Seven Dragons Review
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Players: 2-5 (ages 6+)
Playing Time: 10-20 minutes

Many games have a very specific target audience. You can find fun games for kids that will lost parents’ interest after just a few minutes. Or you can find games that challenge adults but confuse kids. But the rocket scientists turned game designers at Looney Labs have managed to come up with a number of games that are both fun and easy for kids and strategic enough for adults. Their latest is the fantasy-themed card game Seven Dragons.

The game play for Seven Dragons is similar to that of an earlier Looney Labs release, Aquarius. Before the game begins, each player is given a Goal card, which depicts one of five colored dragons: red, blue, yellow, green, or black. Players are also dealt three playing cards. These cards generally feature images of the five colored dragons in some form. A card could have just a single dragon depicted—or it could have up to four different panels showing four different dragons.

Once the game begins, players take turns laying cards on the playing surface in a kind of domino style—connecting cards by placing them beside each other in such a way that at least one dragon from the card played is placed beside a matching dragon. The object of the game, then, is to create a chain of cards, linking seven dragons in the color shown on your Goal card.

Of course, it isn’t all simple and straightforward. The deck also includes a number of Action cards, which allow you to trade hands, move cards, switch Goals, or otherwise get in your opponents’ way.

Like Aquarius, Seven Dragons is a game that players of all ages can enjoy. While the preschooler-friendly rules from Aquarius are still included with Seven Dragons, though, fantasy artist Larry Elmore’s illustrations (complete with skeletons, fire-breathers, and a shapely dragon-riding elf) give the game a darker, more grown-up feel than its cute and colorful cousin. The Action cards, too, add a few more challenging twists to the game—especially with the inclusion of the new Silver Dragon start card, which can change colors at any time to throw players off their card-connecting course.

Still, Seven Dragons has the perfect mix of strategy and simplicity. Without any reading or complex calculations involved, the game is easy enough for younger players. Basically, it’s a simple color-matching game—with just a few additional twists. Or, as the rules for younger players suggest, you can always remove the Action cards and stick the basic color-matching.

At the same time, though, more advanced players will still be challenged by the game’s various strategic possibilities. This isn’t the kind of intense card game that will have you playing for hours in silence, agonizing over each upcoming turn—but it’s definitely challenging enough to keep even the most competitive gamers from losing interest.

You can play it straight, or you can make it more competitive. It can be quick and simple pick for a fun family game night, or it can be a more calculated game for the grown-ups. Either way, Seven Dragons is an easy-going card game with plenty of intriguing twists that are sure to keep you, your family, and your gamer friends coming back for more.

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