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Aladdin's Dragons
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Aladdin's Dragons

English language edition of Morgenland

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Product Awards:  

Ages Play Time Players
10+ 60-90 minutes 3-5

Designer(s): Richard Breese

Manufacturer(s): Rio Grande Games, Hans im Gluck

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Product Description

Long before the sun rises in our lands, Aladdin and his friends are already busy, searching the Dragons' caves for treasure. Treasures they will take to the city to buy the magical artifacts available only in the Caliph's palace. Along the way, they may haggle with traders in the market and visit the magician to acquire his arcane spells. Taking treasures from dragons and dealing with traders and magicians may be interesting, but not as important as acquiring the Caliph's marvelous artifacts. And marvelous they are: flying carpets, magic lamps, keys to the palace, and other objects of power and wonder.

Although the rules for playing the game are simple, the strategies for winning are not. On every turn, a player must decide whether to concentrate on taking treasures, getting spells, or visiting the Caliph to barter for his artifacts.

Aladdin's Dragons is a game with subtle strategies to challenge the most ardent of game players. But the rules are simple and the game is fun and exciting for casual players.

May Allah be with you!

Product Awards

International Gamers Awards
Best Strategy Game Nominee, 2001
Games Magazine Awards
Game of the Year, 2001
Deutscher Spiele Preis
9th place, 2000

Product Information

  • Designer(s): Richard Breese

  • Manufacturer(s): Rio Grande Games, Hans im Gluck

  • Artist(s): Doris Matthaus

  • Year: 2000

  • Players: 3 - 5

  • Time: 60 - 90 minutes

  • Ages: 10 and up

  • Weight: 1,479 grams

  • All-Time Sales Rank: #155

  • Language Requirements: This is an international edition or domestic edition of an imported item. Game components are printed in English. Manufacturer's rules are printed in English.


  • 1 game board
  • 95 treasures in 5 colors of plexiglas
  • 21 magic cards
  • 45 treasure cards
  • 1 starting player camel
  • 40 tokens
  • 10 palace guards
  • 30 artifacts
  • 5 player screens
  • 1 game summary
  • 1 rule booklet

Product Reviews


Average Rating: 4.1 in 16 reviews

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Excellent Family Game...
February 24, 2002

I love it. The kids love it. My wife loves it... and that is saying quite a bit! Great game trying to outguess what others are guessing you'll think they are planning... if you catch my drift. Best with a group of people you know, it's fun for adults or for kids and adults. It's even easy to handicap advanced players; make the '8' a '1' marker for Dad, the '5' a '1' marker for Mom, and it gets a lot harder to beat the kids. One of my all time favorites.

Dumb Name, Great Game
May 09, 2001

I was really impressed with this one. I won't repeat what other people have already said and I will agree with the fact that the game can slow down if players take too long to bid. We found a remedy for that. We use a one minute timer. If you take longer then that, you don't get to lay a tile that turn. It's a big deal to lose a bidding space (even if it's your '1'), so it forces undicided people to act. Other than that minor issue, my family loves the game. I even got my mom to play something other then Rook and she ended up winning. Amazing.

by Candy
A great family game - "Can teach the next door neighbor"
January 26, 2001

I find this game to be a good family game. This is a great game that anyone could teach the next door neighbor how to play. If you enjoy blind bidding games then you need to play Aladdin's Dragons.

How many people do you know who would 'waste' a bidding token on trying to become the first player? In this game I've seen it happen many times....

I really enjoy this one!
January 18, 2001

I can't believe it, but when I first bought this game, I was afraid to open it because I began to wonder what the fun could be in it. I had read the rather mixed reviews, I had viewed the pics on the net, and suddenly I wondered if the game would be any fun to play.

Well, in one of those funny little instances that make life so interesting, Aladdin's Dragons is easily one of my favorite 'big' board games. I love Bohnanza, King of The Elves, and play them quite often with people who I would call light gamers. When I want to pull out something with more to it, Aladdin's Dragons is one of my first choices.

Imagine something a bit like poker but with more theme and way more trashtalking. The tension in this game is simply unbelievable, but it isn't the kind of tension that results in lots of down time, since really, you don't have enough info to make a competent analysis. Now some may then note that detracts from the skill involved. RIGHT! This is a BLUFFING game, and you have to like bluffing games to enjoy this, but between the bluffing, and the clever treasure-type/bid-purchase-price system for buying artifacts, I really enjoy this game.

The other nice thing about it is that anyone over the age of 12 could learn it quite easily, but there is enough to the game to be playing it years from now since it doesn't have that novelty factor that ruins the longevity of some other games. It is a solid good game that I think I'll be playing years from now--something that can't be said for some of my other games. Oh yes, and the artwork is subtly wonderful... if you buy the game and don't like it, just hang the board up on your wall as a poster.

by Tom
An Excellent Game!
December 08, 2000

I played this game tonight for the first time with a group of friends who all usually prefer party games to strategy games. I love strategy games and have been frusterated in the past trying to enjoy one with this group. To my surprise, though, they all loved it. The rules are simple enough to explain in 5-10 minutes. Within no time, we were all fiercely bidding against each other in dragon caves, the city and the palace. As each round went by we began to pick up on some of the stategies needed for success. The game comes with a big, beautiful board and lots of cool little treasures and artifacts. All of this eye candy did a great job of sustaining everyone's interest and creating the right atmosphere for the game's theme. This is one of the only games I've ever seen that pacifies both casual gamers and serious gamers at the same time. And its fun to see a casual player making seemingly whimsical bids beating a serious player who tries to calculate all the risks.

Tonight we played the basic game, but there is a more advanced version in which even more variables come into play such as magic cards and artifacts. I look foward to trying that out with my serious group of gamers. I have a feeling I will be enjoying this game for a very long time.

Playable, simple rules, good depth, fun... and bidding!
October 25, 2000

While some may say Modern Art and the genre of bidding games by creators such as Reiner Knizia represent gaming at its best, I disagree. Not everyone is a gamer. For some a game which wrings out their brain like a washcloth is fun. For others it's a bore. For some chess is a bore and Stratego is the best of games. Aladdin's Dragons takes away much of the complexity of these games, yet allows for depth as well as luck in good proportion. There is color and a rhythm to this game which creates an atmosphere of fun.

Best new game of Y2K
August 28, 2000

Though some claim that secretive actions (the bidding and magic spell holdings) make this a chaotic and random game, nothing could be further from the truth.

As players place tokens on the board, think and counter-think occurs among the other players as they decide whether or not the token is a bluff (low value) or if they should avoid that region entirely, as they don't want to escalate into a bidding war.

As a result, two playing styles emerge--the overly cautious player, who puts more than enough power into a particular area to ensure their dominance (at the expense of having a multifaceted overall strategy); and the reckless adventurer who hopes to squeak by in multiple locales (magic tent, artifacts, caves, and maybe more) only to have a slight miscalculation lead to a ruined turn.

Truly a wonderful game playable by almost any age group.

Aladdin or The Fine Art of Secret Bidding
June 20, 2000

Aladdin's Dragons is a game where the action occurs on three separate yet linked levels: the Caves, the City, and the Palace.

Each player secretly places 8 tokens in a round robin fashion in 1 of 15 possible areas. In most areas, only the top bid gets something in return. The exceptions are the caves and Aladdin's Tent where the second bid, and perhaps third and fourth, may obtain a lesser reward. Since you can't bid everywhere, you have to prioritize where your chits will fall.

After all tokens are placed, each area in resolved one-at-a-time, in a specific order. First, jewels are acquired in 1 of 5 caves. Jewels are used later to purchase artifacts in the Palace.

Next, the City locations are adjucated, where magic cards may be acquired (top two bids only). One player will earn the right to play two artifacts per turn (versus a single artifact). One player will be able to exchange 1 jewel for any 3 jewels. Lastly, one player will become the 'first player'. This last attribute is important because ties are resolved in order of placement. This means that the first player wins all ties.

Next, would-be artifact buyers must get by the Guard to enter the Palace where artifiacts may be bought. Since the game is won by the player who buys the most artifacts, avoiding the Palace is NOT an option. A chit is pulled randomly each turn to determine the value of the guard (1-10), and is not revealed until after all tokens have been placed. Players must match or exceed the guard's value to enter. Failing to achieve this, players must resort to outright bribery (bring on your jewels).

Next, the top bid in each of 5 palace room earns players the right to buy the artifact located there (one per round). The cost is the bid made. If more than one chit is bid (MAX: 5), those chits must be matched in different jewel types (ex: 2 x gold bars and 4 x pearls). Thus, the richer you are the more you can afford to bid for artifacts, beating out the competition. This could prove expensive however. Overbidding will drive you to the poor house.

All of this is pretty straightforward, except that (in the advanced game), artifacts have very nice powers that you can invoke, 1 x artifact per turn unless you are top bid in the Djinn's House.

Magic cards, some of them awfully powerful, can be used to throw the competition in total disarray although the counterspell artifact can be played to negate any one magic card.

Strategies are diverse and will vary throughout a game (usually 5 rounds). Players must adjust to varying conditions, trying to obtain something out of every token or combination of tokens.

The dilemna is that you can't be everywhere, doing everything, all of the time. Timing is crucial in artifact play and token placement. Revealing one's plan too early will see you defeated.

Aladdin's Dragons is a game that you will want to play numerous times as I doubt that any sure-win strategy could be developed, so dynamic is the bidding process. Jewel and artifact availability is also random adding to the uncertainty of the whole affair.

Aladdin's Dragons requires thinking, judicious asset management, bluffing, and a certain ruthlessness in dealing with the opposition. The fine art of backstabbing can reach a high level in this game. You could also 'play nice', if you so desire when playing with family and friends.

Buyers will be pleased with the physical components. The jewels are indeed impressive: solid colored plastic pieces (no cheapies here folks). You get 45 treasure cards: 15 for 3-player games, 15 for 4-player games, and 15 for 5-player games. This is a nice touch. The huge board is of excellent quality.

by Ron Jr
So many choices, so few treasures
July 01, 2001

How many ways can you play this game?

My parents, who dislike any mention of the words 'magic spells', prefer the simple variant where the magic cards are not used and you cannot invoke the artifacts. My Saturday gaming group tried the full-blown 5-player "bring your sneakiness over here and let's go" version and loved it, especially those of us who prefer not to overtax our brains when we play games. That's not to say that we don't enjoy serious strategy, just not 10 hours of it. A few of us want to relax and have fun. It's not always about winning, but being with friends. (But we all enjoy winning, too.)

I love this game, but it all depends on who shows up for the gaming group as to whether we break this one out or not. With the right people, a night of Aladdin's Dragons could be just the thing.

Seemingly lighter than it really is
June 28, 2001

Richard Breese is the architect and historian of a little piece of gaming real estate called the Keywood. His first game, Keywood, was about the early settlers of this land. The second, Keydom, saw this property becoming a mighty kingdom. In its third incarnation, the land became the status-conscious Keytown. One wonders what is next in the storied history of this little land.

Aladdin's Dragons is a rework of Keydom. The original game was much admired for its innovative play, but there were some problems that kept it from classic status, not the least of which was a 'kingmaker' endgame problem. Reworked by Mr. Breese in collaboration with one of the veteran designers at Hans im Gluck, it has emerged as an award-winning entry into the family gaming market.

Lest it be dismissed by gamers desiring heavier fare, let me state that Aladdin's Dragons is deceptively light. The basic version of the game is fine for the first playing or two, but the advanced rules, using magic spells and artifacts, make for a much more interesting and exciting game.

The interactions of the various artifacts, spells, and board spaces make for some tantalizing and agonizing decisions. There are never enough bidding chips to go around, so a player must make some educated guesses as to where they will do the most good. Bluffing is important, but strategy and planning will almost assuredly carry the day.

Two thumbs up for this fresh and original game. Not for all tastes, so only four stars, but a very HIGH four stars.

Don't play without magic
January 14, 2001

The first time I played this game, I played the 'basic' game recommended in the rules. It was a boring experience, and I wrote the game off. Fortunately, I read enough positive reviews of the game that I was moved to try it again, but with the 'magic' additions that make it complete. The result was a really fun game. So, take my advice, and don't bother with the basic game; play with magic from the first play.

by Mike
Aladdin's Dragon's is a Treasure
December 12, 2000

What a wonderful game! Talk about a game that hits all the 'German' game stereotypes--great bits (as can always be expected from Hans im Gluck), tremendous artwork (thanks to Doris Matthaus of Doris and Frank), agonizing decisions (where do I put the last token I have?) and very decnt player interaction (how come you put that there?). Aladdin's Dragons has all the components of a great game.

So why only four stars? A couple of things stop me from giving the highest rating. First, the game play is pretty regimented. With the exception of spell cards that get counter spelled right away and occasional clever use of an artifact, each round will be the same. Also, the winning strategy is all too obvious; pick up gems and artifacts early by ignoring the middle locations on the board.

Still, a very good game that I have played repeatedly with several different types of people. It's no El Grande or Tigris & Euphrates, but it's still a treasure and a game that I will be playing for years to come.

Fun but where is the theme?
January 08, 2004

A very clever and functional mechanism, very nice board and components. The theme however is non-existent or irrelevant. At no point did I have the feel that I was killing dragons, collecting treasures, entering the Palace or using Aladdins lamp. But then again this complaint is valid for most of Euro-German games.

Basic Game best avoided
September 30, 2001

Picked up a copy of this crowd favorite recently and tried it out--first the basic game, then the advanced game. Well, it was amazing that we played the advanced game, we were all rather bored after the sterile and flavorless play in the basic game.

With the addition of the spells and artifact effects, there is nothing for certain and there are 2 places on the game board that are now used, making the bidding phase a lot more interesting than the basic variation.

Quality gameboard graphics and nice components make for a nice visual as well as an interesting and easy to pick up game. I can't say that it was all that amazing, but I must say there were only 3 of us playing the game. More players probably makes a difference.

For specialized tastes only
May 17, 2001

This one didn't do much for me. It is indeed a bluffing game, as a previous poster mentioned, but that's all it is. It's not terrible, it's just that all you really get to do is try and guess what tokens the other players are putting down. There aren't a lot of interesting decisions to make (I just didn't find the bid-placing that exciting), which is for me (along with FUN) the main attribute of a good game.

I can see why some people like this game; it's just not my cup of tea. Be sure to take its narrow focus (at its heart it's basically a guessing game) into account when you decide whether you want to purchase it or not.

I wasn't impressed...
April 11, 2001

Played it once. The amount of time waiting for people to place their bids each round was too much for the small payoff of seeing who got what. Several players, including myself, were so bored with the game we let it end by mutual consent with one artifact still left. By that time nobody really cared. Maybe if there was a way to force people to play faster....

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