50 Games in 50 Weeks: Seven Dragons

Sep 14 2011

Just finished playing a game of Seven Dragons, a strategy card game by Looney Labs. It manages to find an excellent middle ground between ease of comprehension and strategic options.

Seven Dragons card game

Seven Dragons © Looney Labs

The rules can be easily explained in 10 minutes (though I botched one of the rules’ aspects). After you begin playing and once you hit the game’s midpoint, your strategic options become complex and interesting.

It’s something of a pattern-matching game. A silver dragon card is placed in the center of the table, then each player draws 3 dragon cards and one goal card (all kept secret from other players). The dragon cards have differently-colored dragon panels on them, and the goal card has one colored dragon. Each turn, each player draws a card into their hand, then lays down a card next to an existing card on the table, with the goal of connecting seven panels that all have the same color as the player’s goal card.

The draw pile also contains action cards that let players swap goals, swap hands, move a card on the table, etc. This makes the latter half of the game particularly intense, as chains built earlier are abandoned for new goals and precise placement becomes much more important to prevent other players from completing chains.

It’s not Risk, of course, but for a US $12-$15 game that you can teach quickly and get through in 30 to 60 minutes, I’m impressed at its depth. Bonus: elements of the system can be easily dropped to make the game easier for kids to understand.

You can buy Seven Dragons directly from Looney Labs.

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