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Subject: It's Wonderful rss

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John Bandettini
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In my reviews I concentrate on two aspects of the game. A look at what you actually get in the box. The components of the game, a look at both the quantity and quality.

Secondly, my experiences with the game including what I like about it and anything I don’t like about it.

This time I am looking at 7 Wonders the latest game designed by Antoine Bauza, whose previous games include Ghost Stories and Mystery Express.

This game has been creating a huge amount of buzz in the last few months. It’s still in fairly limited supply, but I have been lucky enough to get a copy. The game is mostly a card game, but there are a few other things in the box, so let’s see what you get.

The box itself is the same size as another card game you might have heard of, Dominion. I think it has quite an attractive cover. And if the title is not enough to tell you the theme of the game the box lid certainly will. It shows all of the 7 Wonders, though I am pretty sure they were not all in the same place.



Open the box up and you won’t find as many cards as Dominion. Though you will find a few other things.

You get a good comprehensive well illustrated rule book. The game is not that complex and I think the rule book is a very good one. You also get a single sheet with the Quick rules on one side and an explanation of all the symbols used on the cards on the back. The symbols side is identical to the back of the rule book. This is very useful as you will be looking up the symbols during the game. Don’t worry though it’s not Race for the Galaxy, there are just some cards (most noticeably guilds) that you will need to look up.

Although it’s not really a board game each player does get a small wonder board. There are surprise surprise, 7 wonder boards. Each board is two sided and has a nice illustration of the wonder it represents. During the game you can spend some of your cards building your wonder. Depending on the wonder you are playing, each wonder has between 2 and 4 stages that can be built (The majority have 3). Each stage you build gives you something. It may give you victory points, money, resources or give you a special action. Each wonder has an A and a B side. You are advised that the A sides are easier to play and it suggests using them the first few games.

Also on each board in the top left corner is that wonders default resource, which the player can use every turn. As with all the artwork in the game, the boards are very attractive.



(The wonders in this photo includ the Essen bonus wonder)

As it’s a card game you get lots of cards, 158 of them in all split into a number of types.

You get 7 wonder cards. You can use these if you want to assign the wonders randomly. Just shuffle and deal one each to the players. The wonder cards are split across the middle so you can also use them to decide if you play the A or B side of the wonder.



Although the game has been designed for 3 to 7 players. It includes 2 cards that are only used in the 2 player variant. The rules recommend that you only try this when you are very familiar with the game. As I have not tried the two player version I will not be commenting on it.

The bulk of the cards though are the age cards. The game is split into three eras, so you get three sets of age cards, 49 for era I and II, 50 for era III (Yes it makes sense, bear with me).

As well as being split into eras, there are 7 different card types. The basic rules of the games are very simple, the real key to the game is understanding the different card types and how to use them. The 7 card types are:

Brown (Raw Materials)
Grey (Manufactured goods)
Blue (Civilian structures)
Green (Scientific structures)
Yellow (Commercial structures)
Red (Military Structures)
Purple (Guilds)

The cards can contain a lot of information. The following will be found in varying combinations on all cards.

Top left hand corner will be the cost to build the card. It may be money, it may be one or more resources and it may be free. In the middle at the top of the cards it will tell you what benefit you gain from that card.

Brown and Grey cards give you a resource that you can use every turn. Some resource cards have two of the same resource on them in that case you can have two of that resource every turn. Some have two different resources with on them with a slash between them. This means you can use one or the other but not both. Resources do not accumulate, use ‘em or lose ‘em. Most of the resource cards are available in the first era. The cards with two resources of the same type are in the second era. There are no resource cards in the third era.




Blue cards give you victory points. Points values go up in the later eras and so do costs to buy.



Green cards give you scientific symbols (Collect sets for victory points, either similar or different. There are three different symbols). Green cards are only available in era II and III.



Yellow cards give you some kind of economic aid (A set number of coins when you build, the ability to buy resources you don’t have at a reduced price etc)

Red cards give you one or more military symbol (If you have more military symbols than the players sitting next to you at the end of an era, you gain victory points, if you have less you lose some.) You get one symbol on an era I cards, 2 on a II and 3 on an era III card.



Purple card give you victory points (and sometimes money) based on either your building or the buildings of the players sitting next to you. You only get guilds in era III. There are 10 guilds cards, you select a number equal to the number of players plus two and shuffle them into the era III cards. So even with 7 players there will be one card unused. (I said I would explain why there was 1 extra card in the era III deck.)

The main part of the card will show an illustration of the card. To the bottom of the left on the card will be the card name. In the middle at the bottom there may be a number, 3+, 4+ etc. This shows you which cards to include in the game based on the number of players. Some cards will also have one or more card names in the bottom right on the card. These are cards that you can build for free in the next era if you build this card.

As well as the cards you get some wooden disks that are used as money. The small grey ones represent one coin, the larger gold ones are three coins.

Coins can be used to buy some cards or you can use them to buy resources you don’t have from either of your neighbours for 2 coins. (May be reduced due to yellow cards)

First time players often think that the larger coin represents 5 coins, as it does in a lot of games. There is a reason it represents 3 instead in this game. At the end of the game you score a VP for every three coins you have, so it makes it much easier adding up your points.

There are some cardboard tokens. You use these to record the military levels at the end of each era. At the end of each era you compare your military strength with the players either side of you. You score (or lose) points each era based on the difference between military symbols, keep track of each separately. If the player next to you has more symbols than you, you take a -1VP token. This is the same every turn and does not change all game. If you are tied you take nothing. If you have more you take a + VP token. The value of this does change, 1 point in era I, 3 points in era II and 5 points in era III.



And finally you get a score pad, where you can tot up the points at the end of the game. While not essential, it is very useful. You can score points in quite a lot of different ways. Going through the points methodically cuts down the risk of missing some points.

What do I think of the game?

In the past I have found I was not quite so enthusiastic as some people over the latest and greatest, but in this case I must admit I am hooked. I think it’s a great game. It’s already my most played game of this years Essen crop, and I can see it getting a lot more plays.

Is it the new Dominion? I don’t think so, mainly because I can’t see it getting as many expansions as Dominion. I’m sure that as it is such a big hit there will be some kind of expansion but it just does not seem as expandable as Dominion. What might be an idea is to have an expansion for the 7 new wonders of the world. We will see.

The game is so easy to teach. Each era you get dealt seven cards, play one and pass the others on, and repeat. OK there is a bit more to it but not a whole lot.

There seem to be a lot of strategies too it. Though so far I have not seen any one dominate.

Mostly though to play you need to be flexible, you need to adjust your strategy as the game goes on. OK you may want to collect the Green (Science) Cards to go for the sets, but if you notice a couple of other players are also going for them it might be a good idea to go for something else as the opportunity to get Green cards has just decreased.

You need to decide if you are going to compete with the Military or not. A successful military campaign can yield up to 18 points, but chasing a military strategy and not getting the points can cost a lot of missed opportunities with other cards you might have played. Don’t compete at all and you could lose 6 points over the duration of the game.

The blue cards give victory points and also quite often allow free buildings in the next era. It’s very easy to score a lot of points form the blue buildings.

You can gain a lot of points from the guilds, but you don’t know which ones will be in the game. Also as they don’t enter until the third era, by the time you get them the majority of cards will have been played. They probably add the largest amount of luck in the game. Sometimes you might get dealt one that is a perfect fit for you, other times you don’t see any you can use.

There is definitely more interaction with the other players than in most euro games. Though only with the player on either side of you. In a 6 or 7 player game in particular you can feel pretty detached from some of the other players.

There is a continual military contest. The guild cards quite often give you points based on what your neighbours have built. You need to consider what your neighbour is doing before choosing what card to play. It can be a very difficult choice sometimes when you have a card that can really help you, but playing it means you give your neighbour a card they really need.

So you can see for such a simple game there is an awful lot going on. It’s been one of the most popular games at my games club since Esssen and I think it will be for a long time yet. It plays quickly, usually around 30 minutes, and due to the way that most of the game is simultaneous it does not make much difference between 3 or 7 players.

Some people have complained about the price as it’s just a card game. You do get a bit more than just the cards, but yes it is a bit pricey for what you get. But to be honest the game is just too good to worry about the price.

It must be said the quality of the cards is not that high. I don’t usually sleeve my games (even Dominion), but I have with this. The cards do mark quite easily and apart from anything else it will make it easier to identify cards that are used less frequently, including the guild cards. I also notice my wonder boards are warping a little. Still don’t let it put you off get some sleeves and some very heavy books if you need to, but get this great game.
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Jon D
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Great review John as ever.

Going to take this home and try it with the extended family this weekend - I think it will be ok for them to grasp (other games in the bag would be Bohnanza, Citadels, Ca$h 'n Gun$ & Parade)
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John Bandettini
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jond wrote:
Great review John as ever.


Thanks a lot Jon.
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Larry Doherty
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Great review John. Now I can not wait to get my copy of the game.
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Jeremy Salinas
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Great review as always John...I will start leaving comments more often...just consider me a ninja reader of your material. thumbsup 's and comments from now on.

I agree with your assessment on all accounts. It's still remarkable to me just how much "game" they fit into this box, and were still able to make it enjoyable, quick to play and addictive enough to warrant repeated sessions.

It's one of my highest rated games ever, and I never give out high scores.

Jeremy D. Salinas
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Joel Weeks
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Great review. I played it last Sunday. It is an instant classic. Will be played for years to come.
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Andrew Heim
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What sleeves did you use?
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John Bandettini
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Bannor2000 wrote:
What sleeves did you use?


Andrew

I used these ones.

http://www.boardgameextras.co.uk/item.php?id=1074&name=100+L...:+65+MM+X+100+MM+Sleeves+for+7+Wonders+and+more&cat=48&sub_cat=40
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Bob Marso
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I'd buy it right now if I was sure it was terrific and easy for my wife and I to play with the 2 player rules.
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Jennifer Schlickbernd
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Someone said MtG sleeves may fit? I can get those locally so I'd rather use those if possible.
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John Bandettini
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jschlickbernd wrote:
Someone said MtG sleeves may fit? I can get those locally so I'd rather use those if possible.


The cards are about the same width as MtG, but they are longer. You could probably put them in MtG sleeves but they might stick out a bit.
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Andrew Heim
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Thanks, I guess I will wait to get these when they come out in USA.
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Derek Thompson
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I like the Mayday Games sleeves just fine.
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Bryce V
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bobm174 wrote:
I'd buy it right now if I was sure it was terrific and easy for my wife and I to play with the 2 player rules.


Don't fret the decision, because you couldn't buy the game if you wanted to.

Of course, since you don't REALLY want it, chances are you'd get a copy tomorrow.

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Max Maloney
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Darth_Skeeter wrote:
Don't fret the decision, because you couldn't buy the game if you wanted to.

Cool Stuff Inc has them in stock at the "20+" stock level. Not sure what the real total is, but you can definitely order them currently.
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Greg Williams
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My first game was two-player. Seemed like a pretty satisfying way to play. Only slightly more overhead as you alternately play a card for a third player.
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Bryce V
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Dormammu wrote:
Darth_Skeeter wrote:
Don't fret the decision, because you couldn't buy the game if you wanted to.

Cool Stuff Inc has them in stock at the "20+" stock level. Not sure what the real total is, but you can definitely order them currently.


Dohhh !!!!

1) Thoughthammer needs to find a new distributor.
or
2) Thoughthammer orders a copy from Cool Stuff so they can fulfill my order.
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Kieran Wong
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Thanks for the review, can't wait to get it next week!!
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Was George Orwell an Optimist?
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Darth_Skeeter wrote:

1) Thoughthammer needs to find a new distributor.
or
2) Thoughthammer orders a copy from Cool Stuff so they can fulfill my order.

Cool Stuff shipped my copy last Friday, and it's sitting on my table as I type.
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Bryce V
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I'm surprised I have GG to throw around on frivolous stuff like this.
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Sphere wrote:
Darth_Skeeter wrote:

1) Thoughthammer needs to find a new distributor.
or
2) Thoughthammer orders a copy from Cool Stuff so they can fulfill my order.

Cool Stuff shipped my copy last Friday, and it's sitting on my table as I type.


My silly impatience. Thoughthammer of course e-mailed me the next day to say they finally had them in. Not their fault of course, and nice that they e-mailed.
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John Bandettini
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game_boy wrote:
JohnBandettini wrote:
Top right hand corner will be the cost to build the card.

Don't you mean top left hand corner?


Yep
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Jason Lott
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Great review of a great game, John. I was lucky enough to get this for Christmas and it's already very well-received by me and my friends!
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Travis Cooper
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Good review. I have really enjoyed this game so far. I noticed that you said green cards are only available in era II and III, however, there are green cards in the first era. In fact getting them in the first era is preferable since they will lead into free green cards later. The earlier you start collecting these the better.
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John Bandettini
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game_boy wrote:
JohnBandettini wrote:
game_boy wrote:
JohnBandettini wrote:
Top right hand corner will be the cost to build the card.

Don't you mean top left hand corner?


Yep

In that case can I suggest you edit the post to fix the error? Then we can delete my message and your reply.


Done
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