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Subject: The Gamer Nerd Review: 7 Wonders rss

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Nicolas Shayko
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full review with images at: http://www.thegamernerd.com/reviews/7-wonders/

7 Wonders is a game that at its core features one mechanic: drafting. It uses drafting order to develop cards in order to score points with a mostly pasted-on theme of ancient city development. It is popular among strategy board game players due to its shorter length (30-45 min) than most games of its ilk and plays best with 6 or 7 players, as opposed to 4. It was created by Anthony Bauza and published by Asmodee Games stateside.

The Components

The core of the game is three decks of cards which are drafted and labeled I, II, and III on the back. The front of the cards have decent artwork that fits the theme. Like many more complicated strategy card games, the cards feature many icons that can be a hindrance to first-time play. These icons are not nearly as daunting as those in Race For The Galaxy, but it still is a hurdle to deal with.

The game comes with 7 unique player boards made of thick cardboard and these are the best designed components of the game. Each board represents an ancient city and has neat artwork to go with it. It is these boards that distinguish 7 Wonders from just being another card game from a component standpoint. The game also includes cardboard money tokens.

7Wonders_alexandriaThe Gameplay

7 Wonders is a game that consists of playing 18 cards, and the goal is to score the most points using those 18 cards. Each player is dealt a hand of seven cards from the Age I deck of cards. All players simultaneously select one of those 7 cards to play onto their board splayed out in front of them. The other six are passed to the player on the left. Then play is repeated with a hand of six, selecting one and passing yet again. This is done until each player is left with just 1 card to pass which is then discarded. Military points are given (more on that later) and then this same exact process is repeated in Age II, except that the cards dealt are passed to the right. It is done one more time in Age III, passing to the left.

The cards that are played are of a number of different types. Many cards cost resources to play, which can only be played if resources are acquired from a player’s own tableau or bought from a neighboring opponents tableau for 2 coins each. Some cards can be played for free if a prerequisite card has already been played. Rather than get into too much detail, I’ll skim over the remaining card types:

Brown and Grey cards provide resources. Once resources are played, they can be used an unlimited number of times for future card plays, but only once per icon played.

Yellow cards provide money or buying discounts.

Blue cards provide straight victory points.

Green cards provide science icons which provide points with an exponential effect for playing the same icon.

Red cards provide military strength. After each age there is a military battle where each player battles the person to the left and right of them; the winner of these battles gets victory points and the loser takes a -1 victory point marker.

Purple cards are special bonus point cards that only appear in Age III.

Instead of playing a card regularly, a player can build part of their unique wonder (the game’s namesake), which provides some benefit, usually victory points or resources. The cost to build these wonders is printed on the player board. After playing the three ages, all the points are added up and the player with the most points wins.

The Strategy

7 Wonders is about drafting cards that work well together. Often focusing on a couple of ways of scoring is the best way to go. This most obvious strategy is choosing to play green cards, as they have the potential of being worth a lot of points since they score exponentially. Military (Red) is the opposite of Science (Green) as it does not matter how much a military battles are won by, but rather just if it is a win or a loss. It is questionable as to how many resources to lay down, since they don’t score any points themselves, but having more down makes it easier to play cards in the future to score points.

This being a drafting game though, the key strategy is counter-drafting. The way to do well at 7 Wonders is often to be drafting what other players are not. If only one person is drafting green cards, for example, that person will probably win the game. The special abilities of each player board also lean a player toward a certain strategy. For instance, if a player’s board offers resource versatility, then not as many resources will need to be played in order to win.

7 Wonders Final HandMy Thoughts

The first few times I played 7 Wonders, I did not like the game. As I play it more, it has grown on me, but I still don’t love the game. The biggest thing I dislike about it is the total lack of interaction. I have played games of 7 Wonders with 7 people and can only name 2 of the people I played with. Why? Because it really only matters what the person on the left and right of you does, as you can only buy resources off of them and you only battle them in military skirmishes.

Another thing I don’t like is how scoring is done. The game is played and then this spreadsheet is crafted to determine who the winner is. It takes a while and is totally anti-climatic. I like having a feel for the flow of the game, and it is hard to do in 7 Wonders. I have played the game about 10 times, and with more plays the flow will become clearer, but since you are never paying attention to players not adjacent to you, it is difficult or otherwise distracting.

7 Wonders can be a decent game if played with the right group at the right pace. Oftentimes though I feel that it is choppy and boring. At its best, it’s a quick, fun, 30 minute game of building a point-churning engine. At its worst, it’s a slow drag of one hour or more with slow players deciding which cards to play. I wouldn’t reject a game with someone who wants to play 7 Wonders, but I won’t choose it myself.

(Note, this is a review for 7 Wonders Base Game)

Read more reviews at www.thegamernerd.com
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Gamer D

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Regarding player interaction, 7 Wonders actually works well with three players (some might say it's best with three even). That's because with three both of your opponents are your left and right neighbors so you are constantly interacting with them on military, trading and so on. Also with three players there is the possibility of seeing a few cards multiple times in a single age which can theoretically give you something else to consider when choosing your intial cards.

Also note that there is a fantastic ioS app for 7 Wonders that among other things has a very handy scoring feature. Just follow the scoring wizard, tap a few touch screen buttons and your done. It definitely helps move along the end game scoring.

Personally I like 7 Wonders, it's fun. Not AWESOME but a nice filler. Unfortunately each of my game groups has a player who hates the game (one thought it was confusing and the other thought it was too random). So for now it's kind of shelved.
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Scott Douglass
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I've never understood the problem people have with the scoring. I just stack cards/tokens in piles of 10 or 20 points, add in science, and I'm done.

7 Wonders is best with 3 because the game is tightest at 3, you are directly interacting with all of the players, and you'll get to see each hand twice. At 3, the random factor is smallest, and there is less room for weak players to hand someone a win with little understanding of what they are doing.

I think that the player interaction works well. One of the things that contributes to 7 Wonders being such a fun game is how fast paced it is, and it would be difficult for a game with this type of structure to flow quickly with much global player interaction at higher player counts. The economy in particular would not work very well at higher player counts if you could trade with everyone.

I think of 7 Wonders as a short strategy game rather than as a filler, but it's certainly fast enough to be used as a filler. Most fillers don't have 33 page strategy articles written about them though...
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Jorge
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sdougla2 wrote:
7 Wonders is best with 3 because the game is tightest at 3, you are directly interacting with all of the players, and you'll get to see each hand twice. At 3, the random factor is smallest, and there is less room for weak players to hand someone a win with little understanding of what they are doing.


I love 3-player games in this one. But there's a catch in these games. Be the only player who goes green: you win. If there are two who go for greens, the third one wins.

So, basically, it's slightly more easy to stack up more greens in a 3-player game, as fewer players will have the chance to screw up with you. So, you might actually win with little understanding.
 
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Scott Douglass
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Picon wrote:
I love 3-player games in this one. But there's a catch in these games. Be the only player who goes green: you win. If there are two who go for greens, the third one wins.

So, basically, it's slightly more easy to stack up more greens in a 3-player game, as fewer players will have the chance to screw up with you. So, you might actually win with little understanding.


No.

If everyone else playing the game is bad, sure, you can win pretty easily with all in science if no one else goes science and the cards don't cluster. If anyone competent is in the game, this won't work consistently.

Even with only 1 player interfering with your ability to get science cards, it's very hard to win with an all in science strategy, and the cards need to be dispersed between hands regardless. 3 sets does not give enough points for a winning score. You may not need a large number of additional points, but I've seen a number of games where someone got 3 sets and came in second or third due to a lack of other point sources. 4 sets should handily win you the game, but also mean that your opponents are awful.

If you go for 1 or 2 sets, you have a great deal more flexibility in getting other point sources than you do going for 3 or more sets, particularly in age 3. You need more additional points, but the additional flexibility is worth it, and the additional competition for other point sources will tend to lower your opponents' scores as well. This also leaves you in a position to react to someone else making a science play without automatically losing. Investing in science early allows you to play science later more profitably if the cards happen to line up for you to play additional science (and makes potentially dead hands valuable to you), but relying on that happening is poor play, and will lose you more games than it will win you.
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Blake Douglass
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Picon wrote:
I love 3-player games in this one. But there's a catch in these games. Be the only player who goes green: you win. If there are two who go for greens, the third one wins.

So, basically, it's slightly more easy to stack up more greens in a 3-player game, as fewer players will have the chance to screw up with you. So, you might actually win with little understanding.


This is not true even in 5-7 player games. I have played a game where there was a single person going science in a 5 person game and I was the only one that seemed to notice, and I prevented them from completing their sets to the point where they had 4 of 2 symbols and 2 of the last symbol. I was not their neighbor and yet I alone ensured that the science player did not get the 4 sets required to guarantee victory. In fact, that player ended up getting 3rd. Going all out science only works if the cards are in the correct distribution, and if the other players spend only minimal effort to stop you from going science.

If ANYONE notices and attempts to stop you from getting all of the science cards, it could prevent you from securing the win. If only 1 person is trying to stop you from going science, it may not stop you completely, but it can still hinder you even in larger games.

In 3 player games, it is much easier for the other 2 players to prevent you from winning with all out science, and the correct card distribution is even more important, as there are no duplicates. This means that while, yes, it is potentially one of the highest scoring strategies, it is also one of the easiest to disrupt.
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Kevin Riddle

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I agree with Scott, scoring up is not that hard, just have everyone remember or write down the total ...
and done
 
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