Welcome to The Game Shelf!

After getting into the board game hobby at the end of 2014, we've decided to share our thoughts on the games we're collecting on our shelves. The collection has certainly expanded over 18 months and we've been making up for lost time!

Sometimes our opinions differ, so Amy will be posting reviews every other Tuesday and Fi will post on Thursdays. We hope you enjoy reading some of our opinions on board games - especially those for two players.

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Tuesday, 15 December 2015

It's a wonder-full life:- 7 Wonders

Game: 7 Wonders

Manufacturer: Repos Production

Designer: Antoine Bauza

Year: 2010
The Egyptians? Can’t trust them, they use slave labour, which is understandable, but they use it for personal gain, not the good of society. They work their slaves to death just to build bigger and bigger tombs, and they expect us to be impressed? A temple of death built by death, poetic, but not impressive. Still they do have some good quarries, so it doesn’t hurt to do the occasional trade with them. The Persians, however? Hah! Weak! We’ve invaded them twice in our long history and no-doubt we’ll do it again. They are building some kind of mausoleum for their king, using our architects no less. How fitting, we shall design it, they shall build it, and we shall fill it! When it is time for our soldiers to march the statue of Zeus will be standing tall, granting his blessings upon their conquering blades. 

7 Wonders is a 2-7 player drafting game in which you attempt to prove yourself to be the greatest civilisation in the ancient world, something that will probably (though not necessarily) involve building one of the 7 wonders. The game is split over three ages providing more powerful card in the later ages, it also has a good amount of interaction with your immediate neighbours around the table, with you being able to invade them or trade with them for resources.

7 Wonders works how you’d imagine a drafting game to work, every player has a hand of 7 cards, they pick one they want to build then pass the remaining 6 cards to the next player. You then have to build the card you chose by paying any monetary or resource costs listed on the card, if you don’t have enough resources you can always pay a bit of money to a neighbouring player to use one of theirs for that building. Resources aren’t limited, so if you have 1 stone then you can build as many buildings as you get that need 1 stone over the course of the game, you can even have a player buy your stone from you and use the stone personally to build something in the same turn, but as soon as you find a building that needs 2 stone then you’ll need to find another source.

The seven wonders themselves, each has 3 stages (bar the pyramids) and unique costs and bonuses for each stage when built. The wonder you get can massively change your game plan, or you can completely ignore it and just go for good cards.
If you don’t like the card you picked (perhaps you can’t afford it, or you just don’t want an enemy getting it) then you can discard it for 3 money, alternatively you can play it upside down under your wonder to begin building that, so long as you have the resources to do so. Each wonder has 3 stages (okay 1 has 4) and each stage can only be built in the same numbered age or later, so you could use 3 age 3 cards to entirely build your wonder, but given that age 1 cards tend to be far less powerful that usually wouldn’t be a great tactic. The bonuses that your wonder give vary from wonder to wonder, but all of them are double sided, so even if you get randomly given a wonder you don’t like you can always see of the B-side provides better rewards.

One of the more important aspects in the game are the technology trees, buildings built in the first age (an age is the hand of 7 cards that gets passed around until empty, actually the last card in an age is discarded, so you only get 6) often have a symbol on them, should you match them up with a symbol on a second age card then you can build that card without having to pay the resource costs! This can be very useful as some of the powerful second/third age cards can require very expensive resources, but if you have been going up their tech tree then you may have to pay nothing at all.

The decks for the 3 ages and the special purple cards, a number of these are selected depending on player count and shuffled into the third age.
Cards come in a few different colours: Brown cards give you basic resources, wood, stone, and bricks, while grey cards give you advanced resources, glass and paper. It is the resources on brown/grey cards (and the starting one for your race) that people can trade with you for. Yellow cards sometimes give resources which can’t be traded about, but they also allow you to trade with neighbours without paying the cost, or simply give you money and victory points. Blue cards tend to simply give victory points, though this shouldn’t be ignored as a tactic. Purple cards are the end game cards that appear in the third age, they tend to give lots of victory points based on neighbours/your buildings or other factors. Red cards give you military strength, which you score at the end of each age, you compare your military strength with your neighbours and get points if you had the larger army or lost points if you had a smaller army. Finally green cards give you sciences, sciences are scored in multiples based on how many of 1 science/how many of each science you have.

7 wonders is an easy game to learn which helps for a game with a potential 7 players, it also doesn’t take much extra time when you add a player which is a blessing. There is even a 2 player version which has you taking turns giving an imaginary 3rd player cards, the 3rd player has certain rules, like they must build free buildings from tech chains before anything else, honestly it works quite well, though perhaps not as well as 7 Wonders Duel. There are some strategies which work better than others, and you can feel a bit shafted when your neighbours focus on military meaning that you get negative points from them defeating you *and* they haven’t built many resources for you to trade, but overall the game is fun and pretty well balanced.


1 comment:

  1. Nice review! I think I like the game a bit more than you though I share your distaste for the 2 player variant.

    One correction though - you have to build the stages of your Wonder in order, but there are no restrictions on what Age you are in so you could build all 3 stages in Age III as you said but (if you could get the resources together) you could equally build all 3 in Age I.

    Also a question - do you like this as that game you play with 6 or 7 or do you prefer it with a smaller number?