H C
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Background:
The first time I played this, I was a few months into the hobby, and I think I was a little tired during the explanation so I kept forgetting the symbols and small things. When gameplay started, I found myself lost in the sea of symbols and unsure how to best get VPs. I found myself flooded with new options every turn of 7 cards, then 6 cards, then 5, and so on. I hated that because I didn't know what sorts of cards were coming up. I had also never drafted before, so that confused me, especially since I did things at the same time as the others, which meant I couldn't watch and learn from anyone else.

But one of my friends mentioned that its one of his favorite games, so I decided to watch a review (Dice Tower's I think) of it to learn the game so I could play with him. So I did, and the review made things a lot clearer, since I could look back with better perspective on my first 1 or 2 games. After the review, I went to a gamer meetup again, and I was invited to play. I asked another friend to reexplain the game to me, and it became a LOT clearer this third or so playthrough. Watching the explanation video and reading up on the game a bit helped a lot, and because I had played more games in the interlude between my plays (these 2 or 3 plays occurred in a period of a few months), I was also more experienced with concepts like drafting or resource management. That game that night went a LOT smoother for me, and I really enjoyed the decisions I had to make and the relatively high depth:time ratio. I also learned a bit of anti-drafting to my neighbors, which I enjoyed.

I ended up winning that game, and others commented how well rounded my scores were in every category, interestingly enough. I had got just enough military to win against both my neighbors, and I had gotten a lot of resources (which got me a lot of coins from my neighbors), getting at least one guild and at least one other high point card at the final age. My science was a bit weak, but I really liked it, and I looked forward to playing again. I was hesitant to give this game a good scoring though, because I thought I might be biased since I won.

I played 7W a few times since then, gradually solidifying my opinion of it. I began to like it more after I had learned it; I liked the speed of play, yet its time was closer to a filler than anything else. I loved that, and I also enjoyed the nice illustrations, the relative variety game by game, and I liked the theme, having never played a Civ themed game before (I still haven't played a true Civ game BTW but 7W is the closest and my favorite). There were many times when people asked what to play, and we would be short on time, and I would want to play 7W, I found. (The only other short game that felt this good to me was Splendor up to this point)

Pros:
1) 30-45 minute playtime is very quick for a game with this many decisions and its relative amount of strategy/tactics. This time is including setup and teardown, and I think its very good for a game to be under 45 minutes and still have a fair bit of heft to it.
2) low/no downtime since players play at the same time
great art
3) good replayability since there are many wonder boards and strategies (ex military, science, guilds, etc). It may get old eventually, but almost every game will, and this one will likely give someone enough plays per dollar that it will be worth it (7 wonder boards and 3 or 4 different ways to approach the game each time will probably yield well over 30 or so different enough plays)
4) interesting theme, and a lot of the cards make thematic sense, like the markets and some buildings. Some may not make perfect sense, but most games to some high level of abstraction for the sake of solid mechanics (which I find more important)
5) Essentially language independent. Its a lot of pictures and symbols, so different speakers may learn it about as easily. This can be bad too though (see below).
6) Scales great IMO. I like it at all player counts, even if I can't affect people further away from me as much. I love that it plays in 30-45 minutes regardless of number of players. Excellent!

Cons/Possible Cons:
1) Hard to teach newbies (myself being a prime example) due to symbols, simultaneous play, and idea of drafting (drafting is easier if they are MTG players though!). I kind of wish there were a set of beginner boards, kind of like how Eclipse has everyone start with the humans. But that would have probably raised the price of production a bit much. Having just a bit of text with some symbols would have been nice IMO.
2) More tactical than strategic since hand by hand, you may just decide whats best now and go with it
3) Though you interact a fair bit to your immediate neighbors, people more than 1 seat away from you are a lot less likely to be affected. You can draft the cards they may need down the line or predict what they'll get, but sometimes you just can't affect them much at all
4) Its a little expensive for what you get in the box
5) Pretty much language independent. This can be good or bad. Personally, I think a small few words would have helped the clarity and learning process
6) Sometimes you can get a little screwed in luck of the draw or so. For example, you could be short just one resource from buying a super good card you need, but the resource card type was taken by people across the table, so none of you nor your neighbors have it. I kind of wish there were some rule like "You can buy anyone's resource for 5 coins" or so, as this would give you more options in exchange for a high penalty and increase interaction across the table...but I think this may also hurt the balance of the game

Neutral:
1) Hands may or may not come back around. Some people like this, while others don't, but depending on the number of players, you may see some hands and may not see others return. I don't mind either way, since I'm not good enough to remember what I sent around the table or which player is holding that iteration's hand
2) More boards and maybe more cards to try out would have been cool, but I am not desperate for them since replay is plenty good. (The cities expansion does add an extra card per hand and the wonder pack adds more boards, but I haven't made my mind up about the expansions yet, though I generally don't buy expansions personally)
3) I'm not sure all the wonders are balanced equally. But I'm also not sure how one would test that. I don't mind too much though, because I think good play will on average trump luck

About expansions:
I've played Leaders, Cities, and I may have tried one or more boards from the Wonder Pack expansion.

I personally didn't like Leaders, as I didn't like everyone needing to check the new leaders and symbols. They also dictated your strategy a bit more, and I felt some players started with a better leg up for no reason. (ex the leader who gives you 6 coins and you neighbors 1 each I think) I would probably like it more with more plays, once I got used to it though, much like the original. But I also disliked the added time and prefer the smoothness of the base game. I am personally not crazy about adding more time to what is supposed to be a short game.

I think Cities was okay. I didn't feel a huge difference, and I'm not sure how I feel about the peace symbol (diplomat that lets you stay out of war). I think it could be good for adding more replayability, but once again, the base game is so excellent, I don't think this'll be needed for at least a long while.

I don't remember if I have played Wonder Pack boards yet, but from what I can tell, they are just new boards, adding some replayability and flavor. I think they are a fine idea and probably play fine.

Can't comment on Babel, but it sounds fine I suppose. I personally just like the base game and don't like adding anything that may make it clunky, though my tastes may change in the future.

My opinion of the game:

Firstly, I hear a lot of people say this makes a great family/gateway game. While it is high on the Family Games Ranking (#1 last I checked), I personally think it does not make a good gateway at least. I recall my friend telling me she and her friends tried it and it took over an hour for a game (and she plays MTG in the drafting format!). I remember my first experiences too when considering this (see above). However, for a 2nd or 3rd game and with a good, patient teacher, I think this can be picked up without too much trouble and can make a very entertaining light game. It especially helps if new players sit next to experienced players, so they can ask the previous player about the passed drafting cards, I've found.

Anyway, that aside, I really, really, really like this game. It plays fast, it plays smooth, its fun, its constantly giving you tough ish choices to make, its art is good, its theme is good, and its very engaging for all the players. An excellent game that I think many gamers should consider adding to their collection, especially since its one of the few games that plays 6-7P very well (this is rare and usually, most game groups I know must either play a 1-5P game or split into groups at 6P+).

Should you get this?:
Read the pros above and the cons too. If you like the sounds of the pros a lot and the cons don't bother you too much, and you like the sound of the game in my opinion above, then I think its probably a worthwhile buy. I still recommend at least playing the game once before you do, because its not for everyone, but most people I know really like the game. Most gaming stores and game groups have this, so its not too hard to try out. If you don't like the the pros much and care a lot about the cons, I think you should still give 7 Wonders a try (or two) to see if it'll maybe change your mind, as it did mine.
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Michael J
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While I understand some of your complaints about the Leaders expansion, I feel that they add a nice level of uniqueness to your empire that was missing before, since no one else can have he same leader. They give your civ some added personality, and increase the combo potential. But you are right that they come with added complexity, symbols, more learning time, and possible imbalances. As much as I think 7 Wonders nailed the symbolism in the base game, I feel like they fell short with Leaders and Cities a bit, as each has icons that make no sense without the rule book.
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Kåre Dyvik
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About Leaders:
I printed 7 copies of the descriptions of the leaders, so all players can read simultaneously, and we don't have to wait for the single copy of the rules to be passed around to everybody before play can be commenced.
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nappeto wrote:
About Leaders:
I printed 7 copies of the descriptions of the leaders, so all players can read simultaneously, and we don't have to wait for the single copy of the rules to be passed around to everybody before play can be commenced.
Cuts the "obligatory, first time, everyone looking through the rule book to figure out what the new symbols are" from 20 minutes to just a few minutes!
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Got more specific examples on which leaders caused more rule checking?

I thought a lot of the symbols appeared pretty straightforward. Maybe Hatshepsut but many others are equivalent symbols or clearly colored. Possibly the once per turn concept or the fact a mask can't copy the same science card twice from the same neighbor.
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H C
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Nope, its been a while and I dont recall the leaders symbols that confused us. Remember that its not like you check a leader once. A leader can end up passed around and you have to check it multiple times if its different people seeing it for the first time. It probably would be faster after having played it, but I dont care enough to try yet since base 7W is so good for me.
 
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Fernando Robert Yu
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I love this game and play it with 7 Wonders: Leaders and 7 Wonders: Cities all the time. These do not radically change the gameplay unlike 7 Wonders: Babel, so it would the latter which I will probably not use all the time.
 
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