Editor’s Note: Rick is back, you guys. If you read any of his WWWs over the last few months, you’re aware that he’s a huge fan of board games. What follows is his first of hopefully many reviews. Cheers!
7 Wonders is a card drafting game that has enjoyed tremendous popularity since it’s release in 2010. It has won nearly every major gaming award possible, and for good reason.
Let’s take a look at the stats first.
Theme: Civilization building
Number of Players: 2-7 (Works well with all numbers)
Game Time: 30 minutes
Age Appropriateness: 10 and up
Game Type: Card drafting, set collection
In 7 Wonders each player is trying to build their own civilization and finish with the most points. Points are awarded for building buildings, advancing science and technology, having the best military, building a wonder and more. The game is played in three ages. The player with the most points at the end of those ages is the winner.
At the beginning of each age, a hand of seven cards are dealt to each player. Players simultaneously choose one card from their hand to play. The cards are revealed at the same time and players must pay the price necessary or gain the reward for the card they chose. If a player does not have all the resources needed to play a card they may purchase these resources from either of their neighbors. Everyone then passes the remaining hand to their neighbor and the process begins again.
After each player has selected and played six cards the seventh card from each hand is discarded and the age is over. There is a short round of scoring after each age for military size, and then the next age begins. After the third age is complete, the scoring phase is extensive totaling up all points for each player.
The cards and cardboard pieces in the game are well made and durable. The artwork is very good on everything. The cards are a slightly different size than your standard playing card deck.
I really like 7 Wonders. It takes the simple concept of card drafting and gives it a strong theme with many different paths to victory. Unlike some card drafting games, this one can be high in strategy as well. A player should never feel out of the game, as the points available in the third age are big. Several ‘guild’ cards make things very interesting in that age. Have a neighbor that has been building a military strategy? There is a card that can help give YOU points for that. Someone hoarding all the science cards? Find the card that pays you for their good work.
One knock of set collection games is that it can feel like you are playing simultaneous games of solitaire. That’s often a fair criticism, but not here. The ability to purchase resources from your neighbors, plus the military build-up and strategy to keep them from getting cards that they need make sure that you are keeping tabs on other players.
7 Wonders also scales well with all numbers. Cards are added and removed depending on the number of players. It is very well-balanced. The simultaneous selection keeps the game from getting too long when you have more players. To be honest, if everyone knows how to play the game it probably won’t take you a half hour even with five or six players. We have played several 3 player games in 15-20 minutes each.
I think it could be a good family game, but my daughter hasn’t gotten into this one. My wife likes it quite a bit, which means it will hit the table more at my house.
7 Wonders has a good shot to find itself in my top ten favorite games.
Affordability: The manufacturer’s retail price is $49.99. You should be able to find a new copy of this game in the $30-35 range on Amazon or a number of board game retailers online.
Expansions and Replay-ability: There are expansions for 7 Wonders. The first two expansions were 7 Wonders Leaders and 7 Wonders Cities. To be completely fair, I have not played any of the expansions. I will say that the cost of the first two expansions (in the $25-30 range) seemed a bit high for what you actually get. $30 can get you a completely different game after all.
The newest expansion is called 7 Wonders Tower of Babel and brings two new modules that really look like they change the dynamic enough to intrigue me. We will see.
After roughly a dozen plays of the base game, I’m still very interested to get this one to the table on game nights. I think the replay-ability is pretty high without the expansions.
Board Game News and Notes:
-The wildly popular internet show TableTop is back for it’s third season, this time fully funded by fans. You can find the initial episode on YouTube or the Geek and Sundry show website. New shows air on Thursdays. If you haven’t watched the show hosted by Wil Wheaton, I’d recommend it if you are a game lover.
-The Cleveland area Tabletop Board Game Cafe’s Kickstarter campaign is over, and it was fully funded. That’s good news for game fans, especially for those of us downtown or on the west side. Originally hoping for a November opening, it sounds like December is more likely to happen. The cafe will host a huge game library and offer your favorite beverages plus sandwiches and snacks. This will be a great place to try some of these games before you throw down your cash.
-You may (but probably won’t) remember my review of the game Love Letter. This is a great game that I said at the time could have really any theme you wanted put on it and still be a really good, quick game. I wasn’t the only one who thought so it seems. Several new themes have been put on the game, but the one I’m interested in comes out in early 2015- Batman. Yep. I’m in.
-For Settlers of Catan fans, there is a new Catan: Ancient Egypt edition.