Sunday, July 27, 2014

Miscellany: 7 Wonders review

"7 Wonders" is a card-drafting board game for 2-7 players designed by Antoine Bauza. In the game, each player controls a city from the Ancient World, including its corresponding Wonder (the Colossus of Rhodes, the Mausoleum at Halicarnassus, etc.). Starting with a hand of seven cards, each player selects a card to play based on the resources currently available to the city, and then passes the remaining cards to the next player. Players can use cards to build up their city's raw materials and commerce, strengthen their science or military, or, of course, to construct their Wonder. All of the cards and Wonder boards are beautifully illustrated by Miguel Coimbra.

"7 Wonders" is a lot of fun, and it has some interesting characteristics that distinguish it from other city-building/economic development games. It's pretty easy to learn, since there are a limited number of things you can do on a turn (play a card, discard a card for gold, or use the card to build a Wonder). It plays extremely fast because players take their turns simultaneously (around 45 minutes per game, regardless of how many are playing). Finally, "7 Wonders" allows multiple paths to victory, whether it's gathering a strong army, building your Wonder, or simply constructing enough victory-point buildings in your city to outpace everyone.

The major downside of the game is that it, at times, feels like multiplayer solitaire. To be sure, you can affect your opponents by depriving them of cards they need to pursue their strategy, and you can force your neighbors to either take defeat or play military cards by buffing up your own army. However, as in most Eurogames, you can't directly attack another player, and the game often boils down to optimization of scarce resources. If you can live with this limitation, I think you'll like "7 Wonders" very much.


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