There are not many board games that can scale from 2 players to 7 players without lost in quality or a drastic increase in play time. 7 Wonders is one of those rare exceptions. It combines some unique game play mechanics with easy to learn rules and a quick play time. You can play a full game of 7 Wonders with 7 people in under 45 minutes, which can be a rarity in board gaming. The game’s easy to learn rules also make it accessible to gamers and non-gamers alike. So what is it about 7 Wonders that makes it worth your time at the gaming table? Read on to find out!
7 Wonders is a card game for 2-7 players that plays in about 45 minutes. 7 Wonders will play fantastically with any of the 3-7 players.
7 Wonders is a card game which you are tasked with building up your civilization through a series of 3 ages (rounds). You build your civilization by playing cards every round to your play area. The cards range from production buildings (allowing you to have the supplies to play later cards) to Victory Point buildings to special action buildings.
What makes 7 Wonders unique is how the hand management works. Each round, each player will play 1 card simultaneously and then pass the rest of their hand to the player on their right or left. That’s right, you have to pick one available card in your hand to use and then pass the rest along. So in a 7 player game, you may only ever get to choose 1 card from a particular hand. It’s a really neat mechanic that forces you to balance what card you want to play with what cards you don’t want to give your opponent access to.
As with most card games, there is not a lot to the components. The main thing in the 7 Wonders box is the piles of well illustrator cards. Each has a name, cost, picture and effect symbol. They are both functional and well designed.
Also included is a number of cardboard tokens to be used in the game as well as double sided player boards, each representing a different wonder. If you are a big fan of the game, I’d recommend getting card sleeves as they will begin to show some wear after repeated use.
How to Play:
Every player in 7 Wonders gets a different ancient civilization to play as. Each one is unique and you will be advised to tailor your play strategy to that specific civilization. Your play board will depict an ancient wonder from that Civilization and that’s also one of the things you’ll be building during the game. The wonder boards will all start with one resource the player has access to during the game. Most wonders also have 3 stages that need to be build, each of which will provide the player with an in game bonus once built.
Everyone will start with a hand of 7 cards. Everyone will select a card they want to play and then, simultaneously, reveals it and put it in their play area. Some cards have costs which are paid for by having access to the appropriate resources in your play area. You don’t actually have to spend the resource, just produce it. So if a card costs 1 ore, you just need access to a card that produces ore.
One of the areas where the interaction happens in the game is that you can buy resources from your neighbors (the players sitting directly adjacent to you on either side). Resources cost 2 coins per resource you want to buy and the player can’t decline the sale.
Once each player has played and paid for their chosen card, all hands are passed either clockwise or counterclockwise (depending on the age). You then pick up your new hand of cards and choose another to play. This repeats until each player has only 2 cards left int their hand. At this point each player choses one of the last 2 to play and the round is over.
In between rounds, players check for military score and hand out victory point chips appropriately. Then you deal out a new hand for the next age. After Age 3, the game is over and the final scores are tallied up.
Simple, yet incredibly fun.
The game play in 7 Wonders is delightfully simple, yet the variety of cards make the strategy level run deep. I love all the different cards that will come across your hand during the game. There are different types of resource production buildings, there are victory point buildings, cards that impact your neighbors, and the high scoring science buildings. With a limited amount of cards you can play during the game, 7 wonders demands that you have some kind of strategy.
And the key with that strategy is to be flexible. A quick way to ensure you lose is to copy what your neighbor is doing. Since cards are being passed around, you can bet your neighbors will try and deny you cards you need. That’s why a player has to be flexible. You may really want to go military, but if the player 2 spots down is going heavy military, you might never see a good card for it.
And the variety is what keeps me coming back for more. I have dubbed 7 Wonders my favorite game that I almost never win. I don’t know what it is about the game, but I’m constantly and also ran. I think that actually says a lot about the game. If you can get a player coming back to play more and more who never wins, you know you have a fun game on your hands.
It also helps that the game only takes about 45 minutes to play. Most of the time when we play, we will get in at least 2 games in a row. The setup is fairly quick and once all players have a feel for the rules, so do the turns.
If I had a complaint with 7 Wonders it would be its heavy reliance on symbols. Every card has a symbol on it and sometimes they are not the most intuitive. I think it adds a bit to the learning curve to decipher them all, especially if you don’t play constantly. We have even made a cheat sheet for our players to aid in this process. It’s not a hugh issue, but it will make first time players struggle a bit more.
But honestly, that’s my only real complaint about the game. 7 Wonders is a game I’m always willing to bring to the table. It runs deep on strategy without overly complex rules. One of my favorite parts of the game though is that it scales seamlessly from 2-7 players. While 2 is less then ideal (you need a dummy city), 3+ is the ideal range. Most games will add to the play time when you add in more players. Since all the turns happen simultaneously in 7 Wonders that’s not an issue. The game takes about 45 minutes whether you have 4 players or 7. The game stays balanced based on the number of players as well. There are not a lot of games that can boast that.
In case you can’t tell, I love 7 Wonders. It’s easily in my top 5 favorite games list. Its rare that I can find a game that will accommodate 7 players without it taking 4 hours to play. The unique game mechanics in 7 Wonders also consistently have me coming back for more as well. I love the concept of passing your hand after each play as it forces players to keep on their toes. Add that to the fact that the rules are easy to learn makes it an easy choice to get to the gaming table.
So far, there have also been 2 expansions for the game. The first was 7 Wonders: Leaders. This expansion added a leader card to each civilization. This probably isn’t my favorite expansion for the game as I doesn’t seem to flow with the game as well as it could have. Most of the time we usually play without it.
The second and recently released expansion is 7 Wonders: Cities. This expansion was a spot on hit in my book. It added a new group of cards that flows in seamlessly with the base game. They new cards only require minor explanation to understand and introduce a couple of new (yet easy to understand) game mechanics.
Although I’ve never tried it, 7 Wonders does scale all the way down to two players. The rules for this require a “dummy civilization” so I usually hunt for a different game to play if it’s only two of us.
If you are looking for a light euro game to try out, I’d highly recommend 7 Wonders. The strategy, play time, and unique mechanics make it a perfect fit for any game night. It is also non-gamer friendly so it makes a fantastic gateway game.
If you are interested in getting a copy for yourself, it’s about $30.
Final Score: 9/10 – A unique and fun game that is different every time you play. Highly recommended.
• Slight learning curve for new players due to the symbols
• Leaders expansion doesn’t flow with the game very well