7 Wonders: Review

7 Wonders Review

OVERVIEW

Our Rating:

As the ruler of one of seven ancient cities, you must build your empire in order to defeat your enemies and reign supreme! You must collect resources, build buildings, develop and army, erect your wonders in order to grow faster and stronger than everyone else in the land. You must manage your hand of cards through card drafting throughout three ages if you are to prove yourself!

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How To Play 7 Wonders - Simplified Version

RYAN'S REVIEW

My Rating:

Likes

  • Lots of routes to victory.
  • Don't know who won until the end.
  • Lots of strategy involved, including adapting on the fly.
  • Games can be fairly quick.
  • Fairly balanced game.

Dislikes

  • Not all tableaus are built the same for helpfulness.
  • Blocking others can cost you your whole game.
  • Only direct interaction is with people sitting next to you.

Intro/First Impressions

I was excited to write a review of 7 Wonders, since it was one of the first real strategically focused strategy board games I played (other ones I had played before were more Gateway Games).

I was equally as excited to try out the game when it was pulled out. The explanation time on this game took a little longer than some of the others we had played to this point. It seemed a little complicated, but not overly, and I had already started to form a strategy in my head (…this partially involved following whatever Wes was doing because he had played it a few times).

In my head is was a card game, but had a board/tableau that was individualized and was used to score points or help you along the way. Little did I know that this fell into the Card Drafting Board Game genre.

Thoughts

This game seemed a bit intimidating as a beginner board game player. If you haven’t played it before, you have to manage a hand of cards, which will be passed to your neighbor, all while you build and stack cards in front of you, ultimately trying to get as many Victory Points as possible.

Ok, so that wasn’t the best description, but you can get a better one in our How To Play 7 Wonders -Simplified Edition, coming soon.

The nice thing about this game is that things don’t move crazy fast at the start. You get a hand of cards and can ask questions like “Which are the best cards to take when starting a game?”. The answer being resource cards in most cases, especially because these are only available in the first 2 (of 3) rounds.

In fact, as I mentioned earlier, I was watching Wes’ strategy and applying it to the one I had done in my head. It was a great way to learn, and it’s not like someone in the group can get out to a huge lead easily the way you all reveal your cards at the same time.

This new dynamic of card drafting, was really interesting. You are faced making decisions about which is best for yourself at the time versus making sure the next person doesn’t get a huge advantage.

Blocking the person next to you from getting a helpful card is a bit polarizing. In one sense you get the satisfaction of slowing them down, however it can come at a significant price of really hampering your own progress. Though, as I played more games, you realized that it may happen from time to time and it’s best to have a contingency plan (eg. Using that card to get coins instead or help build out your Wonders)

If everyone is actively doing this then the game is balanced. If, however, people are all out sprinting to get points and not worrying about others, then one turn of ‘taking one for the team’ could cost you the whole game.

That being said, this blocking/hand management is one of the few pieces of interaction among players in the game (the others being armies and resource buying). That actually brings up one of the things I am not fond of in the game. You only really affect the person who is sitting next to you. In a way you affect everyone by choosing certain cards, but that’s only an after-effect.

You focus a lot of your energy on yourself, and in a 4 or more player game, you won’t even interact with some of the people, directly anyways. Personally I like the interaction, but I should state that this doesn’t detract from the awesomeness of this game.

While we are talking about interaction, might as well mention the army cards. Here is another element that I both love and hate! It is a great way to stack up some points, especially later in the game, but at the same time, if you focus on it, the person sitting next to you can easily wipe out all your hard work in a couple of turns. On that same note, if your neighbor plays one of these cards early expect yourself to be quoting Whitney… 

You’re playing a f@#$ing army already? I thought we were friends?!

Whitney

Strategy for Victory Points in 7 Wonders

I like that this game has a few routes for you to take to try to accumulate Victory Points. You can go after blue cards (direct VPs), Green Cards (stackable for VPs), Red Cards (Army – VPs compared to your opponents army), purple cards (guilds – VPs based on your/your opponents cards), etc. Having a bunch of options is nice because you never know what hand you are going to be dealt/passed, so you might have to adapt on the fly.

In reality you can’t plan too far in advance with this game. You are subject to the luck of the draw or cards handed to you by others. It is nice in one sense because your ability to win comes from early foundation, being able to adapt, and having back up plans. It is a different type of strategy you have to have.

I would imagine players who have played this game a ton would have a distinct advantage in knowing which cards are still available and being able to plan accordingly, but I haven’t faced that issue yet.

Balance of Game Play in 7 Wonders

For the most part I find this game pretty balanced. There have been very few games we have played when someone was the run-away winner of the game. In most games we play, you don’t know who is going to win until you add all the points at the end. Yes, you get a feeling for who is likely the winner, but you never really know. I enjoy games like this because you have to stay interested until the final play is done.

There are some tableaus or boards that don’t feel as fun to play, for me anyways. I find that they are of little help to me during the game, so I end up ignoring them. That being said, what I find useful and what others find useful can be two totally different things. Eg. I generally don’t spend effort/waste a card on something that might only get me a couple of Victory Points (though maybe I should?!).

Conclusion

After playing a couple games of 7 Wonders, it becomes pretty easy to play and games can move fairly quick. This game is almost simple enough to be a gateway board game, but I found that Sushi Go has a similar style with less complexity to it.

With all the routes to victory in this game and its set end time (after all cards are played in 3rd round), it makes a game that you can pick up and play again and again. We have played a full 4 player game in less than 25 minutes before.

It may seem intimidating to some, but once the concept of card drafting is understood, this one is easy. It will have you reaching for it on the shelf a lot as you will want to try out different strategies and master it.

I recommend this one for people who have played a couple of games before and want to try something new. It has been on the shelf for over 4 years and it still gets played all the time!

About the author

Ryan

I love playing board games with my family and friends when I am not busy playing sports or working away. Check out my full Bio on the About Us page!

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