on August 27, 2011
Confession of a board game addict: I can't put 7 Wonders down.
The time estimate of 30 minutes for this game is fairly accurate for a 3 player game, I can easily imagine a 7 player game stretching out to 45 minutes. Either way, that makes it a much easier choice than most of its peers, which average 2 hours and beyond. 7 Wonders has an excellent depth of strategy that should satisfy all ages, yet it can be played (once familiar with the rules) at a fairly brisk pace, which creates a good mix of fast paced excitement and deep thought.
With that, let's get into the Pros and Cons:
Time Requirement - As above, probably the aspect that contributes the most to this game's widespread appeal.
Depth - Striking the right balance between military, commerce, science, cultural and resource development is extremely complex - and the "right" balance changes constantly as you react to your opponents' plans.
Materials - I think the comments about the durability of the cards are overstated. I don't believe they are any more or less durable than a standard deck of playing cards. The wonder boards are very sturdy, and the built in card storage decks are a nice touch as well. Also appreciate the thick stack of scoring pads included.
Innovation - the free building rule adds an interesting twist to the strategy that rewards players for focusing on a particular type of development (military, commerce, science, cultural) - an option that adds a certain "race to the finish" aspect and prevents the balanced approach from being the only successful one.
THE RULE BOOK - is very poorly written, as attested to by the ample amount of "oops, we have been playing it wrong" threads that a quick Google search of reveals. Some will no doubt appreciate the very succint rule book, and handy reference sheets - but the fact remains that it is very easy to miss key rules of the game because they are hidden in a footnote on an illustration, or not included in the main rules at all, but only on the card description sheet. I had to re-read the rule book (and additional sheets) multiple times before I (think) corrected all the errors we were making. I for one would have appreciated a longer, but more thorough rule book that explains the rules in detail, though I'm sure this was done intentionally as there is a significant market share that finds larger rule books daunting.
Add-ons - the Leaders expansion (a separate product) doesn't really add much to the game other than unnecessary complexity in my opinion. On the other hand, the game didn't need an expansion to begin with.
Pick 7 Wonders up without reservation - it's a blast. Add on Leaders if you feel like it, but it's hardly necessary to enjoy the game.
on December 16, 2010
Excellent game, brilliant art, poor components.
The game's core mechanic is similar to deck drafting from collectible card games, where you get a hand of cards, pick one, and then pass your cards to your neighbor. The difference is in 7 Wonders you play the card you choose immediately. This is great because it means the play speed is brisk and the game can play seven people about as fast as it can play three, a trait rarely found in board games.
The game features a tremendous amount of variety because, along with the cards being shuffled and different each game, you can play one of 14 different wonders (7 wonders plus an alternate version of each on the back) that can seriously adjust your strategy and how you try to win the game.
A feeling that comes from the game is the sense of progress and power as you build the city and your wonder using the cards that you choose. Each of the cards represents a building that your constructing in your city. Some demonstrate scientific achievement, military might, or economic opportunity. One cool ability is that some buildings allow you to build other buildings for free, making you feel smart that you built the first building.
This is a great game you'll play a lot, and the cards, while beautiful, are thin and easily damaged. It's wise to get some sleeves to protect them if you don't want it to wear out.
on July 5, 2011
Positives: Great Strategy, very few luck factors, plays for both large parties and down to 2. AND RUN TIME IS only 30 MINUTES!
For hard core game players, a 2 hour game is doable. But for the average sit down and enjoy a semi-competitive game, a 2 hour game is a killer. It's rare that you will find a quality strategic game with multiple winning variants that you can finish in under an hour, much less 30 minutes. It's almost too quick. Almost. I would certainly buy an expansion pack if they had one... in fact that is probably the only downside to the game right now... I want some more of IT!
Cons: No expansion pack is available for round 4. ...Just in case we have some board gaming friends that want a little more of a beating. =)
I would rate this in my top 10 list of games for sure. And for games under an hour, this one takes 1st place.
But don't mind me, I am just a pest control guy.
on January 2, 2012
7 Wonders is a game of trying to maximize synergistic effects without knowing for sure what opportunities you'll have up front. You need to strike a balance between securing resources to build more valuable structures later vs. putting more directly useful structures into play sooner. It has a variety of methods to score victory points that you'll have to mix to some extent in order to win. Some examples:
- The straightforward "government" path, where you simply build structures that are worth a fixed point value
- The "military" path, where you try to outrace your immediate neighbors in arms investment (by as slim a margin as possible to avoid waste)
- The "science" path, which, fittingly, involves some light math based on how many of each of three types of learning facilities you build
- The "builder" path, where you gain VPs from constructing your wonder (different wonders grant different VPs and other benefits)
- The "miser" path, where you earn VPs for accumulated coin
- ...and various other cards that give you victory points based on your (or your neighbors') other cards in play.
As you can see, there is a lot of potential variety in strategies, and it's difficult to impossible to win by simply "maxing out" a single category and punting on the rest. It's also risky to go in with a rigid set strategy, since the "drafting" mechanic (each player plays a card, then passes their hand along) introduces some uncertainty about what building opportunities you'll have. For instance, you can't necessarily count on being able to one-up your neighbors in military construction on the last turn of a round ("age"), because you may not be passed any military cards. You may not be able to go heavy on science because your neighbor is doing the same thing and vacuuming up most of those structures before they get to you.
The cards include some intimidating iconography at first, but it doesn't take very long to pick up the mechanics of the game. It moves quickly, since every player takes their turn simultaneously, though it relies somewhat on the honor system to make sure everyone has the appropriate resources and pays the appropriate amounts to build their structures-- nobody is going to spend the time to audit their neighbors.
There are two primary drawbacks I've seen in the few games I've been able to play so far:
1. The game takes up a lot of space per player. While many cards can largely overlap, you'll likely have separate piles for resources, government cards, science cards (possibly a pile for each of three types), guilds, and more, depending on your organizational inclinations. You'll also have a "wonder" board that takes up a fair amount of space. The cards themselves are quite large, much bigger than standard playing cards. Plan on a big table if you're going to have a lot of players-- we felt cramped with six players on a roughly 4'x6' table, and I had to deal each round onto the game box in my lap, since there wasn't any table space to toss the cards.
2. You have to extract cards from the decks before each game (or session). First, you need to remove all the cards for group sizes larger than the one you're playing with, since each of the three decks needs to have 7x[# players] cards in it. The cards are labeled with the minimum group size on it, so our group of six had to go through the decks and remove all the "7+" cards. You also need to find all the purple "Guild" cards from the Age III deck and select a certain number of them for use in each game, and the selection should be randomized every game. This is admittedly a minor inconvenience, though an annoyance nonetheless.
These issues aside, this game was a hit with our gaming group. Everyone liked it to one degree or another, and several openly considered buying their own copy. Once everyone has picked up the rules (and everyone was quite comfortable after one game), it moves quickly, and rarely does the outcome of a game appear to be a foregone conclusion.
on June 23, 2015
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
on May 12, 2013
A worthy addition to our "Settlers of Catan" gaming group. Shorter games with more reliance on strategy and less dependence on change.
However, and it's a big however; We miss the opportunity to socialize and get an overall, unfolding view of the game as it progresses, as is possible in "Settlers". It's a heads-down, make-your-decision, pass-them-on and don't-distract-me,-I'm-plotting game that lacks the social pleasures of the more leisurely pace of "Settlers of Catan".
on July 30, 2013
We're a game playing family. With 84 board/card games and counting, I feel like something of an expert on board games. This was an exceptionally good game. Unlike some strategy games, there doesn't seem to be any one strategy that's going to always work. You have to be flexible, depending upon which wonder you end up with, the cards you get, and the strategies your opponents are using. You have to pay particular attention to the strategies of your nearest neighbors on either side because many actions and many cards play off of them. No cards or actions play directly off of an opponent who is not your neighbor. That, too, is a nice feature. It's not that you shouldn't watch what the people across the table are doing, but it's more important to know what the guys to the right and left are doing. Especially when you're dealing with higher numbers of players, that makes it easier to keep up with. That's a big part of why it works as well for 7 players as it does for 3. That, and the fact that game play is simultaneous -- no turn taking! So there's very little down time and the games moves quickly.
The only reason I didn't give this game 5 stars is that the game comes with rules for a 2-player variation that I do not believe is very good. I was hoping that this would be a game I could play with my husband after our (young) kids went to bed, but after trying several times we both agreed on two things:
1) There are much better 2-player games.
2) This game is much better with 3-7 players.
For those reasons, we will only pull it out when we have friends over. But it really, really is a top-notch game for the right number of players. I mostly wrote this review to caution people who are considering buying it more for it's two-player extendability than anything else.
on November 6, 2012
I was immediately hooked onto this game after playing it. It's a great family game and it's nearly perfect in every way.
1) A game is ~30 mins to play. This is perfect to keep kids engaged and you don't need to carve out a chunk of time to play.
2) It makes you play (not give up) until the end because the scoring takes place at the end of the game. You never really know if you're in 1st place or not.
3) It's a strategy game but the same strategy does not always win you the game; you have to adjust due to the randomness of players and cards.
4) Very good quality cards and boards (though I bought plastic sleeves to protect the cards).
5) Game dynamics changes based on number of players. New strategies needed!
My family really enjoy this game. I highly recommend this to everyone!
on February 16, 2014
The instructions are difficult to follow.
It's much easier to play when you play with a couple of people who have played before. Once you play a round, it's very easy to understand, but for someone who has never played before, the concepts are difficult to grasp from just the instructions.
Once you get familiar with the gameplay, this game is an ABSOLUTE BLAST!
on December 15, 2014
I bought this game to play with my 8-year-old as we have started discovering Eurogames. Upon opening the box, I thought this may be too complex for him as there are a lot of components and the instructions are somewhat long. However, after watching a few YouTube videos (notably by WatchItPlayed for a methodical step-by-step gameplay example and rahdo, for the two player variant) I was able to piece everything together and lead my son through a few games. Our first few games were in the two hour range, but we can now complete a game in less than an hour. The gameplay really isn't all that complicated, it's really a matter of learning what all the cards are and getting a feel for the end of game scoring so you can develop a workable strategy.
The standard gameplay is for three or more players, but I've only played it as a two player game. So is it fun with just two? Without a doubt, I can say yes. Since each player gets a chance to play as the free city (dummy third player) it adds a layer of strategy since it can be used to both help you, but also to hurt your opponent. Also, while there is a little bit of a luck element involved since the cards are dealt at the beginning of each age, those cards are continually passed back and forth so everyone pretty much gets an equal opportunity to utilize them, so really the player controls the outcome of the game, which is the way it should be.
The components are quality, especially the cards and wonder boards. The coins and military tokens could have been a little better (plastic chips instead of cardboard), but get the job done. The instructions include a quick gameplay section, apart from the main manual, which comes in handy as a quick reference for scoring or as a reminder regarding what a card does.
If, like I was, you are wondering if this game is playable for your child in the 8-10-year-old age, before purchasing it, I'd say it depends. If your child has only played games like Sorry or Uno, then no, this will almost certainly be too much all at once. You'd be better off starting off with a lighter game such as Rise of Augustus. However, if your child has some solid experience in strategy games, then 7 Wonders should be playable with a little patience. It took my 8-year-old about two games to completely grasp what was happening since there is quite a lot going on. The first few games were long and he made a number of mistakes (as did I), but he got it and now our games move along much faster and are a lot of fun. He has been able to adapt his strategy to the cards available and yes, he has beaten me fair and square a few times.
So in summary this game can seem a little overwhelming right out of the box, but with a little perseverance to work through those first few games, it is a blast that plays relatively quickly and doesn't get bogged down. As soon as we finish a game, we immediately want to play again.