REVIEW – 7 Wonders

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7 WondersName: 7 Wonders
Publisher: Asmodee
Type: Strategy game
Players: 2-7
Best with: 2-7
Length of Playtime: 30-45 minutes

 

Give It to Me Quick: 7 Wonders is a beautifully designed, medium weight, fast paced civilization building game. Its design is complex yet accessible. You’ll be choosing cards from hands that you pass around the table, building your civilization. You’ll be making long term game decisions, but also turn by turn decisions that change depending on what others have played around you. You’ll score Victory points by many different ways depending on the cards you have played.

At the end of a five player game.

At the end of a five player game.

Gameplay Summary

7 Wonders has a lot of nuances that I won’t explain here in this summary. I’ll just touch on the basics.

Before game start, players are randomly given a civilization’s Wonder, based on the seven wonders of the ancient world. Each Wonder has two, three, or four stages of building, that, if built, give the player a unique bonus during the game. Some of these bonuses are additional resources, Victory Points, military points, or several other options.

the Hanging Gardens of Babylon, with its unique Wonder stages

the Hanging Gardens of Babylon, with its unique Wonder stages

The entire game is divided up into three Ages. During each Age, players will be taking cards from hands that are passed around the table from player to player. Each player will select the card that they wish to build, assuming that they have the required resources and/or coin needed to do so, and then pass the hand to the next player. Players are also aware of what their neighbors are doing, since they may need to (or want to) purchase resources that their neighbors are producing.

Resource cards to add to your civilization's production.

Resource cards add to your civilization’s production.

Hands continue being passed around the table until the cards for the Age are exhausted. At the end of each age, a military battle occurs between each player and their immediate neighbors. If a player has more military strength (determined either by cards or Wonders built during the game), they win the battle, giving a Victory point prize that increases at the end of each succeeding Age.

Military strength is just one of many different strategies.

Military strength is just one of many different strategies.

At the end of the third Age, points are tallied across 8 different point categories, representing economic strength, military strength, science development, Wonder construction, and several others. The player with the most Victory points wins the game.

 

How many players is it best with?

Gameplay with the card drafting mechanic is perfectly suited from 3-7 players.  An expansion adds cards for an 8th player. Since all players play at the same time, adding more players doesn’t really add to the length of the game.

Quick note on the two player variant: it feels like a different game, as it introduces the idea of a “dummy” neighboring player which both players take turns playing for. Of course, each player is trying to play cards that benefit them; this can create some analysis paralysis where there are SO MANY different options to go with. For example, try looking at 6 cards for your turn and then 6 for the dummy hand, all of which can interact differently with each other. Don’t forget to decide if it’s cheaper to buy resources from the dummy player if you can then buy resources back from yourself. Oh, and don’t forget to keep an eye on your opponent. Lot to keep track of. The two player game is designed well, but 7 Wonders is really built to handle a larger amount of players.

 

Our Positives

7 Wonders looks fantastic. The theme is interesting; the artwork, cards, and Wonder game boards beautiful. The Age 1, 2, 3 progression is really cool, with Age 1 cards typically serving as the foundation to your civilization – resources, markets. Age 2 starts to introduce mid-game resources and more developed science/military/economic options. Age 3 introduces late game victory points as well as the purple Guilds, which give Victory points depending on the type of cards that have been played by you and your neighbors during the game.

The art is fantastic.

The art is wonderfully done.

The first thing that a new player will assume is that building their Wonder is the key to winning the game. This isn’t necessarily true, as the game can be won with many different strategies, often dependent on what players are doing around you. Someone stockpiling armies? Maybe build science instead. Someone flush with resources? Build up coin, markets, and buy their resources for cheap to build blue Victory points. All these different decisions are always at play every game, and they change depending on your opponent’s playstyle. Fantastic.

Blue Victory point cards - the most direct way to success. This one costs two stone resources, one ore, and one glass.

Blue Victory point cards – the most direct way to success. This one costs two stone resources, one ore, and one glass.

7 Wonders is light enough to play through fairly quickly. Due to the mechanics of the game, every player is doing something every turn, and it seamlessly plays with 2 to 7 players.  It’s a medium weight game that’s more complex than, say, Ticket to Ride, but not so complex that it is unapproachable to new gamers. It’s a good second or third “modern game” to introduce.

Gain military Victory Point sin battle.

Has some icons that need to be learned, but one time through will fix that.

Our Negatives

As is sometimes the case with medium weight euro-strategy games, the beginning part of the game with the same group of players can start to repeat if everyone sticks with the same strategy. You might have the science player keep going for science each time, military for military, etc. The changing Wonders from game to game help to break this up somewhat.

If someone across the table from you is building up a civilization that rivals yours, there isn’t really a lot you can do about it, except take a card they are looking for before they have a chance to take it. Even if they are directly next to you, the only real option you have is spending some turns to build up military power (a strategy whose worth is debatable).

Sometimes, analysis paralysis takes hold of players due to the large amount of decisions available from turn to turn. The limited size of the hands (which dwindles as the Age progresses) help mitigate this, however.

 

Accessibility:

playbegins_accessibility6

 

 

 

 

35_party for a Party Probably not, too much to explain to a new group.
casual Casual Yes, though it’s more complex than it looks at first glance due to of the different icons.
35_competitive Competitive Definitely, players will be making decisions that affect their opponents all the time.
35_strategy Strategic Yes, certainly.

 

Final Thoughts on 7 Wonders

It’s not too often that exceptional gameplay gets paired with sharp, enticing artwork, but 7 Wonders is that game. We’ve played scores of games in many different groups. It’s perfect for a large group that doesn’t want to play a standard “party” game, but still want some strategy.  Its gameplay is simple enough after it’s explained and played through once. 7 Wonders is one of our group’s favorite games and I don’t see that changing for a long time.

 

Expansions Available:  Cities    Leaders    Babel     Wonder Pack

Check out more reviews!

 

7 Wonders

9.125

Replayability

85/10

    Engagement

    95/10

      Game Mechanics

      90/10

        Theme/Fun

        95/10

          Likes

          • - Great mix of strategy and accessibility
          • - Plays with small or large groups
          • - Fantastic art design

          Dislikes

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