Dancing Dragons, a team based card game for 4-8 players, is a Tom Wham designed game published by Margaret Weis Productions.
This is MWP’s first foray into publishing a board/card game. Some of you may recognize the name Margaret Weis from various D&D themed projects during the 1980s. Margaret, and co-collaborator Tracy Hickman, designed the world of Krynn (Dragonlance) and co-wrote several novels set in this new fantasy world, all of them bestsellers. Tom Wham, on the other hand, is not an unfamiliar name to board game fans. Snit’s Revenge (1977) and Awful Green Things from Outer Space (1979) are two of his well liked early efforts.
Dancing Dragons is a fairly straightforward card game that is made up of three distinct mechanisms.
First, players are trying to collect 4 cards (head, body, wings, tail) in their hand that are all from the same color dragon, thus forming a dragon which will score them points. There are 3 types of dragons a player can form: A Dragon, the least valuable to form, is a dragon of a single color with at least one wild card as part of the dragon, A Royal Dragon is a dragon comprised entirely of one color without any wildcards, A Wild Dragon, the most valuable, is a dragon made up of the 4 wild cards in the deck.
Second, players start the game with 5 cards in hand. Every player must discard a single card to the center of the table. Once everyone has discarded one card to the center then the game begins. As quickly as they can, players may discard a single card from their hand and retrieve another card from the center of the table. All players do this simultaneous until one team scores.
Third, if a player forms a dragon (Dragon, Royal Dragon, or Wild Dragon) they cannot announce it. They must signal their partner in some way so that their partner announces that their team has a Dragon (and they must specify which dragon it is). These signals, and there should be three signals, can be worked out before the game starts.
Signals I've seen range from eyebrow waggling, nose touching, or poking and kicking under the table. This is especially amusing if the partner is still to intent on claiming cards from the center of the table to notice their partner's antics at first.
If a team announces a dragon, play stops and they reveal the dragon, then they score 1 point for a Dragon, 3 points for a Royal Dragon, and 6 points for a Wild Dragon. If a team announces a dragon, but they do not have one then the other teams each score 1 point.
However, if another team sees a player signaling, they can shout ‘Reverse Dragon’. If they shout ‘Reverse Dragon’ before the Dragon holding player’s teammate announces that they have a dragon, then all play stops and all hands are revealed. If any opposing team has a dragon then the team that called Reverse Dragon scores that dragon instead. If the opposing teams do not have a dragon, then all teams, except the one that falsely called Reverse Dragon, get 3 points.
The game is played until one team reaches 10 points.
Needless to say, this game is a massively chaotic, jump up and down, shout with glee, fast action game that ends up being more then one might expect. The strategy of this game is very simple, but it’s the journey that makes it entertaining.