Friday, December 20, 2013

Enter the dragons...

Aladdin's Dragons is a fairly atypical game for our collection. We tend to favor adventure games to a pretty overwhelming degree, especially games set in well-developed worlds often based on pre-existing literary, television or film properties (witness the ridiculous number of Doctor Who, Lord of the Rings and Star Trek games on our list).

One of the main reasons I play games is to immerse myself in another world. I often find that watching Star Trek makes me want to play the Star Trek Customizable Card Game, and reading superhero comics almost always puts me in the mood to play Heroclix.

Aladdin's Dragons offers little in the way of world immersion. It's not based on a particular film or book, and makes only vague references to Arabian Nights-style adventure tales. It may not take place in a detailed world, but the game play itself is very absorbing.

It is essentially a bidding game: each player has a set of numbered tokens, which they bid face down one by one to different areas of the board. After all the players' tokens have been bid, each space is totaled, and the winner gains the advantage of that space for the turn. The basic strategy is to gain treasure in the cave spaces, and then spend that treasure to buy magic artifacts in the palace spaces. Once all the artifacts have been bought, the player with the most artifacts wins.

Advanced rules give the artifacts special abilities, making a player's decision of which artifact to purchase more critical. They also add spell cards which can be purchased and used to manipulate the game.

Since it requires at least 3 players, we had to wait until we had some friends over to play. Neither are hardcore board gamers, although they both play Magic: the Gathering and have played many board games with us in the past. Usually we spend as much time socializing as we do actually playing, but this time we were all completely engrossed in the game, plotting strategy and discussing what the best moves might be.

Unfortunately Aladdin's Dragons is long out of print. It's a great casual game which is easy to play and teach, but has a fair amount of things to think about during the game.

Rating: 4 (out of 5) In spite of it not being our usual type of game, we always enjoy Aladdin's Dragons, but unfortunately the 3-5 player requirement keeps us from playing it as often as we'd like.

Date played: December 1, 2013

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