For 8 Years and Upwards +++ 2 or 4 Players +++ 20 Minutes
Designed by Oriol Comas Artwork by Amelia Sales
Available via HISPA
32 Dragon Cards +++ 8 Secret Objective Cards (4 different colours, 4 different shapes) +++ 4 Net/Harpoon Tokens +++ 1 Page Rules
DRAGONS is an interesting and visually attractive 21st Century take on "Four in a Row" .
Let's face it, everyone likes to play 4-in-a-row and who doesn't like DRAGONS ? so combining the two is a stroke of near-genius.
It is for either 2 players challenging each other or 4 players working in pairs. When playing with two certain cards are removed from play to keep the balance and to make it easy 8 of these are marked by red dots and all are clearly noted under Preparation on the Rules Sheet.
Two players are dealt 12 cards each, 4 players are dealt 8 cards each, note that when you add the 8 Red Dot cards into the deck they are shuffled in with the rest they are not a specific set for one player. In both games each player also has 1 Harpoon/Net Token (Round tiles) and 2 Secret Objective cards, making sure they receive one each of the non-coloured Dragons and the Gems (Shapes and Colours) ensuring nobody else sees what you are dealt; these are the cards you will try to match 4 in a row of in the game tableau.
After selecting a start player (the author suggests the player who is wearing the most colourful clothes, though I have no idea why. I would have thought that the last person frightened by a Dragon would have been a better choice, but make up your own minds how you select player one) there are three Actions per player Turn. The first is to place a Dragon card onto the table. As is generally the case in tile/card laying games the first player lays a single card whereas after this all players must lay their cards so they are adjacent orthogonal to at least one other Dragon in the Tableau.
The second Action is optional as it allows the player to move any other Dragon to another part of the Tableau as long as the placement rules remain and are strictly adhered to. The third Action is also optional and can only be played once per game, and that is placing their Net/Harpoon Token. If placed NET side up it prevents the Dragon under it from being moved (as in Action 2) and if placed HARPOON side up then the Dragon beneath it not only cannot be moved it also can never be part of a Flight (aka 4 in a row). Just moved Dragons cannot be Netted or Harpooned.
To Win you have to be the first player or team to make a row (aka a Flight Alignment) of four Dragons (as you may have already guessed) that match with at least one of your secret objectives. The "at least" part of that could be confusing, it certainly confused me the first time I played. I was aiming to make a complete row of either 4 Dragons that matched my secret Black Dragon card, or 4 Dragons that matched my secret Gem colour. My wife (opponent) simply played to make a Flight of four Dragons that combined both the Dragon shape and the colour of her secret objectives and then declared she had won. I checked the rules, I looked at the one possible illustration but unfortunately it doesn't illustrate the only rule that requires clarification.
It is a virtual clone of the 1974 game "Connect Four" (aka 4 in a row etc) using cards instead of plastic discs and adding in the secret Goals just to twist it a bit. The theme is actually a bit superfluous and there is no back story or preamble, it could just as well be any shapes and colours, but due to the super artwork the DRAGONS line works really well for updating, revising and introducing this 43 year-old game mechanic into the 21st Century. It's certainly changed my mind on the current upsurge in retro gaming, give it a try.