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Aquarius: A dominos style game without the suck


Aquarius is one of those games that has been around for years, and I was familiar with its exsistance, but until a couple of days ago I had never had the opportunity to play. Although I freely admit that I may have shirked away from it due to the manufacturer, Looney Labs, who are also the makers of Fluxx and Treehouse, two games whose randomness drives me a little batty.

What I found though, is that while Aquarius has some randomness, it also has some really good game play. On your turn you “draw one, play one” a classic game mechanic that is present at the start of Looney Labs other hit game, Fluxx.

Aquarius is played using a deck of cards that contains action cards, element cards, and goal cards. The goals are exactly what they sound like: what you are trying to achieve in order to win the game. Your goal is listed as one of five elements, in which you are trying to get seven of to touch. Action cards are the ones that let you perform special abilities such as moving cards or causing the goals to change. Element cards are the meat of the game. These are cards that display one or more of the five elements, and are played onto the playing surface. When you play a card you must play it on the playing surface in much the same way you would with dominoes, your element card must orthagonally touch a card with a similar element. This limits the randomness of the game to whatever you happen to draw from the deck on your draw phase.

Aquarius Playing Surface

The winner is the person who gets seven elements of thier type touching first. However to trip people up along the way you can remove (zap) cards from the playing surface, move cards, trade goals, and shuffle goals. All of these actions are initiated via the effect cards that can be drawn from the deck.

For a relaxed filler game, I really enjoyed Aquarius.  I actually think it may be my favorite Looney Labs game to date.  There is enough skill and thought involved to keep it interesting, but is light enough that it isn’t hard to get people to play.  The play time was also only roughly 15-20 minutes, which is a nice time frame for a game of this style.  Much longer and you could easily get bored, much shorter and it wouldn’t feel satisfying.

This entry was posted by The_Null_Entry on Tuesday, October 26th, 2010 at 9:11 am and is filed under Board Game Reviews, Luck and Betting Games .
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  1. parkrrrr says:

    Have you played Chrononauts or the newer but similar Back to the Future card game, also from Looney Labs? If so, how do you feel their randomness compares to Aquarius?

    (If not, come join us in Fort Wayne some night and I’ll see if I can find a couple other people to play it.)

  2. I have played Chrononauts, but not the Back to the Future card game. While my husband really likes Chrononauts, I’m kinda luke warm on it. I certainly don’t loathe it as much as Fluxx, but it doesn’t give me a thrill. I think the problem with it is still the feeling that the game is playing itself. There isn’t really a lot of choice, it’s luck of the draw, and you just play whatever you happen to have. I also find the back and forth a bit tedius. I mean, how many times do we really need to kill and then revive Hitler?!

    My fall is really hectic, but I may have to take you up on an evening of gaming some time. :-)

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