Top positive review
94 people found this helpful
Widespread appeal and game board
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.