Tom had requested this a couple of times before, so right after he asked if we could squeeze in El Grande, Rick brought Aladdin's Dragons instead. A brief refresher on rules (according to my log, we last played it almost exactly 2 years ago!) and we were off. Mike jumped out to the early lead by snagging 2 artifacts first round and continuing to do so with his 1 token, which would be placed in the right place so that no one else played next to it or else was then unable to pay the asking price.
Tom: 4 artifacts
Mike: 5 artifacts
Rick: 3 artifacts
Me: 6 artifacts
I will admit to a certain amount of trepidation playing Aladdin's Dragons, especially as a lunch time game. I think it is more comfortably played in a little over an hour, though in our game today, we all but finished in the hour, even including some mis-plays which if corrected would have pushed us toward the end of the game (there would have been two more rounds at least to get all the artifacts, but slightly better play would hav ecut that by a round). The other source of trepidation is its combination of blind bidding (not at the top of my list of favorite mechanics) with some card play that can really ruin even the best laid plans. Some small details in the rules can make big changes in how it plays out (as we saw today) and under time pressure as we were there was no way to retrace the turns and undo the mis-play.
That all said, there is still a lot to like about this game. Sure, it is annoying when you bid 8 and 9 to beat out your opponent's 1 and 4, but the range of numbers is not so great that you can't have some idea of how things are playing out. For the most part it rewards careful play and puts up some tricky decisions: do you use your spell now to win or save your play for your key to get in the palace? Do you concentrate on winning gems and neglect the spells or the palace? What is Plan B if you don't win the red gems?
There is certainly a good amount of chaos in the game though and that alone makes it a game that is not for everyone. There are plenty of ways to mess with your opponents. So if you can take the rough with the smooth, it is worth a look.