Published on November 8th, 2013 | by Nicole Jekich
Sculptures, Science and Wonders, OH MY!
Summary: 7 Wonders is a great casual game with a bit of a learning curve for first time players.
In 7 Wonders players are tasked with building and maintaining a city around one of the seven wonders of the ancient world. Face off against other players in this world-building, set-collection, competitive draft game! 7 Wonders is a very highly-rated game and it has won many board game awards including the prestigious Deutscher Spiele Preis in 2011.
7 Wonders brings all the fun, careful planning and strategy of booster drafting into a board game format for 2-7 players. Set in an vaguely defined ancient time, players are tasked with building up a civilization through military, infrastructure, science and the construction of their culture’s wonder. The wonders of the ancient in the world in the base set includes: The Pyramid of Giza, Hanging Gardens of Babylon, Temple of Artemis, Lighthouse at Alexandria, Colossus of Rhodes, Statue of Zeus at Olympia and the Mausoleum at Halicarnassus. Each wonder has its own set of starting advantages and rewards for completing its three stages as well as two different versions for varying degrees of complexity.
The game is divided into three ages: First, Second and Third Age. Every age will have a set of cards for players to pass around and draft from. Just as in a Magic the Gathering draft, a player takes their starting deck and removes one card for themselves before passing the deck. Everything is in the cards. The different kinds of cards work together in different ways, all of which help the player build towards a utopia. This set mechanic makes each type of card work better with a different strategy, which keeps replayability high. There is some “machine building” elements in the gameplay: you need to have enough resource cards to build structures that will give you points later on. But between the merchant system, the available resource cards and a nifty upgrade mechanic the difficulty level and learning curve of the game is still relatively low, especially compared to worker placement games.
7 Wonders spares no expense with its board game pieces. The box contains coins, military marks, cards and play boards for each wonder and all the pieces fit in the well-designed box. Although I do not recommend storing the game vertically or else all the pieces will fall out of their places. The pieces and cards are sturdy and do not bend easily. 7 Wonders also ranks as one of the most gorgeous games on the market and it is easy to see why. All the game’s art and assets are illustrated by Miguel Coimbra, a familiar name in the board gaming art scene. The box, cards and game pieces all feature Miguel’s handiwork. To view more board game work by him, check out Smallworld and Cargo Noir, which are also two games I enjoy playing.
I, personally, am always ready to play a game of 7 Wonders. It is relaxing with low amounts of time investment and minimal mental effort. It is perfect for gamers who love drafts and want to set collect their way to victory over other players without much confrontation. The only part of the game where I quickly lose interest is the scoring. Each game box comes with a neat little notepad for scoring but for those that don’t enjoy doing all the math by hand there are convenient apps for Android and iPhone devices.
For those that tire of the base game there are three additional 7 Wonders expansions which add more replayability and new challenges to the game. The first includes four additional wonders cards. The second expansion, Leaders adds a new card type “leaders” which help maintain and lead your city. Most notably they include both Julius Caesar and Cleopatra along with a new wonder and blank drafting cards. The third and most recent expansion, Cities, adds new guilds and wonders and a new card type which allows more interaction between players. Overall, 7 Wonders is a great casual game with a bit of a learning curve for first time players. Gameplay and rules are very simple but explaining how all the bits and pieces interact together to make you points can take its toll. My recommendation for new players is live by trial and error for the first couple games and always ask questions if a card does not make sense!