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Subject: Seven Dragons: A Fun, Though Themeless, Game rss

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Drew McKinney
United States
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Note: This is my second review here on BGG, and I have changed my system slightly from my first review, as I’m still working out the kinks.

Game Introduction

In Seven Dragons, players are racing to connect seven panels of a dragon of the same color as on their secret goal card. They do this by playing card of one to four panels—sometimes to increase their goal’s color, and sometimes to block their opponents. Action cards can be played instead to affect the game in some way.

Gameplay & Fun Factor (10 possible points)

Seven Dragons is delightfully simple. On your turn, draw a card and play a card—that’s it. If you play a dragon card to the tableau, one of its panels must match a panel it touches, and there a few rules for the orientations in which cards can be played. You start the game with three cards, but if you match two (or more) panels on the card you played to a non-wild dragons, you draw an extra card (or several), increasing your hand size. Instead of playing a dragon card, you can play an action card. Action cards let you trade hands, trade goals, rotate goals, move a card already played, or “zap a card” (remove it from the tableau and place it in your hand). Each type of action card matches the color of one dragon, and playing it changes the color of one of the wild dragons to be that color. For example, playing a Rotate Goals card, which is blue, makes the wild Silver Dragon a blue dragon. If players do not want to change the color, they are allowed to just play the action; likewise, if they only want to change the color, they skip the action; they must do at least the action or changing of color, though. Once someone has a single, nebulous connection of seven panels of their goal color, they win! If this does not happen by the time someone has played all their cards, the people with the greatest number of panels in their goal colors win. Don’t like ties? Play again!

When I bought Seven Dragons, I was mostly intrigued by the art and was on the fence about the gameplay. But it was cheap, so I got it, and I am so glad I did. This game is fun! There’s a good tension between trying to progress your own goal and trying to block other players’ attempts. You have to be careful, though: a smartly timed action card can make your progress someone else’s. It’s so much fun, and the quick length ensures Seven Dragons doesn’t overstay its welcome. I give the gameplay and fun factor an 9 out of 10 possible points.

Story & Theme (3 pp)

You’re connecting pictures of dragons. There’s no story or theme. 0 out of 5 possible points.

Look & Feel (5 pp)

The game comes in a tiny, somewhat thin box that stays nicely closed and offers finger gaps for ease of opening. The cards themselves have black borders, so light wear and tear shows quickly. The cards are of good quality, though, and are easy to shuffle. I have to add that I like the way this game smells; it reminds me of books that I read as a child. It’s not a strong scent at all, so there’s no worry there, but I noticed it and liked it, so I wanted to comment on it.

The artwork is gorgeous, and that’s rather expected since the artist is Larry Elmore. The dragons look just as you want them too, and each color expresses its own theme. There are only seven pictures in the game, though, which is a disappointment, but that probably makes it easier to see the connections, so I’ll take usability over extra art.

My only criticism is the green dragon. That dragon is being ridden by a scantily clad woman. Let me be clear here: I do not mind sexuality in games at all. But a woman being used only for her sexual appeal is offensive. If you’re going to include women for sexual purposes, at least include men, too. Heck, why stop there? Include gender neutral individuals as well! This is easily a family game, so let’s not market sexism as a family value. Of course, this is a game about dragons, so I’m not sure why we needed people, sexually depicted or otherwise, in the first place. For these reasons, I give the look & feel 4 out of 5 possible points.

Replayability (7 pp)

Replayability is quite high: Goals are randomly distributed, and all five are always included, no matter the player count. The deck is shuffled and randomized, so it’s unlikely that any two games will be the same. That said, strategy isn’t huge, so those who rate replayability by variety in strategy will be disappointed. This game doesn’t take up so much time that some sameyness affects me, though. The game also supports two to five players, and all player counts work well, so this game can easily be brought out in many gaming groups. I give replayability 6 out of 7 possible points.

Final Thoughts

Woo, do I like this game! For the game length, the strategy and enjoyment are just perfect. The length also means I can get a quick play in here and there, even when other, heavier games are hitting the table. My only wish is that the game had at least some theme—that always pulls me into the experience even more.

The final score is cumulative: 9 + 0 + 4 + 6 = 19 out of 25 possible points, or 76%. Recommended.
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Edward B.
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Seven Dragons is more fun than it looks. It's one of my favorite card games just for ease of play. It's not one of those games where you think "Man, that was awesome!" after playing, but it is a consistently enjoyable experience that hits it just right on the playing time. It's a game that I've played over and over with nongamers, who have been able to enjoy it.

The scantily clad woman isn't that scantily clad, but I do have to admit that it's the only picture with a person on it... so I can kinda get it. I'm guessing not that much thought went into it... it's all Larry Elmore art, so those may have just been the images the publisher/designer was able to get.

Thanks for the review!
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I won an Games for Geekgold Lottery with 0.09% Chance of winning. You sure you wanna mess with me?
No theme - talk to my 3-year old...

She refuses to join me playing this game, when I play with my 6-year old because of the "bones" on the Black-Dragon cards.
She also pondered if the dragon "already ate the man".

Sometimes games have so much more theme than we adults are able to see...
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