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Subject: Unneccessary Review - 7 Wonders rss

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Marco Castellanos
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This review collects my thoughts and experiences with the base game of 7 Wonders after plays across a long stretch of time.

Overview
In 7 Wonders everyone gets a wonder board that generates a starting resource and has a set number of stages on it. Each stage provides a benefit when completed. You also get three coins and a hand of seven cards. The goal of the game is to have the most points by building your civilization,, at the end of three ages of the game. Each age gets you a new set of seven cards.

Each turn you will take your hand and choose one card out of it to play. Once everyone has chosen you all play the cards you picked simultaneously. The rest of the cards are then passed left or right depending on the age.
You have three options when playing a card:
* Pay the cost in the upper left and play it face-up
* Pay the cost of the stage of your wonder and tuck it face-down
* Discard the card for three coins face-down

Costs for cards and wonder stages are in the upper left and involve resource cards, brown and grey, some cards also have an upgrade track where if you have the previous building you do not need the resource(s). If you do not have the resources at hand you can buy resources from your immediate neighbor at a cost of two coins per resource. There are seven card types.

Brown cards:
Resource cards that generate either one, two or choice between goods. Resources are never consumed but you cannot consume more of a resource than symbols you have. So if you need two wood but only have one wood symbol you need to buy from a neighbor if possible. You can never prevent someone from buying a resource from you or be prevented from buying from a neighbor. You can only buy from immediate neighbors.

Grey cards:
Luxury good cards that always generate one luxury resource. The same purchase rules from brown cards apply.

Green cards:
Three distinct science symbols that score in two different ways. Each set of three symbols counts as seven points. Each matching symbol squares for points, so if you had three gears and two slates it would be nine points for gears and four points for slates.

Red cards:
Military cards that provide a different number of shields each age. Military is scored at the end of each age and you win by having more shields than your neighbors. If you have the same shield count then neither of you score. Winning age one gets you one point, age two gets you three points and age three gets you five points. All points are per victory, and if you lose you only get negative one point per loss.

Blue cards:
Civic cards that are strictly worth the points visible on them.

Yellow cards:
Commerce cards that have a variety of affects. They can generate resources, give coins, get discounts or give points. Any resources generated by these cards cannot be purchased by neighbors.

Purple cards:
Guild cards that score points based off cards collected by neighbors, cards collected by you or wonder stages built. There are ten guilds in the game and you add in guild cards for the number of players plus two. That means you will not see every guild each game. These cards are only in age three.

Each wonder has a stage that requires a card to be played face-down but the cost of the wonder stage is different from that of the card played. At the end of each age instead of passing the final card it is discarded.

You cannot play duplicate cards ever.

When scoring at the end of game each set of three coins is worth one point.

Gameplay Review
Once you are familiar with the symbols and card distribution the game boils down to, "Do I pick a card that will help me more or hurt my neighbor more?". This is not always a straightforward choice. You will be passing cards to the left twice and to the right once. So you have more influence on what your left neighbor gets than your right. The same of course applies to you. The game at first seems like a light hearted affair, but you can remove big scoring opportunities by denying the right cards at the right time.

Play also gets to be very quick once everyone has practice, even in large games the time gets down to thirty minutes.

Even though you only directly interact with your immediate neighbors the whole table's actions impact everyone. If someone decides to take a card that might not have scored well for them or their neighbors players that needed that card can be impacted severely.

Player Count Versus Experience
I have played across all player counts but not equally. For the setup time involved for a two player game, which I did not cover, it is not my first choice. Each player count plays very differently because of the card distribution. A three player game is very tight for military and resources while larger games have more of a focus on the civic points. This game is unique in that it is a more strategic game that supports a higher player count.

One set strategy will not work from game to game or between player counts. Being aware of your wonder stages and what your neighbors are doing and making small tweaks to your card choices are crucial.

Game Issues
After teaching this to a decent number of people I can say there are four major points that usually trip someone up.
* Resources don't expire
* Paying costs for cards and wonder stages
* The special symbols
* Science scoring

None of these are insurmountable, but I recommend playing a few rounds with the cards face-up and explaining each card and action to give players a better idea.

Conclusion
I like 7 Wonders, really I do. The biggest draws for me is that it supports a large group of people and allows for some tough decisions. All while being built on a simple mechanic of choosing a card and playing it. However, I have to ask who is 7 Wonders for?

While the mechanics are simple the scoring is not. The symbols can be confusing even for experienced players, I still keep the rules handy to make sure I don't mis-remember an effect. And adding in more inexperienced players only makes the game take longer and can lead to frustration. I see this touted as a gateway game, but if you mix old and new players they aren't able to play as well and will be lost and confused.

In my eyes the rules are well laid out with lots of clarifications, but again if you are handing this off to someone as their first or second game, they will be overwhelmed. This is not even touching on the setup which requires cards to be added/removed depending on the player count. Again, not arduous for someone who has played but easy to mess up for a beginner.

All in all you get to play a strategic game with a large group of people in a small amount of time, or even a small group of people. Yet I do not find myself captivated by the game. I appreciate it for all the strengths and prefer it over most big group games, but I would not be suggesting it for play.


I rate it a 6 out of 10, according to BGG scoring system: "OK - Will play if in the mood."

Thanks for reading.
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Marco Schaub
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Thun
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Boxer Santaros wrote:
However, I have to ask who is 7 Wonders for?

While the mechanics are simple the scoring is not. [...] I see this touted as a gateway game, but if you mix old and new players they aren't able to play as well and will be lost and confused.


7 Wonders won the Kennerspiel award, so it's most definitely not a gateway game. I don't know who says that, but it's certainly not true. You are right in that the iconography isn't the easiest in the world. And the scoring is pretty straight forward - with the big exception of the green science cards. (It's actually simple: For each symbol you square the number you have plus 7 points for each set. But I know people have a hard time with it. I blame the schools. And Facebook.)
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Dex Quest
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Nice write-up after lots of experience playing. Appreciate it. 7 wonders costs £22 on amazon.uk at present and it's got to be one of the biggest bestest bundles of joy out there for that kind of cash.

Gateway gamer is an interesting topic in itself. I think there are two very different types of gateway gamer - those who are already equipped to jump into something like 7 wonders, san juan, or whatever - maybe they work with numbers in real life and have brains that work in a flowchart-y manner. And then the second type who hasn't been near any number-optimising 'fun' for most of their lives and expects to score at least 2,000 points per move. Choosing an option that's 1.2, maybe 1.5 [woah boy!] times better than another ain't considered a huge amount of fun by some quite normal people you know - until you get them them hooked of course. I can remember playing my first bbg style game, San Juan, and wondering what the heck was going on from beginning to end.
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Chris SC

Madison
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I appreciate all review but am happy to answer your question as to who this is for...folks like me. I am certainly a gamer but prefer light-medium to medium weight games. Give me something that is simple to teach but has at least a few decisions and I am happy ☺. Heavier things can be fun but I feel more stressed and less social.
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Emad Aziz
Canada
Halifax
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I went into the store determined to pick up all the Dominion expansions, but somehow walked out with 7 Wonders and the 2 expansions. Couldn't justify the Babel expansion it cost the same as the base game.

I also read reviews the 7 Wonders Duel isn't as engaging as the original game, hopefully I made the right choice.blush
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Daniel Filipovski
Sweden
Stockholm
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ironhawkx wrote:
I went into the store determined to pick up all the Dominion expansions, but somehow walked out with 7 Wonders and the 2 expansions. Couldn't justify the Babel expansion it cost the same as the base game.

I also read reviews the 7 Wonders Duel isn't as engaging as the original game, hopefully I made the right choice.blush


You did a wise choice. You don't have to pick up everything at once. When you have played the game 20+ times and still love it I would recommend you get the babel expansion because you get 2 expansions inside with the great projects adding some new flawors to the game.

Then if you ever find yourself wanting to play but you are only two players you should try the 2-player variant of 7 wonders, it actually works really well if you are an experienced 7 wonders player.

And if you diden't enjoy it I would really recommend 7 wonders duel. I know at least 3 people who never liked 7 wonders but give 7 wonder duel praises.
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Marco Castellanos
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emptyset wrote:
Boxer Santaros wrote:
However, I have to ask who is 7 Wonders for?

While the mechanics are simple the scoring is not. [...] I see this touted as a gateway game, but if you mix old and new players they aren't able to play as well and will be lost and confused.


7 Wonders won the Kennerspiel award, so it's most definitely not a gateway game. I don't know how says that, but it's certainly not true. You are right in that the iconography isn't the easiest in the world. And the scoring is pretty straight forward - with the big exception of the green science cards. (It's actually simple: For each symbol you square the number you have plus 7 points for each set. But I know people have a hard time with it. I blame the schools. And Facebook.)


That's part of what I feel is a bit of a paradox with 7 Wonders. It's definitely in the medium weight category but I see it on a lot of gateway game lists.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying it's not fun and I'll never play it. Just that it occupies an odd space in my collection so it doesn't call out to me.
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Marco Schaub
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Boxer Santaros wrote:
That's part of what I feel is a bit of a paradox with 7 Wonders. It's definitely in the medium weight category but I see it on a lot of gateway game lists.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying it's not fun and I'll never play it. Just that it occupies an odd space in my collection so it doesn't call out to me.


I think most gamers have a tendency to rate the weight of games too low.

And it's true to a degree: From a gameplay perspective, 7 Wonders is a light game. What makes it heavier is the iconography and the scoring. Also, I remember that when I played it for the first time, I didn't know what was going on. You need to play it once or twice to figure out how the different aspects fit together. Those things combine make it a medium weight game. (And that's just the base game without any of the expansions.)

I think where it really shines is when you play it as a filler with 3-5 people. It only takes 30 minutes, but since you basically have no downtime, you feel like you've played a real game. I've played this with my sister and her boyfriend 40+ times and I still think it's great.
 
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Peter Magro
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It is a Great game. For two players 7W Dual is very good for 2, but it is 2-2 players. 7W is 2-7 or rather 3-7 with 7W Dual out then- more usefull.

Dominion is all different. More tactics less strategy in my opinion.
 
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