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 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 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 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 August 26, 2014
My wife loves this game. Perhaps because she won every time she played until just recently. And who beat her? Me! I’ll give you her tips when I tell you what to do since I employed them to secure victory, and she tried something different. Let that be a lesson to you: never branch out. Never try anything new, or you will suffer.
This is a “drafting” game. I hesitate to tell you this since you might take your reading business elsewhere, but I only call it a drafting game because I’ve heard other’s call it that and they sounded real authoritative, so I believed them, and as I explain you’ll say, of course it’s a drafting game- you dolt. Anyway, this game gets me groaning at my own choices early in the game and I keep groaning throughout the game. But don’t get me wrong, I love playing the game and am thrilled when someone accepts my invite to play.
You get 7 small double-sided gorgeously illustrated boards that you use to track completion of your wonder. There are three decks of similarly illustrated cards (one for each age.) You’ve got to fish out the cards that aren’t needed for the number of players fewer than sever that are playing. At the beginning of each age you deal out all the cards. Each person selects a card from their hand to play then passes their hand to their neighbor. You keep selecting (I mean, drafting) one from a new hand each round until there are only two left in the hand and the last one get discarded. Do this twice again and the game is over.
There’s three things you can do with the drafted card:
Keep the card for yourself- if you can pay the cost- some are free- you play the card in front of you- these usually help you score points one way or another.
Discard it for money- an especially good idea if you are poor and it’s costing you and the card you discard is one your neighbor would like
Build a stage of your wonder- that small board in front of you has spaces for cards to slide under them that represent a stage of your wonder you’ve completed. The cost you have to pay is on the board (ignore the cost on the card- try to use one your neighbor would like.)
Speaking of neighbors, it matters who you are next to. If you don’t have a resource needed to pay the cost of a card? If you have some money, you can buy from your neighbor- and buying their doesn’t keep them from using it themselves- they want you to use there because they get your money. But you can only buy from your immediate neighbors (player on either side of you.)
Also, some of the cards give you military presence. I use that word because you never march troops anywhere, but you get points at the end of each age if your military is more intimidating than your neighbors. So the war-monger across the table that doesn’t matter so long as you have buffer states between you. While this strategy wasn’t sound for France in World War II, it is in this game… I think that’s because the maker is French.
I hate to tell you what to do but…
My wife pointed out to- and I always listen when she points things out- that resources are available in the first two ages- these are what you use to pay the cost of cards or phases of your wonder (Incidentally, I’ve never seen my wife develop any stage of her wonder.) You will kick yourself if you don’t have resources to buy things late in the second and throughout third age.
The Third age could profitably be focused on getting cards that get you the most points. It’s something you can do in your head. “Hrmmm… this one is worth 6 to me and that one is worth 9.” My downfall is I think , “Yeah but, even though this one is only worth one, if I got another it would be worth 7!” Think Kyle, two cards to get 7 points, one card to get 6, maybe that second card will also get you 6. “ Oh… yeah, good call.”
Personally, I don’t get pulled into the theme of cracking the whips that would be required to erect my wonder, despite the eye-candy artwork. I don’t even get pulled into the idea that I’m making a barracks or a laboratory, all I’m concerned about is the count of symbols at the top of the card. I’m very concerned about the symbols.
This game the score isn’t tracked through the game, though you could get a good idea about someone’s score by looking over their board long enough- and be annoying to the rest of the players because it takes some doing. All that to say that you don’t have an exact idea of who is winning throughout the game. You know your neighbor is a war-monger, but you know your scientific cards can answer the points they are racking up if only you could get one more tablet! All that to say, My wife, who nearly always wins, never felt like she was going to until everything was counted up.
Also curious about the game is resource management as it relates to balance. While it would sure be nice to have enough resources to build some of the buildings in the last age, most are tremendously costly and you can make up for your national economies grand deficiencies not only by buying from your neighbor, but there are free upgrade paths as well. Say you get a altar in the first age, you can get the temple in the second age for free! Each card tells you what cards shortcut the cost of it, and what costs it will shortcut for you in the future.
Interaction is medium. I say that because I don’t think the “Everyone chosen a card?” counts, but maybe I need to think of introverts taking baby steps. Towards the end of each age- leading up to the military comparison- accusations of war mongering escalate. But I do more talking to myself and occasional barb to the person next to me taking the cards I wanted. Sometimes I tell someone to use a science card my wife wants before they pass her the hand, but I face swift retribution.
Medium. I say that because of the multiple ways of scoring points. Until you finish and score a game it could be difficult to conceptualize how your choices will affect the score at the end. These leads to me lamenting, “Ooooh, I see that I could have won the game. How could I have been so careless?” To which my wife compassionately responds, “Hindsight is always twenty/twenty.”
Downtime is nominal because everyone takes turns at the same time. The downtime happens when the person you’d never take to Baskin Robins can’t choose between the 8 to 2 cards in his/her hand. I guess you deserve a little down time if you invite them to play this game with you. Speaking of baby steps, the indecisive will never get better if they don’t practice, so if you invite them, my hats off to you, but in the long run, the clerk as Baskin Robbins may thank you. Otherwise, it’s a very fast moving game. I have watched it be very difficult for someone with a 6 year old try to “help” them play. That was brutal. And don’t be passing a partial hand even though you know you don’t want to choose those cards. Talk about a mess to try to straighten out.
What’s not to Like?
I’m a prude. I confess. And I took a permanent marker to a couple of the cards. There was some of that going on in the Expansion too. But otherwise, I really like this game.
I have not tried to break this out for my kids. I want to keep the cards nice. I have been training them with other card games though. My little two year old now waits for the dealer to be done before she picks up her hand, but I digress. I did take this on vacation with me and was playing in the hotel lobby and a complete stranger asked if they could play. Something about the game caught their eye, and who can blame them?
One other thought
It’s taken me some time to decide why I’m so bad at this game. No, it can’t be because so many of my opponents are superior to me, it just can’t! I think it has to do with not being able to see the whole picture. That is to say, I do very well playing Puerto Rico because I can see all the available options for each player and can guess what I would do if I were in their shoes and can make plans accordingly. In this game, I see only one hand at a time. I can’t see one of my neighbor’s hand and know, oh, they are going to get that military card. Or, maybe this game I’ll let the science cards go since so many are going to ge gobbled up before I ever see them. This is not a complaint, just an observation of how the mechanics work.
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 25, 2012
i thought the game was ok. they advertised that at the end, you would feel like you had built a civilization to call your own, but at the end of every game i still feel pretty detached from what i built. the game is supposed to be short, which is cool, but makes me feel like none of my plans are able to pan out.
the aspect of the game that drew me towards it was the card drafting in the style of magic the gathering booster drafts, and that part is fun, but the cards don't really do anything exciting, and there aren't any real imaginative combos or anything of the sort.
and sometimes, i don't see the point in building your wonder bc their special abilities aren't usually that impressive.
overall, my group prefers dominion and settlers of catan much much more than 7 wonders. i think i might resell as a like new copy.