Queen of Board, or QoB, is a classic level by Dethman. It’s a staggeringly huge level and the playable area isn’t too small, either. Dethman made QoB for his level-making group, Mystic Legends (ML), in 1999 and, unlike most other levels of the time, it was almost entirely puzzle based. This level was the first ever level, whether home-cooked or official, to feature trigger zones and trigger scenery (apart from those used by crates) and the JJ2 community was dazzled. The sheer scale of QoB, its devious traps, mazes, puzzles and visual tricks was totally unheard of at the time. Even now, many say there is no bigger or more challenging puzzle level than QoB.
Technically, Queen of Board is a singleplayer pack, but since the first level is named ‘Queen of B o a r d’, most people refer to the first level when talking about QoB.
Dethman originally wanted to fill up all of the 700×700 large level space, creating a titanic puzzle level, but in the end, he settled for a monstrously large one. Basically, filling up a 700×700 large level is hard work and even someone like Dethman couldn’t cut it. So, QoB has got plenty of un-used, virgin level space and lots of empty real-estate land. Though this may seem to be a waste of space, it makes the level harder by giving the player incessant amnesia errors or Access Violations when trying to save, thus making it even more challenging (not to mention time-consuming). This was probably not intended because:
A. Dethman wanted to make the level 700×700 large in order for it to include as much of his ideas as possible.
B. Dethman, when talking about QoB after its release, said ‘I just like the idea of people walking along and getting permanently trapped.. helps encourage saving :)’, clearly stating that saving was supposed to be possible in QoB.
C. A text string inside the level reads: ‘WARNING! Save before procceeding, you are required to make a gamble. The wrong choice is death!’, which also shows that Dethman intended people to save, rather than to just make blind choices, die, and start over.
The level starts the player off in a rather generic, ‘where-am-I’ place with lots of strange places to go to, but with no apparent purpose to the objects (mostly just tiles) you find, nor is there any sense of direction. QoB doesn’t lie (it does lie, but only once), however, so the player is always wise to take its advice, unlike some other levels which goes ‘Safe to enter’, and when you do, ‘You are dead HAHAH! Try not to be so naïve next time!’. QoB is a very varied, rich and, in a way, rewarding level. As long as you do things right, there will always be new stuff for you to do or explore. The Crystal Caves of T’zar, the Red Rock Cave, the very, very annoying pink, foreground layer maze, are examples of the varied environments you could encounter (‘could’, because most people don’t get so far). The level uses some visual tricks, like enticing people to explore completely useless areas, in the hope that they may find something useful. Some places, like all those fastfires and the blaster power-up, that are tantalizingly close to the player’s start position, will confuse the player very much indeed, and there have been few levels which can mislead people so easily, and it is mainly this confusion and senselessness that makes people capitulate on the level, rather than the actual difficulty of solving the puzzles.
The level offers a feeling of isolation and strangeness. The player is a visitor to an alien land and he gets to see very simple and incredibly complex areas that don’t look like anything existing in the real world. Most places look artificial, so you’re kind of in a rat’s maze when playing QoB. Dethman has also managed to make the level develop a companionship with the player by ‘talking’ to him at key areas and urging him on. The level is unforgiving when it comes to making mistakes, but some say there might be no other singleplayer level that, when completed, gives a more euphoric ending than QoB.
QoB has achieved an almost mythical status within the JJ2 community (although, because it’s so old, it is hardly talked about). A lot of people know about it, few have played through all of it and lived to tell the tale. This is the kind of level that could be used as a base for a War Tavern story.
Eat your lima beans, Johnny.