Written and Reviewed by Chelsea Siaca

Welcome to Paint the Roses

You are playing as the royal gardens attempting to decipher what the Queen of Hearts current whim is! Guess correctly and you will stay a few steps ahead of her.

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I feel like I have been saying this quite often lately, but I played the digital implementation of this game, so I can’t say how the final components will look. However, there will be a basic retail edition option and a deluxe edition option that includes: acrylic garden tiles, dual layer game board, and Game Trayz insert. Both editions will have minis for the Queen of Hearts, the White Rabbit, and the Gardeners.  The game will also include flower tokens that will attach to the Queen of Hearts! 

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There are 132 Whim cards ranging from Easy to Hard.  Another main component is the Shrub tiles and there are way less of them than you would expect. There are 32 of them. They will have 1 of 4 shapes and 1 of 4 colors (club, heart, diamond or spade and red, pink, yellow or purple). Each player gets clue tokens that they will use during the game to indicate their matches as tiles get placed. Lastly, they have included notepads and I think this is such an awesome idea. I tried to write them down on a piece of paper as I went and my notes weren’t clear at all! The notepads will facilitate everything!! 

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You want to work together with your fellow Gardeners to complete the Queen’s garden. If she ever catches you, it’s “off with your heads”!


During your turn you will be placing shrub tiles and giving clues to the other players so that they may guess what is on your secret Whim card. The game is played in a series of rounds, which are played in a few phases.  During set up you will draw 1 Whim card. They have 3 difficulty levels: 

  • Easy – will have colored tiles that are adjacent to each. 
  • Medium – will show either colors that are adjacent to each other or shapes that are adjacent to each other
  • Hard – will show three different options: color adjacent to color, shape adjacent to color, or shape adjacent to shape
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Whim Cards

In Phase 1, you will be selecting a tile from the Greenhouse (4 tiles available) and then placing it on any empty space on the garden board. You will want to select the tile and placement that will give the best indication of what your Whim card is displaying.  Phase 2 – Place Clue Tokens, if there is a match between the newly placed tile and any adjacent tiles that matches any player’s Whim card, that player will place a cube on the newly placed tile. Place as many cubes as there are matches to the Whim card.  For this phase, all the players check for matches.  Here is where the notepads will be handy. You will want to take notes to try to figure out what is on your fellow players’ card. 

In Phase 3 – Guess a Whim card. During this phase, the players can discuss Whim cards and potential guesses but cannot discuss their own card. Once everyone is ready, the players must guess at least one player’s Whim Card (it doesn’t have to be the active player’s card). If the card is guessed correctly, the Gardner mini will advance the number of spaces indicated on the bottom right of the Whim card.  If at any point you pass the White Rabbit mini, a flower token is added to the Queen. This will affect Phase 4 – Moving the Queen.  The amount of spaces the Queen will move will depend on how many flower tokens are attached to the Queen and if the Gardeners guess correctly or incorrectly. If you all guess correctly and the Queen has no flower tokens, she will only move 1 spot. However, for every flower added to the Queen, her speed will increase by 1. If the Gardeners answer incorrectly, the Queen will move at double of her current speed. 

The last phase of the turn is Phase 5 – Replenish.  If the Gardeners are still ahead of the Queen, the players who do not have a Whim card because their old card was guessed correctly, will draw a new Whim Card. Refill the Greenhouse with a new Shrub tile and pass the Greenhouse to the next player. However, if the Queen is in the same space as the Gardeners or has passed them, you all lose the game!! 

Players keep going around playing tiles and guessing until they are either caught by the Queen or completely fill the garden with tiles.

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My Thoughts

I keep saying that I do not like co-op games or deduction games. However, Paint the Rose made a believer out of me. Each player has to keep their Whim card secret and they cannot talk about their own card, while everyone is discussing the cards. In a 3 plus player game, there are multiple secret cards in play; so if you can’t figure one out, you will have other options. I really enjoyed this because, usually in deduction games, if you are stuck trying to figure out the secret information you don’t have other choices. In a 2-player game, the Gardeners will receive 3 Clue Tokens and you can discard one to skip the Guess a Whim card phase. Since you can’t discuss with the other Gardener and you end up feeling stuck, you can go ahead and discard one of those Clue Tokens.  

An interesting and clever scenario that came up during our play through was that a player placed a tile that provided information on all the players’ Whim Cards and it helped us determine almost all the Whim cards that were in play. That player picked and placed his tile amazingly.

I really like how this can scale to different types of players. You can focus on the easy and medium cards and just basically ignore the hard cards.  However, if you have more of a thinky or complex player you can use more of the hard cards. 

The art for this game is great! I loved how different it was from the traditional Alice in Wonderland look! The minis look amazing and the deluxe tiles look chunky. 

Paint the Roses was not at all what I was expecting. It won me over! This game would be a hit at our household especially with the Escape the Castle expansion that adds 6 modules! 

Do yourself a favor and check the Paint the Roses Kickstarter!