Wow, I’m almost too excited to write about this one, as it’s one of my absolute favourite games of all time ever, seriously, I’d never turn down a chance to play 7 Wonders.
The father to newer drafting style games such as Sushi Go, It’s a Wonderful World and Hadara, 7 Wonders has become quite the genre defining game. Playing with 3-7 players (2 players can enjoy the equally excellent 7 Wonders Duel), 7 Wonders is a game of card drafting in order to build up a civilisation. Take resource cards early, and use those to construct your personal wonder, or put them towards amazing cultural projects like a palace, or focus on scientific advancement and win the game if no-one notices what you’ve been doing.
Strategic and fast-playing, simultaneously play makes for little downtime, meaning a full game of building up an entire civilisation from the ground up only takes about 45 minutes. They say the perfect game doesn’t exist, I don’t know if I believe that’s true, but what I do know is that 7 Wonders comes as close to perfection as any game I’ve ever played.
Why we love it
7 Wonders, for me, hits the best balance between ‘easy to learn’ and ‘has deep strategy.’ Every decision you make in this game matters, either because you’re taking cards which will go on to benefit you in massive ways, or because you’re preventing the player sitting next to you from getting them.
The game is played across three ages, in which players take a hand of seven cards, choose one to keep and pass the rest on. They then take their new hand of cards, choose another to keep and pass the rest on, and repeat this until just one card is left, which is discarded. Whenever you take a card, you have three choices of what to do with it: the simplest choice is to discard it for money, which immediately gets you three coins from the bank, you’ll need those later. Most cards you take, however, you’ll want to play to your civilisation. To do this you just place the card in front of you, but you have to have access to the resources pictured on the top left of the card. If you don’t already have those resources in your kingdom, you can buy them from the players adjacent to you (this is why those coins were important) so long as they have access to them. The cards themselves come in a few different types, we got cards giving you more access to resources, cultural cards which score points, science cards which score points according to the symbols on them, and military cards, because you can’t always be friends. Between each age a battle occurs between each player and the player sitting next to them, in these battles, each player compares the strength of their military and the person with more wins points (there are a lot of points in this game) but the person who loses gets negative points. But what makes this even better is that with each age, getting a military victory is worth an increasing amount of points!
That’s my quick speedy intro to how to play the game, there’s a little more to it than that, for instance that elusive third choice that I just don’t have the space to explain in this summary. If you’re thinking this one sounds a little bit complex, I’m not going to say it’s the easiest game in the whole world, but it does make a lot of sense once you get into the rhythm of playing it.
What you may have realised from that summary, was that there’s a lot of interaction with the players either side of you, you’ll be looking at what resources they’re collecting so you can use them, what their military power is, and which cards will score loads of points for them so you can swipe them up first. Yet, 7 Wonders manages to be a heavily interactive game whilst never seeming mean, because of how the points work, if one player is going to go all out on the military just to annoy their younger sibling, they’ll probably lose (and that’s spoken from experience - I’ll never forget beating my big brother at this one!)
Who’s it best for
3-7 players is an unusual range for a board game, I can say that I personally enjoy it with 3 players, but think it’s best with 4 or 5. I also enjoyed playing it with 6, but sadly have yet to manage a 7 player game. Whilst not overly complex, 7 Wonders might be too much for some beginners, but a great one to pick up if you’re looking to explore some more medium weight strategy games.
Loved it? Now try…
Sushi Go, basically 7 Wonders light
It’s a Wonderful World, drafting game, similar to 7 Wonders, but resources in the form of cubes are produced each round and can then be spent to play cards from a queue
Paper Tales, drafting game where the spatial placement of cards is super important and cards age and get discarded between rounds.