Thursday, June 30, 2016

Aquarius - a simple, cute game that I've been playing for over ten years

While Fluxx is the flagship of Looney Labs and the Looney Pyramid system is their signature item, Aquarius is the little card game that has kept on trucking along since 1998. 

I picked up my first copy of Aquarius before I even started collecting games seriously. And I've been playing Aquarius off and on ever since then.

Aquarius is a game of hidden goals, laying out cards like dominos and a certain amount of chaos.

The original artwork of Aquarius  is a colorful series of retro art images of the four different elements, plus outer space. It looks like something out of the Yellow Submarine. There is also a dragon themed version of the art but I like the extra groovy original artwork. 
The deck is made up of goal cards, action cards and element cards. Even the later addition, which adds a number of cards, is easily small enough to fit into a coat pocket.

At the start of the game, everyone is dealt a random goal card. The card shows one of the five elements. You win the game by connecting seven symbols of the element on your goal card.

Everyone gets a handle of three and a turn consists of drawing a card and playing a card.

The element cards make up most of the game. You lay them out in the grid, as if they were dominoes. When you place an element card, at least one symbol on the card has to touch another symbol that's already in play. Only edges, diagonals don't count.

The action cards are where things get really crazy. The action cards let you move cards, swap hands with another player, or change the goal cards around. That last part is particularly important, since that means your goal might change during the game.

As I already mentioned, when you can trace the path of seven symbols that match your goal card, you win.

Aquarius is a very colorful game, as well as a game plays pretty quick. However, it's virtue that has proved the most important for me is that it is very accessible.

While I do like Fluxx, it's ever changing rules can be hard for some folks to enjoy or even grasp. By playing with some of the basic paradigms of games, Fluxx can be a hard sell.

In comparison, it's really easy for me to teach Aquarius. Just about anyone can grasp it. The fact that it is colorful and pretty only helps.

That is why Aquarius has often ended up in my game bag when I've been to going to conventions or such. It isn't always there, like Pico 2 or Slide 5, but it often gets packed and regularly gets played.

I know that Aquarius is going to stay in my collection. I also know that it will be a race between Aquarius and Treehouse to see what Looney Lab game my son plays first.

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