Game Review: 7 Wonders

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Imagine you’re the leader of the one the seven great cities in the Ancient World. It’s your job to gather resources, develop commercial routes, and develop military power in order to build your city and erect an architectural wonder sure to impress future generations.

Designer: Antoine Bauza
Artist: Miguel Coimbra
Publisher: Repos Production, Asmodee
Genre: Card Drafting
Players: 2-7
Play time: 30 minutes
Number of Logged Plays: 16

Buy 7 Wonders on Amazon
Buy 7 Wonders Cities on Amazon
Buy 7 Wonders: Leaders on Amazon
Buy 7 Wonders Babel on Amazon

Skip ahead to find out:
Game Overview
Game Play
What He Said
What She Said
Our Pros and Cons
The Verdict

Game Overview

The game 7 Wonders is a card drafting game that plays 2-7 players. A typical game takes about 30-60 minutes. Card drafting is a method of card distribution where each player is dealt a number of cards face down. Each player chooses one of the cards dealt to them, then passes the remaining cards to their neighbor, and then each player chooses a second card from those passed to them, passes the remaining cards, and so on. This helps randomize the card distribution and minimizes lucky draws.

In this game, you will receive a Wonder board representing one of the original Seven Wonders of the Ancient World (Great Pyramid of Giza, Hanging Gardens of Babylon, Temple of Artemis at Ephesus, Statue of Zeus at Olympia, Mausoleum of Halicarnassus, Colossus of Rhodes, and Lighthouse of Alexandria).

Game Play

7 Wonders lasts three ages. In each age, players receive seven cards, choose one of those cards, then pass the remainder to an adjacent player. Players reveal their chosen card simultaneously. Each player then chooses another card from the deck they were passed, and the process repeats until players have six cards in play from that age.

On a players turn they can do one of the following actions with the card: build a structure, turn the card in for three coins, or use the card to build a part of their Wonder.

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To build a structure, a player must first pay the construction cost located in the upper left hand corner of the card, in coins or fulfilling the resource requirements (with cards). A player lacking the resources available may pay his direct neighbors to use their resources, normally at two coins per resource, if available. Structures can also be built for free if the player has the corresponding card from the previous age.

To construct a portion of a Wonder, the player must have the required resources. The player will select a card like usual, but instead of playing the card faceup, the selected card will be played face down under that stage to indicate that the card was sacrificed to complete that portion of the Wonder. The Wonder boards have two to four stages, shown at the bottom of the board. Each completed stage has a bonus that the player gets upon completion (additional resources, money, victory points, etc).

Each card is played immediately after being drafted, so you’ll know which cards your neighbor is receiving and how his choices might affect what you’ve already built up. The direction the cards are passed alternates over the three ages, so you need to keep an eye on the neighbors in both directions.

Types of Structures:

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In essence, 7 Wonders is a city development game. There are seven types of cards, representing different types of structures, determined by the color on the background of the card:

– Red cards (military structures): Shield symbols are added together to give a player’s military strength, which is used in conflict resolution at the end of each age.
– Yellow cards (commercial structures): Can grant coins, resources, and/or victory points or decrease the cost of buying resources from neighbors.
– Green cards (scientific structures): Each card has one of three symbols. Combinations of the symbols are worth victory points.
– Blue cards (civic structures): Provide a fixed number of victory points.
– Brown cards (raw materials): Provide one or two of the four raw material resources (wood, ore, clay brick, and stone). These only appear in Age I and II decks.
– Grey cards (manufactured goods): Provide one of the three manufactured goods (glass, papyrus, and textiles). These only appear in Age I and II decks.
– Purple cards (guilds): Grant victory points based on the structures you and/or your neighbors have built. These only appear in Age III deck.

At the end of each age, military conflicts are resolved between neighbors. This is done by comparing the number of shield symbols on the players’ red cards, and awarding victory points accordingly. Once all three decks have been played, players tally their scores in all the different developed areas (civil, scientific, commercial, etc.) The player with the most victory points wins.

 He Said

7 Wonders was the game that really opened my eyes to how fun modern day board games are. There are great moments when you have to make some tough decisions about what card to choose based on which ones you think might make it back to you.  We’ve had a lot of fun game nights that included playing multiple games of 7 Wonders.

My City is the Only One that Matters…

1468549864769 (1)During the first couple of games of 7 Wonders it might seem like the only thing you need to worry about is your own city, but you’ll soon find out that if other players aren’t kept in check, they can get some really strong combos to score a lot of points. A good example of this is if a player is allowed to collect a lot of science cards. It only takes a game or two before you realize that you can shut down another player’s pure science strategy pretty easily if you’re paying attention.

By paying attention to your neighbors you can skip certain resource cards in favor of getting cards that give you points because you can just borrow resources that your neighbors have in their city.  This is one of the things I really like about the game because it keeps you invested in watching what other players are doing.

All the Players

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Another thing that I really enjoy about 7 Wonders is that it supports up to seven players without increasing the play time because everyone selects cards simultaneously. Increasing the number of players also alters the strategy of drafting cards as you might not see the same group of cards passed back to you. There aren’t very many games that can effectively play up to seven players, but 7 Wonders scales excellently with the maximum number of players.

The downside to playing with more players is that it is much harder to interfere with a player’s strategy who is on the opposite end of the table as you. But that isn’t really a major drawback since you can call out other players’ strategies in hopes of getting their neighbors to put a stop to it.

However, I’m not a huge fan of the two player variant of the game as it introduces a dummy player that is controlled by the players in an alternating order every time a card is drafted. Basically, when it’s a player’s turn to control the dummy player, they draw from the dummy player’s hand and select a card for their city and for the dummy player. It does create some different dynamics that some people might find enjoyable, but I’d rather play the game with 3+ players.

The Heart of the Cards

 

Like all card drafting games, you have no control over what cards other players will pick, which means you can’t commit 100% to a strategy because you may not get all the cards you need to execute it. You’ll need to go with the flow to optimize your points by selecting the best card that will help round out your city.

I’ve had many games where I went in with the strategy to mainly draft science cards, but that plan crashed and burned on me as players started taking more science cards. But I had fully committed to that strategy and it was too late for me to turn back on it. It’s a great feeling to say you scored 50 points from science, but when you score few points in other categories it makes it tough to win.

Focusing so much on one type of card opens you up to getting blocked very easily, especially if you didn’t develop a back up strategy. Of course, there will be some games when everything falls into place though and it really gives you a satisfying feeling when you look over your tableau and see your master plan executed.

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The Wonders that players can choose from also adds a lot of variety to your strategy. Each Wonder has two sides that will grant a player different bonuses for each completed stage. The A side of the board has some pretty basic rewards whereas the B side of the board gives some more unique rewards that can influence a players strategy much more.

Wonders help newer players formulate what kind of strategy they might want to go for since it’s pretty easy to come up with a strategy that will complement the bonuses your Wonder gives you. An example of this is a player with the Hanging Gardens of Babylon might invest more into science since the second stage of their wonder will give them a science symbol of their choice. The Wonders create a lot of interesting decisions since you have to decide if sacrificing a card to build a portion of your Wonder is worth it.

Final Thoughts

7 Wonders is a great game to play with friends and family and isn’t too difficult to teach. However, there are a ton of symbols that players need to get accustomed with, which may be a little challenging for some newer players. The artwork on the cards and Wonder boards are very colorful and nice to look at. Overall, I’d recommend this game to anyone because it’s an easy game to learn after a couple plays and is full of interesting decisions.

 She Said

As someone who has always been interested in ancient history, the game 7 Wonders manages to blend that interest with a great card drafting game.

Card Drafting Mechanism

7 Wonders takes card drafting to a whole new level by attaching a theme of building out a historical Wonder. In addition, 7 Wonders has a significant more amount of replayability than other card drafting games because of the Wonder boards. These help randomize the game and allow for a player to utilize the different abilities on their board to make the game a bit more interesting.

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Three’s a Crowd

However, if you’re playing with more than three players, you often don’t even notice (or care) what the other players who are not sitting beside you are doing. Meaning someone could be collecting a lot of points, but you don’t really notice because they aren’t sitting next to you.

The other danger of playing with more players is that you have to play based on the honor system, which makes it easier for someone to cheat if you have a cheater in your midst. This game also can be math intensive toward the end, so you have to rely on someone’s ability to do math, which can sometimes be questionable. I personally ask someone else to add things for me if I’m worried about not calculating correctly.

The Strategy is Light With This One

I wouldn’t say that this game is a very intensive strategy game. It’s a fairly light game, but there a few directions you can choose to go take the game. For example, you can try to collect sets of green science cards, but that’s often something other players notice pretty quickly and they may try to block you. You could also try to collect a nice mixture of all types of structures, but this is often more challenging as you never really get your footing to gain enough points to win the game.

But one great thing about this game is that if you collect certain cards, they offer you the ability to get a free card in the next Age whether you have the resources or not. This is also something others may notice and try to block though.

IMG_1123 (2)What Goes Around Comes Around

One tip I have for this game is to make sure you plan ahead. If you aren’t thinking about what types of cards you want to draft in future ages, you’re going to be at a disadvantage. It’s important that you gather enough resources in Age I and II. If you don’t, you’re basically screwed for Age III and can’t build anything. But this is sometimes easier said than done.

It can be hard to balance what you are collecting and, if someone ends up drafting all the good resource cards, you may just not have as many options and it makes it infinitely harder to draft any cards in Age III. The majority of your points happen in Age III, so it’s best to build up your base in the first two ages.

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All By Myself

One thing that bothers me about the game is that there isn’t much player interaction. Players lightly interact with one another through red military cards by comparing military strength and gaining points or losing points. But beyond that, the most interaction that happens is when you purposely draft or eliminate cards in order to prevent another player from gaining points. This strategy can easily thwart someone’s plans at winning, but it somehow doesn’t bring the game in a vicious/mean direction.

Final Thoughts

Overall, this is one of my favorite games in the category of card drafting because it does a good job of blending a theme of historical architectural wonders with the card drafting mechanism. I will say though that this game doesn’t really play well with only two players. It’s far more interesting with 3-4 players. Any more than that and it gets very long and hard to keep track of everyone.

Pros and Cons

Pros:
– Replayability
– Plays well with 3+ players
– Makes card drafting more interesting
– Wonder boards add a bit of variability
– Ancient history theme
– Easy to learn

Cons:
– Minimal player interaction
– Doesn’t play well with two players
– Hard to check that someone isn’t cheating/adding incorrectly
– Lots of symbols to learn
– Can be too abstract (building a city with cards is a hard concept to grasp)

The Verdict

His score is 9 Hanging Gardens of Babylon out of 10

Her score is 8.5 Pyramids of Giza out of 10. 

 

Stay tuned for our review of Blood Rage!

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