Plenty of games have players building the most productive, mightiest empires -- but few do it with such deceptively simple rules mechanics and advanced planning as 7 Wonders.  This card game from Asmodee Games has players working against each other (while often helping each other) to pursue several paths to victory.
7 Wonders takes place over three ages.  In each age, each player has seven cards.  During each turn a player can buy a card (some are free, some cost gold, and some cost resources), sell a card for three gold, or build their empire's wonders, from left to right.  Cards can provide victory points (which ultimately determine the victor), resources (to buy more cards), scientific discoveries (which give victory points at the game's end), military strength (which give points at the end of each age), gold, letting them buy a building in the next age for free, or other benefits.  Players can also buy resources from the players to their left or right for two gold each -- and the other players can' refuse to sell them.  Each player's first and third wonder give victory points, while the middle wonder gives them a unique benefit, from building once per turn for free, to military strength, to even more victory points.

After each turn, players pass their remaining cards to the next player; clockwise during the first and third age, counter-clockwise during the second age.  When players have two cards left, they choose one to use and discard the final one.   And at the end of the third age, the victory points are totaled up and whoever has the highest score wins!
7 Wonders does numerous things very well.  First, the game is easy to learn (with only three options each turn) and very fast (average games are 30-40 minutes).  Second, there are several paths to victory: Players can focus solely on points, or scientific discoveries, or military strength, or getting enough resources that they don't have to buy from other players.  Third, passing cards around the table means players have to adjust their strategy on the fly: They can't focus on using several cards from their hand, since other players could wind up using the other card themselves.  In fact, a large part of the game's strategy is keeping adjacent players from getting the cards they need, while still getting the cards you need.  And fourth, the unique ability from everyone's second wonder adds to the game's diversity, as each player has their own unique edge they can pursue or ignore.  Finally, the third age has several special buildings that give points based on types of cards players have -- but these special buildings are picked at random, so you can't plan based on getting on, as it may not come into play (or another player could keep you from getting it).

I really enjoy playing 7 Wonders: It's easy to learn, teach, and play.  It keeps everyone involved.  There's no one path to victory.  The artwork on the cards is beautiful.  And you can play several times in a fairly short time.

Overall grade: A
Reviewed by James Lynch

1 comment:

smg58 said...

I like 7 Wonders as well. It's a good combination of brainy and short.