There’s just a brimming potential about a group of people with some time to kill. If you happen to be a card game with a simple concept, then this is the one moment where you’ll be truly loved. Every Singaporean student has brought a deck of cards to school before, and rather than risk the trouble of bringing banned playing cards, many resort to the UNO card game instead.
It’s not hard to see why. Almost everyone knows how to play it, so you’d be spending those precious minutes playing and not explaining. Trouble is, simple multiplayer games run the risk of being repetitive if played too often; it’s far better to have a range of games to choose from.
Mobile and tablet games, you say? Let’s be honest: they’re fun but pale in comparison to what cards bring in a group scenario. If everyone’s familiar with the rules then you’d be breezing through the game faster than any mobile device can hope to keep up with too. You may have already read what Faris thinks of locally-bred game, The Package. Today let me introduce you to dragons.
Seven Dragons by Looney Labs is about connections. It’s not about seven junior staff trying to network at a company dinner (as interesting as that sounds right now), but about chaining seven similarly-coloured dragons together. See, a universally recognised concept.
This isn’t as chaotic and random as making the first connection, of course; these are civil dragons and they appreciate order and strategy. Every player is assigned a secret Goal which tells you what colour you need to chain, one among the five available. So yes, this is a card game for two to five players.
The other two Dragons are a little special. One is the Silver Dragon, placed on the table as a starting point. The other is the super-magical Rainbow Dragon, whose multi-hued scales can choose to mimic any adjacent colour.
You may have already deduced how the game plays by now. Every player draws a hand of five cards from the deck. Starting with the Silver Dragon, a single card is placed beside it. The next player then needs to place a card that has a matching colour panel on the sides they connect.
The biggest strength of this game is bluffs. In the above image between three players, none may actually have Blue as their goal. They’d be making those Blue connections anyway, trying to read the opponents’ reaction while at the same time building a more subtle approach in achieving their own goal.
Later on in that very same game, another player noticed the Black Dragons I’ve been quietly placing at the sides and promptly blocked me off.
As the game draws on you can imagine how large and complex it can get, but it doesn’t necessarily have to be so. It depends entirely on the players involved and you may see games that have obvious set-ups and loud teasing or a more reserved session but with multiple approaches and back-up plans.
Adding a little variety to the mix are five Action Cards that are shuffled together with the deck.
We’re not big fans of these and personally, I dislike goal switching the most. It’s not so much a matter of having my plans revealed, but an issue of knowing what the other players’ goals now are. It’s less of a problem with more players though I still feel the game can happily do without it.
The one noticeable caveat to this game is the amount of space required. You’ll definitely need a large table, almost as much as a boardgame would. You might even run into the odd occasion of running out of Dragon cards, as we nearly did.
All of us at AGN agree that Seven Dragons packs a great experience. It’s officially noted as taking between 10 to 30 minutes per game but more often we’d find ourselves playing for at least 15 minutes. However, the short games tend to feel anti-climactic and not as rewarding — for all involved — as the longer ones do. If you’re looking for a good addition to your collection of quick-and-easy then this game is definitely it.
Seven Dragons is designed by Andrew Looney and features artwork from Larry Elmore. Our copy of the game was played at and provided by Gamersaurus Rex.