This is my first review on the site here, and as an expansion to 7 Wonders, I will describe the new things that the Leaders expansion adds to the base game of 7 Wonders. Any questions are welcome. Also, feel free to give me some tips. This is my first and I am welcome to criticism.
Some of my pictures are not working yet. I'm trying to get used to the site. If you can give me tips on picture placement, how to resize them, where I should put them, or anything else I would appreciate it. Using the Upload New Geek Image is what got them to work, but the broken ones are the ones I uploaded directly to the game page (that might have been a mistake?) and they need to be approved. Should I just use the external image thing? I could just flickr all my stuff or something. Thanks.
Let's talk about what you get in the box:
Leaders comes, nicely packaged, in a rectangular box that is roughly half the width of the base game box. It makes me think that Cities (coming soon) will sit next to it nicely for stacking. That said, there isn't enough stuff in the box to make you need to bring it with you everywhere. You can just drop the new stuff in your base game box and make transport easier if that is your style.
Inside the box is a rule book, four new guild cards, 36 new leaders cards (White), one blank leader card (for you do design as you wish), a Leaders-specific scoring pad, 17 cardboard coins worth 6 gold in game, one Courtesan Guild Token, and the new Wonder, Rome, and its card for randomizing.I will talk about each part as I get to it, but let's talk about the leaders and how they are used first. Structure is necessary!
Upon looking through the leaders cards, you can notice some fairly obvious cards. A good portion of them have symbols you already know from the main game. Some give 1-2 victory points at the end of the game for each card of the indicated color that you have in play, some give science icons that you can use to get some crazy science scores, and yet some others just give straight victory points. These are useful, but not altogether interesting at first glance.
The crazy stuff comes in some of the new icons. The first few games of Leaders you play will involve passing around the rule book so you can check what some of these things do, but once you have seen all of them you should be able to deduce or remember the effects that they have. I'll give you a few examples so you can see the weirder new icons and what they do.
Tomyris causes any -1 military tokens that you would get to be reflected back to your victorious neighbor. Virtuvius awards you with two gold every time you build a card for free by having its prerequisite. Plato gives you seven victory points for each set of all seven colored cards you get, meaning you could get 14 VPs if you are a real jack of all trades.
The leader cards are obviously the biggest change in Leaders because they add a small phase to the game. Before the Age I begins, everyone gets four leader cards. Players then pick one of those four to put into their hand, and they pass the rest to the right (Like Age II cards in game). This keeps going until you get the last card back to you. You have to take that one, but you only get three chances to play Leaders throughout the game, so don't worry.
Now the rest of the game happens as normal, but before each Age starts you all get the option to play a Leader card. This lets each player play three leaders throughout the game.
Note: 7 Wonders: Leaders makes all players start with six gold instead of three. This is so you can purchase your first leader without crippling yourself.
The four new guild cards are simply added to the pool of guilds from the original game. The same number of guilds are incorporated into each game. The guilds are similar to the others giving points for neighbor's leader cards, neighbor's guild cards, and bonus points for your remaining money.
The Courtesan Guild allows players to copy the effect of a neighbor's leader card. This one has a Token that you put on the copied leader, as a handful of leaders have effects that act during gameplay. Having a leader that your neighbor is copying doesn't effect you though.
The new wonder, Rome, is tailor made for Leaders by integrating with the cost to play leader cards. Rome either gets leaders for free or for a discount (depending on the side chosen) and can get a player up to five leaders in play (after drawing four more) if you use Side B.
Note: The Promo wonder, Catan, has a side that requires the Leaders expansion. I have included a picture of that wonder so you can see the Leaders integration. Catan's first step lets the player draw one more leader card and play one more as well.
The 6 coin tokens are an odd addition to the game. Yes, Leaders is more focused on money, but I still find it unnecessary. My mom trades in her six coin tokens for three coin tokens at the end of the game to make it easier to score. The one other thing, if you have an early print of 7 Wonders you might have the nice painted wooden tokens for silver and gold. This makes these 6 gold cardboard tokens look pretty weird in your game.
The scoring pad is great. I'm glad it is in there as my first pad is getting low. Also, how could I complain about the scoring pad?
The last thing is Semiramis, the blank leader card. I haven't used him at all yet, but just know he is there. If you all agree on his effect you could make Leaders interesting on your own. I'm excited to look up variants to see what people have come up with.
7 Wonders: Leaders was an expansion that I was hesitant to purchase only because I enjoy 7 Wonders so much as it is. This expansion adds a lot more to 7 Wonders than simply the four leaders in your hand that you start out with. It adds a bit of direction that I was not expecting. In base 7 Wonders you have to design your strategy per game on what your first few hands consist of and the wonder that you have to work with, but with Leaders you add a few steps to the beginning of the game, which gets players honed in on a goal a bit earlier. Some cards are basically crazy, but I feel like they are balanced. They only seem crazy because they break the formula of what 7 Wonders was before, but only enough to seem odd.
7 Wonders is the game that started my spiral toward this type of game. I had played some bigger European style games before, but none grabbed me like 7 Wonders' Base Game. Leaders is a fitting expansion to the base, and it is easy to take out the few cards and flip back to the base game if you ever want to. The first few games of Leaders were extra exciting and fun, and it breathed new life into a game that I have played a ton of recently.
Here are my at a glance Pros and Cons for Leaders:
Some powerful cards can give you good direction toward certain specialties early on.
Added phase at the beginning lets you get good leaders for what you want.
Bigger and more interesting than I anticipated.
Easy to take out the base game if you want to. One wonder and its card, and two guilds are all that need to be extracted. That is a lot better than some other games out there.
Quality is great.
Might be a bit much for new players. Play some base games first.
New icons on leader cards makes first few games slow as everyone reads the rulebook repeatedly when selecting leader cards. (Leader phase)
First few games can lead to hard swings in points. I had a few games end with three people at 65 or so and the other two people at 40-45. Not the best for the spirits, but perhaps after a few more games everyone I play with will have a better grasp of what is happening.
If you have played and love 7 Wonders and you want to spice it up a bit and play it a ton more you need to get this expansion. Leaders adds a lot of new strategies and cards to an already awesome base game.
If you haven't played much of 7 Wonders yet, keep playing. 7 Wonders is a great game that you can get a ton of games out of before you should feel the need for more game. Don't go buying this at the same time you bought 7 Wonders. Wait a bit and use this to fall in love with 7 Wonders again.
I'm not going to put a number on this one quite yet. Once I hit about thirty games with the expansion I will feel more justified to do so. Also, I like it a lot thus far. Thirty games probably won't take that long.
-More about me and my gaming trends-
I have been interested in European board games since buying World of Warcraft a long while ago. The Starcraft Board Game was a much better and more interesting game, but it didn't grab me like 7 Wonders did.
Recently, a friend brought 7 Wonders over and we played nine games in one night. Since then I have bought my own copy of 7 Wonders, Ticket to Ride, Dominion, The Resistance, Forbidden Island, Pandemic, Ascension, and more. I have recently been spiraling into this awesome world of board games and have been drawn away from video games, which used to be my main thing. Now, I am excited to buy Puerto Rico and Agricola soon and I spend more time browsing Boardgamegeek than I spend playing Skyrim. Yeah, I am crazy, but I like it.
If you made it this far into this, thanks for reading. Advice is appreciated. If you want to critique my review here and any others I do, I welcome it. If you want to point me toward more games you think I would like, go for it. I'm excited and out of control.
I've seen the same thing you have with runaway leaders with the Leaders expansion. There are just some VERY powerful (overpowered?) card combos in there.
Yeah, the one that really freaked me out is the one that lets players save one resource on green science cards. My brother has played that for Age I and then gotten most of the sciences for free because we didn't see he was doing it. Then we all had to bury/sell science cards so he couldn't just skate through the rest of the game.
I still haven't played enough games to tell for sure if some of them are too good and it just becomes luck for who gets them, or if it winds up balancing out in the long run.