For how much David and I love playing board games we really do not talk about them enough. We had played 7 Wonders once before at a friends house or watched it being played and last night we got to get together with a friend and really test out the game by playing a borrowed copy. Honestly this game is so much fun. It seems complicated, but it is reasonably easy to understand. Yet, it has a great element of strategy to it as well.
The basic idea of the game is that you are one of the cities building one of the 7 wonders of the world. You are trying to build up trade, infrastructure, science buildings, troops, and of course the Wonder of the World. You have three ages in which to build up your city as much as possible to try and get the most points. There are a couple of interesting elements to the game that make it function similarly to the idea of having neighboring cities and dealing with them. It is a game with a lot of strategy, but it is great because it is a limited time frame, so it has a nice balance to it.
There is more than one way to win 7 Wonders, which is part of what is great about it. Do you want to have military might, scientific advancement, further infrastructure, a lot of trade, or actually complete the wonder you are building. There are a lot of different ways you can go in this game and you cannot really pick a strategy before you start. The reason is that you do not know what cards you will have access to every turn because you pass the cards around. The decision is not just about what you can build, but what you might keep others from building. The big thing I think I found is that you need to try and focus your strategy for the most part because if you are too diversified you do not get enough points. The other piece is that during the third age there are no more resources that can be built so you need to be sure to have all needed resources before that time or that your neighbors have them available.
Quick Game Play
The other piece that I really liked is the quick game play. There are 6 rounds for each Age and only three ages to go through. Each age builds upon the next until the third and final age. The idea is that the hands get passed around and you pick one card to play, then set the hand next to the neighbor who gets it next. Then all the players play at once. This means that even if you are playing with 7 people you don’t have to wait for others to go. Part of the reason that this is important is because people are not allowed to play a card if they cannot afford the costs involved. This means that if someone has to pay a neighboring city for a resource then they need to have the money at the beginning of the play not money they might acquire that turn.
Interaction Between Cities
The part of the game that I find most interesting is the interaction with neighboring cities. Depending on where you are siting determines your city neighbors by who is sitting next to you. During the game you can only trade with a city that is your neighbor on either side. This also works when it comes to conflicts. As neighboring cities build up their armies this only affects the neighboring cities. I like the idea that what is happening is focused on yourself and the people on either side of you instead of having to pay attention to the whole table. We played a three player game, which worked out perfectly. With more people it would be nice because it limits the range of what you need to pay attention to.
Final, thought is this is a fun game, with an interesting premise and due to the element of randomness each play through will be a little bit different. We played three times in one evening and each time played just a little bit differently and created some interesting challenges and outcomes.