If you like games that get the youth moving, burning energy, and having a lot of fun, then Dragon Tail is for your teens! The rules for Dragon Tail can be taught in just a minute, but your group will beg to keep playing it because of how wild and crazy it gets. Plus, this game requires practically no ahead-of-time setup and uses materials you probably have on hand. So keep reading for more instructions on how to play Dragon Tail, and get ready to introduce this fun game to your group!
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Number of Players – 8 Minimum
Materials Needed – Long Pieces Of Ribbon (or other soft, strand-like material), duct tape
Considerations Before Playing The Game
In this game, your teens will divide into groups of 5 to form “dragons” by interlinking their arms together. If you have enough youths to create at least 4 teams, then you should follow the “Large Group Variation,” which is described at the bottom of this post. Assuming you have a smaller group and are playing with less than 20 teens, you’ll want to follow the standard instructions for this game.
You’ll need a good size, open space to play this game. An open field, gym, or open floor recreational hall should serve well.
The only material that is needed for this game is something to serve as the actual dragon tails. You can use a spool of ribbon, or even make the tail from duct tape that has been folded back on itself (so that the sticky sides are together. The last player linked together will wear the dragon tail for each round of the game. The tail should be long enough so that it drags on the floor behind the last player, so you’ll need 6-7 feet (or around 2.5 meters) of material to make each tail.
Each tail will be taped to the upper back/shoulders of the final player. After each tail capture, you’ll need to stop briefly to reattach the tail. Be sure to keep the duct tape at the ready to reattach the tails if needed!
Game Instruction (Read Aloud To Group)
For Larger Groups, Check Out The Large Group Variation Below
We’re going to play a game called Dragon’s Tail! In this game, we will first divide into groups of 5 (or as close to that number as possible). During gameplay, each member of a dragon links arms together to form one unit, which is the “Dragon.” Each group decides who will be the “Dragon Head” which is the player in the front of the dragon, and who will have the “Dragon Tail,” which is the last person in the linked Dragon. Before starting, the “Dragon Tail,” which is a long ribbon, will be taped to the upper back or shoulders of the last person in their “Dragon.” After the “Dragon Tails” are attached, the teams will link arms and move to opposite sides of the playing space.
The goal of the game is to capture the enemy “Dragon’s Tail” by grabbing it and pulling it off the enemy dragon. Any player BUT the “Dragon Head” can capture the opponent “Dragon Tail.” The “Dragon Head” can only lead the other players in their “Dragon.” Each time the tail is captured, the last person is removed from the “Dragon” and the tail is reattached to the next player in line. However, while the tail is being reattached, other “Dragons” playing in the game can continue to move and attack other “Dragons.” The person who was carrying the “Dragon Tail” then moves to the side out of the playing area to cheer on their team.
The goal of the game is to shorten the opponent “Dragon” to the point that only the “Dragon Head” remains, at which point the game is over. The “Dragon Tail” cannot be attached to the “Dragon Head.” After losing the final tail, the “Dragon Head” also leaves the playing area.
If the link of arms on any “Dragon” is broken during the game, then only the segments of the “Dragon” attached to the “Dragon Head” are able to move. The rest of the “Dragon” must stop where they are and wait for the “Dragon Head” to lead the rest of the “Dragon” back to link arms again. Be careful not to break arms, because your “Dragon Tail” will be unable to move and defend itself!
The game ends when all but one “Dragon” has been reduced to nothing but a “Dragon Head” and the winning “Dragon” is declared.
Encourage the teens to think strategically about how to defend the tail while attacking other “Dragons” for their tail. For example, the youth group try circling up their “Dragon” with the tail in the center. Or the “Dragon” could move in a zig zag or other pattern that makes it more difficult to get to their tail. You may want to provide a couple practice rounds to give your youth time to learn the game and understand what strategies work best for their team.
Large Group Variation
If you have a large number of teens, with lots of “Dragons” you may want to consider limiting the number of times their tail can be captured before the entire team is out. For example, you may reduce the number to only a single capture, which will lead to more careful gameplay among the groups.
You can of course play with the standard rules, but the logistics of attaching the tail and stopping the game for reattachment might make it easier to simply have one elimination per round, rather than reducing the “Dragon” down to just its head.