At first I hesitated to write a review for Hydras because so far I've only played it with my kids, and I suspect that there's more strategy to this game than they can grasp. (And me too, frankly - I usually play miniature games like Warhammer 40,000 where we just push models around the tabletop and make things go "boom!")
But the visual style of the cards/tiles used in Hydras is certainly appealing to children (and adults too - I think they're adorable!) so parents will undoubtedly be wondering if this is a good kids game.
I think Hydras succeeds on two levels. There's enough strategic depth here to satisfy adults, and yet the rules are simple enough that even young kids will be able to understand them well enough to play. My youngest daughter is seven, and she loves the game. (She also loves just playing with the tiles by herself, building the largest hydra she can.)
Hydras is a print-and-play game for two to four, in which players take turns playing square cards/tiles to grow their hydras. The player with the most heads on their hydra at the end of the game wins.
Simple enough, but along with basic neck tiles (with and without heads) the game also includes sword, poison breath, and torch tiles.
Sword tiles can be played as either necks to extend the growth of your own hydra, or swords to cut off the necks of your opponents' hydras. However, swords cannot be used on tiles that have three or more tiles touching them (diagonal tiles don't count as touching) so it's possible to grow your hydra in a manner that protects your necks.
Poison Breath tiles can be played at any time to interrupt and prevent an opponent from playing a sword, torch, or poison breath tile on you.
And Torches prevent a player from growing any further tiles from the neck they're played on. (But a sword can be used to remove a torch.)
The game only takes fifteen to thirty minutes to play, and it's great fun. Hydras is now our favorite family game, replacing old favorites such as Clue and Yahtzee, as well as new discoveries like Castle Panic and Forbidden Island.
Hydras come in both color and black and white versions. I'm cheap so I printed up a b&w set, and now that I see how much the kids love it, I'll go back and make up a color set.
Also, instead of printing the tiles onto cardstock, I printed on regular paper and used glue sticks to attach the paper to foam card. The kids and I love our nice thick tiles, and the set still fits in a 15" long card box.
The rules are only two pages long, so I printed them on both sides of a single sheet of cardstock, which I then folded "accordion style" so it fits in our card box.