Seven Wonders is probably the most popular new game of the past year. It has that ability to really catch people and pull them in, and so it caught on with gamer groups really well. But for as much as I loved that other people love it, I myself wanted to love it more. Well now, with their first expansion called Leaders, I can. Why? Because Leaders adds more strategy, more variety, and more personality.
When I first played 7 Wonders, I thought it had great potential but just didn't quite reach it. I didn’t feel the ancient civilization theme s much as I had hoped to. I wanted the game to go deeper into its strategies and take a little more time with the civ-building in order to really grasp the theme like it should be grasped. This was where my disappointment with 7 Wonders lay, and I really hoped that an expansion would address these concerns.
Leaders managed to fill the gap in my enjoyment of 7 Wonders very well. It did exactly what I wanted: it deepened the strategy, lengthened the game ever so slightly in order to let it breath, and added more theme by throwing various historical figures into the mix. And it manages to do all of this without making theme game too complex or bogged down.
So what does Leaders add? Well, leaders! There are 36 new leader cards based on actual historical figures, such as Julius Caeser, Cleopatra, and Plato. These add a new drafting round to the game where you choose the leaders you want to use in the game. What these leaders do is to give the strategic pathways you can choose in the game more depth and more direction. If played right, they can support your claim for military dominance, scientific mastery, or you can even go for plain old wealth, an option made much more attractive with this expansion.
Leaders also gives you three more guild cards to include into the third age. As a player who loves guild cards, more guilds can only be a good thing! Leaders also gives you an eighth player board for Rome, which shows an excellent painting of the Colosseum on it. The Rome board is inexplicably tied to the leaders drafting round as it helps its owners get more leaders and make them cheaper. Yes, technically the Colosseum is not one of the seven ancient wonders, but oh well.
The package also includes new 6 value coins (since money is a bigger part of the game now), a courtesan token which is tied to one of the new guilds, and a new score-pad. These are just there to accommodate the changes to the game.
Leaders is a fantastic addition to the popular 7 Wonders. It scratches the itch that the base game left me with. It makes 7 Wonders deeper and makes me feel more like I am actually in control of an ancient civilizations. I love how thematic the leader cards are! The abilities that the leader cards give you actually match the history of the people themselves! Aristotle and Pythagoras help you with science cards. Midas rewards you will gold. Hannibal increases your military strength. Just want I want to see.
I love how your path to victory can be strengthened by these leaders, but in such a way that you really have to think about how you are going to do it. The new additions also make money a bigger part in the game, which makes it feel deeper as well. Yet, the game isn't made that much longer or more complex. The added length and complexity is just right to make the game richer but not discourage anyone from playing with it. The Leaders expansion simply makes 7 Wonders a better game.
Base Game -
Base Game & Expansion -
My Expansion Ratings
-- The expansion improves upon the original base game.
- - The expansion provides a differing experience than the base game but neither improves or detracts from the base game.
- - The expansion is effective and provides an interesting new aspect, but the base game is still preferred.
- - The expansion detracts from the base game.
Man is most nearly himself when he achieves...
We don’t stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing.
You put it well when you say that the leaders add "personality." Despite the different cities, thematically they aways felt a little bit colder and generic than they should have felt. Leaders makes up that difference. Because you've got them with you from the beginning, I feel like there is some ownership there, like they are in place behind the scenes, guiding the direction (also because they are never drafted again after the first time). Allowing the painted faces on the cards to give me a greater sense of story might feel a little silly if I think about it, but I am having fun with the expansion for the same reasons as you.
I completely agree with your personality comment. It helps formulate your strategy. How your Wonder relates to your Leaders helps decide what you should be aiming for I find!