Seven Dragons is the latest gaming creation from Andrew Looney and Looney Labs, but anyone who has played the game Aquarius from the same company will recognize many elements.
Before getting into the game play, one important thing to mention is the gorgeous artwork of Larry Elmore. The drawings on the cards are very nearly worth the game’s list price even if there was no game to play with the cards. The art has a familiar kind of Dungeons & Dragons feel to it and that’s no accident as Elmore has his roots in that type of art.
Players start with a secret goal color from the seven colored dragons, and a hand of three cards. The Silver Dragon is laid on the table as the starting card, which at this stage it is a wild card. The playing cards feature domino-like colored panels in the same manner as Aquarius.
On a player's turn they draw one card and play one from their hand. Cards are laid so as to connect matching colored panels. The winner is the first to create a connected territory of seven panels matching their dragon color. The deck also includes action cards such as Move a Card, Zap a Card, Trade Hands, etc. The used action cards form a discard pile and the top card of this pile dictates the color of the starting Silver Dragon - once the discard pile has started, the Silver Dragon is no longer wild. Players have the option of not changing the color of the Silver Dragon when they discard.
There is much of the game that feels like dominoes, though the end goal is much different. Most times the game will last around 10 to 15 minutes so a single gaming session can easily consist of several games.
The rules are easy to follow and are printed on a single, double-sided, oversize sheet of paper. It is for two to five players and can easily be grasped by kids as young as six by using some special pre-school rules included in the game.
The components include: 1 double-sided rules page and 72 playing cards, which are divided as follows: 5 goal cards; 15 action cards; 1 Silver Dragon card and 51 dragon cards.
At first glance the game might seem overly simplistic. But once defensive strategies are learned, the game has an unexpected tactical feel. For me, I am not sure that Looney Labs will ever create a game that will completely rival the brilliant Fluxx series. But Seven Dragons comes very close and is worth earning a spot on your family gaming table. The game sells for $15 and can be found in many hobby and game shops as well as directly from: http://store.looneylabs.com/