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About Mary Flanagan

I’m a game designer, artist and scholar of games and new media and the creator of Monarch. I’ve been designing games for over 20 years in all forms: board games, card games, digital games, sports, and more. I’ve picked up a few awards over the years for these games, yay! Check them out on Board Game Geek, take a peek at my artwork and books, and read about my research lab, Tiltfactor. Never stop playing!

The Vision


Both Empresses and Queens had more power than the history books have granted them. I have long been fascinated by the stories of Medieval Queens and stories of fantastic Chinese Empresses. These women were highly trained and truly well rounded, clever people (did you know, for example, Empress Xi Ling Shi invented silk?).

There are more stories about Queens you may not know. In the tales passed down to us, these women not only faced a violent world of battles and sieges, but they battled with magical powers, cunning family members, and challenging ethical dilemmas as well. To be venerated future leaders, the Queen’s daughters needed to be strong and influential women: expert strategists, socialites, and finance wizards cultured in languages, literature and music.

Essential to the game are its pan-cultural influences. Players will see elements of both Western and Eastern inspiration in the art and objects featured in the court. I wanted a game world that could span continents and time periods, wrapping the player in a rich, pan-cultural fiction that could appeal to a contemporary global imagination.

The game brewed in my mind for years during my travels around the world, especially while in Hong Kong and Taiwan. I put down the designs for the game and crafted the first prototype game while visiting Utrecht in 2011 and avidly reading about Flemish Empress Matilda’s adventures governing Normandy. It’s been a labor of love ever since! I’d like to thank all of the play testers who tried different versions of the game, fellow designers who offered ideas and improvements on how the game works, and friends who listened to late night explanations of the world of Monarch. I know you will love this game as much as I do (and—hopefully—its upcoming sequels!).