until the final turn for players of all levels.

As the game progresses, the garden board fills, providing fewer placement choices and raising the tension around the table. While early mistakes in the game are forgiving, the closer you are to finishing the garden, the more the Queen looks to punish your mistakes. Work as a team and complete the royal gardens, but make one mistake too many, and the last words you hear will be "OFF WITH THEIR HEADS!".


After years of being trapped in the castle grounds, you and your fellow gardeners hatch a dangerous plan; to gain the help of a Wonderland friend, trick the Queen, and make a daring escape to freedom. To escape, you’ll need to get through the Royal Gate, but the Queen has sealed it with five unique locks. Find the keys to the gate without losing your head, and you’ll find freedom from this life of servitude.

 Escape the Castle Alice artwork

Escape the Castle is a collection of 6 expansion modules for Paint the Roses bringing unique challenges to the game. The Mad Hatter can aid your escape as long as you help him host his famous tea parties. The White Rabbit can lend a hand, but you’ll have to be quick! Each game module brings a new way to play Paint the Roses and features a loveable wonderland character to help you in your quest.


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Ross Connell is North Star Games Community and Marketing Manager. He lives in the UK with his partner, their little dog, and too many board games.