Seven Dragons

I love backpacking, hiking, and camping so I am always looking for good games to take along on my outdoor adventures. I picked up Seven Dragons as a trade add-on without knowing much about it, and it quickly became my go-to backpacking game. I'm not really sure why this happened; maybe because it's quick, easy to get in to, and fairly inexpensive. Regardless, I've spent many afternoons and evenings hunkered down in the dirt or in my tent playing Seven Dragons.
Synopsis: Seven Dragons is a small card game in which players are attempting to connect seven dragons of a certain color. On a player's turn, they will place a dragon card using a domino-like mechanism or play an action card, which will change the state of the board.

Designer: Andrew Looney

Publisher: Looney Labs

Player Count: Seven Dragons plays 2-5 players and scales well with the full range of players.

Game Length: A game of Seven Dragons can be played in around 15 minutes making it the perfect length for a quick filler.
To start the game, the wild silver dragon is placed in the middle of the table as the start of the playing field. Every player receives a secret goal card showing the color of a dragon and a starting hand of 3 cards. The object of Seven Dragons is to be the first player to connect seven dragons of the color shown on their goal card.

Gameplay begins with the first player and continues clockwise. On a player's turn, they will first draw a card and then play a card. When playing a card, players can play a dragon card or play an action card.

Play a Dragon Card: The majority of the cards in Seven Dragons are dragon cards which feature dragons from the 5 main dragon colors (gold, black, red, blue, and green). Players place the dragon cards on the arrangement of dragons in the middle of the table and must place the dragon cards such that at least one dragon is matching an adjacent dragon. Only one dragon has to match but if additional matches are made, the player draws bonus cards for each additional match.

Play an Action Card: Seven Dragons also has 5 different types of action cards. Instead of playing a dragon card, players can play an action card. Players take the action of the card and then discard the action card either on top of the white dragon or below it. The white dragon starts out as wild but can change colors depending on the last discarded action card. The action cards are Move a Card, Zap (remove) a Card, Trade Hands, Trade Goals, and Rotate Goals.

The game is over when one player gets a group of 7 contiguously connected dragons of their color. The game can also end when the deck runs out, at which point the winner is whoever has the most dragons connected.

My Opinion
What I Like
The Accessibility: Seven Dragons is easy to teach, short to play, and inexpensive to purchase so it hits the table (or more accurately, hits the tent floor) fairly frequently. The matching mechanism is familiar so the game doesn't feel out of most people's comfort zone. The strategy is easy to grasp allowing anyone to be competitive.

The Artwork: Dragons and Larry Elmore... nice! I love dragons and Larry Elmore, of Dungeons & Dragons art fame, does not disappoint. The dragon artwork is one of the main reasons I got Seven Dragons.
What I Dislike
The Randomness: The action cards can make the game fairly random and players have to know that going in to the game. One player can be about to win only to have his goal card stolen at the last minute by another player using the Trade Goals action card. This can be frustrating but is also a strategy of the game. I was nervous about the randomness when I got the game, and although it is a big part of Seven Dragons, it doesn't bother me too much due to short game length.

The Lack of Artwork Variability: I love the artwork but there aren't enough different pieces. The five color dragons are different but every card of a color is the same (i.e. all the black dragons are the same); this means that there are only 7 pieces of art in the game. I wish there would've been more illustrations to fuel my dragon passion.
Final Thoughts
If you're looking for a deep game, look elsewhere, but if you love dragons and are looking for a short filler, Seven Dragons will fill that niche. It's quick, fun, and easy to get to the table which earns it a recommendations from me.