7 Wonders Board Game Review.
We have played about 4 games of this now, it’s age rating of 13+ is about correct for the basic gameplay but the actual scoring of the game is tricky to get your head around as it determines your strategy for the whole game. That being said we discovered that with the Leaders expansion you get a much more strategic game as the leaders drastically change how you plan your strategy. Without the expansion the Wonder boards did this a bit, but you could ignore the boards completely and still win, with the expansion if you ignored what you picked you could potentially shoot yourself in the foot.
The presentation of the card faces and the boards is all very well done with very beautiful and detailed art on the wonders (one of our players got annoyed trying to wipe “dirt” of their board which was actually birds in the picture). The rules are well written and don’t leave room for interpretation (which is a very good thing) and include a quick reference version, this makes it much easier to start off with until you get the hang of what the symbols mean.
I’ll start off by saying the learning curve for this will vary from person to person, those familiar with the drafting mechanics of the game will pick it up easily as will those who can match symbolic patterns together with their conceptual counterparts (for those of us who can do both you’ll be forming strategies by game 2!). Even for those game-players who struggle with this you should be able to get the hang of the game in a couple of games, just keep the quick rules handy. As I mentioned before the game uses a drafting mechanic, for those who don’t know what this is everyone is dealt out a set number of cards and then play commences by playing a card and then passing the remaining cards to the person next to you. The game has carefully balanced this at the different number of players by removing and adding specific cards to the deck to even the number of points available. Personally I like the drafting mechanic as it forces you to pick the card to play strategically dependant on what your neighbours are doing and what you need, also this eliminates the ‘perfect starting hand’ as all this means in 7 Wonders is that you get the first pick and then the rest of the cards will go through everyone else.
The actual game is split into 3 “Ages” denoting a single round where you “draft” through a 7 card hand, each card has a cost (could be 0, resources, or a building in a previous age) what it produces (the aforementioned resources, trading values, victory points or a few others) and what it could build in the next age. Cards with buildings as a requirement have the option of paying its resource cost or not if the previous building is built. The requirements are fulfilled by either paying to use your neighbours resources or those you have already built previously. I’ll stop there before I make it sound too complicated and you don’t try it!! At the bottom there is an example of some of the age 3 cards, as I mentioned before. Red is used for fighting points, yellow is commercial buildings, blue are victory points and green is science, the only ones not pictured here are the resources which are brown and only appear in ages 1 and 2 (you can see their icons in the top left requirements).
Lastly I will talk about the Leaders expansion, only to be tackled after at least one play of the standard game. The leaders expansion adds leaders, obviously, a new set of cards that you draft before the first age and then play at the start of each age, they give a range of bonus that will affect how you play the game – if you enjoy the base game I would highly recommend it as it allows for more focussed strategies that the original doesn’t necessarily encourage, like winning through money.