Even though 7 Wonders shot to the top of the hotness, I was initially uninterested. This is mostly because of the little research I did on the game didn’t make it sound like anything all that different than any other games out there. Granted, most of the stuff I was reading was just comparing 7 Wonders to Fairy Tale. And while I like Fairy Tale, I didn’t need another version that didn’t even play well with 2 players.
So then a buddy in my gaming group mentioned to me that he really wanted to try it because it has a civilization building element and that it would work with his family. He added it to an order with a few other games, one of which (Showmanager) was delayed over and over again. Itching to get the game in hand, he actually ordered another copy with a recent order that I made. What this meant for me, was that he would have an extra copy available. After a few plays with him, my fiancée and I, my better half “instructed” me to pick up this game. So, of course, I listened!
Conclusion spoiler (For those who like to get right to the point)
Feels heavier than a filler and that’s a good thing! Extremely accessible to any level of gamer. The rules can take a little long to explain because of all the icons, but once the game starts, very little questions come up. Good replayability even though you see many of the same cards every game.
Brief rundown of the rules (Skip if you know how to play)
The setup is very simple since the game is just made up of 3 decks of cards, 1 for each age, and some chits for currency and military points. After each player selects their civilization, they are given 3 coins, and 7 Age I cards. Some civilizations give the player more money to start the game out with, so they would just take the coins to start the game.
Each of the three ages are played over 6 turns, with the last card in your hand being discarded after turn 6. A player can perform one of three actions each turn: “Sell” a card for 3 coins, build a structure or construct the lowest available level of their wonder. After selecting a card, each player passes their hand to one of their neighbors (clockwise in Age I & III, counter-clockwise in Age II).
Build a structure or produce resources: Pay the amount listed in the top left of the card. For resource cards (brown and gray backgrounds) the player slides the card under the top left of their board, so it creates a staggered stack of cards so you can track all of resources you have available, along with making it easy for other players to see the resources that are available to purchase. Built structures, other than resources, are placed in front of the player’s board. These cards can be military structures (red), civilian structures (blue), scientific structures (green), commercial structures (yellow) and guilds (purple & only available in Age III).
Break down of each structure type
Civilian: Straight victory point cards. Many of these structures allow for chaining, so they can be important to invest in early in the game.
Scientific: Can be a way to score huge points if the player is able to collect matching symbols throughout the game. Points are exponential based on the quantity of symbols collected (i.e. 3 of the same symbol is worth 9 points, 4 is worth 16, etc.).
Commercial: These structures can earn money, victory points, 1 free resource per turn or allow for cheaper trading with neighbors.
Guilds: Guild structures are only available in Age III and will vary from game to game as you only include 2+ the number of players. These can earn players a large number of points if they’re able to acquire guilds that match up with the structures that have built throughout the game. Points and money generated by guilds are largely dependent on the number of other structures that have been built.
Impressions after many plays
I’m a big fan of games where you feel like you’re building something or you can at least see your progression as the game moves along. 7 Wonders does a terrific job of ramping up the complexity as you move through each age. Early in the game, players must collect resources, but must also keep an eye out for structures that allow chained buildings. Keeping a good supply of money is important as well since late in the game you will inevitably be one resource short on a building you want to construct. With a good supply of coins there is no issue, just buy it from a neighbor.
I’ve played 7 Wonders with 2, 3 (a few times) and 5. So far I’ve enjoyed my 3 player sessions the most because it is just much easier to keep track of what only 2 other players are doing. There is also a much higher chance that you can pass on a card, but get the opportunity to be able to build it later in the round. With 5 players, you’ll essentially see new cards every turn, which can be a nice change of pace, but it makes long term planning more difficult. The one 2 player session we had worked, but just didn’t have the same pace and feel as a 3 player game. Each turn one player selects a card for themself and one for the dummy player. In Age I & II, this moves pretty quickly, but during Age III a player must make possibly 2 pretty tough decisions while the other player only has to make one. So we found that this creates much more downtime than a normal game with 3+. Not surprisingly the dummy player ended with much fewer points than either of us.
Bottom line is that 7 Wonders is a terrific game that falls somewhere between filler and light/medium. I can see us playing it as the warm-up game every game night for a long time and not getting tired of it.
If you’re interested in picking up a 7 Wonders, our friends at FunAgain.com have plenty in stock. So go grab yourself a copy!
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