Ian's Movie Reviews
Short Reviews of Movies, Board Games, and Other Stuff

7 Wonders: A Colossal Hit

Sometimes new games being introduced to a group will strike just the right chord and become an instant hit. Seven Wonders certainly didn’t have to go through three ages to gain popularity. It became one of these instant hit games and captured the attention of all who were there for the inaugural game. It has all the right elements to become a hit among groups: its quick, it has an interesting theme, and it can player with larger groups. With everything 7 Wonders has going for it, no wonder it has risen to the heights of board game fame.
Seven Wonders is an easy game for regular gamers to pick up, though takes a little more time to teach non-gamers. Despite that, the learning curve is not too steep, and the actual gameplay is quick (within 30 minutes quick). Therefore it almost demands repeat plays. The fact that it can support up to seven players without affecting game time too much is also a huge bonus, allowing for bigger groups which usually only party games can support.
With a formula like that, its no wonder that 7 Wonders took the gaming world by storm last year. It was the hot new game which conquered discussions and buzzlists. And now that its out, its the game which is requested most at game nights. But is this fame fleeting, like the reign of a Babylonian tyrant? Or will it endure, like the roots of Greek civilization?

Gameplay

Seven Wonders is more of a card game than a board game where everyone is dealt a hand of seven cards and must choose which card to play. The cool part is that once you pick the card you want, the hands rotate, so you don’t always have the same hand of cards to choose from. This is just enough of a different idea that it catches on with new players very quickly.
The goal is to gain as many points as you can through three ages (decks) of cards. The cards are buildings which will produce resources or get points in various ways. Since there are many different types of cards (military, civic buildings, science, guilds) there are a number of different routes to winning. The key is not to try getting points in every field but to focus on a few.
The gameplay is quick since it mostly consists of picking cards and playing them. However, this also means that there is not a lot of depth. There are a lot of strategies, yes, but not a lot of depth. A quick game is great to get a lot of people on board, and the fact that the game length doesn’t increase when the number of players increases is great. But I would still rather have more playing time and go into the theme a little deeper.

Components

The first thing that shines out from this package are the seven wonder boards. There are seven different boards, one for each of the seven ancient wonders of the world. The art is fantastic and really recalls the glory of those ancient times. I particularly like the Rhodes and Babylon boards.
The art is consistently good throughout the cards as well, really giving a sense of creating your cities out of these various buildings. There is a lot of symbology on the cards, but once you’re used to what everything means and positioning of the symbols on the cards, it actually makes a lot of sense.
The cardboard coins and victory tokens are very thematic and serve their purpose well, but it is really the art which is the victor here. There’s lots of detail added and adds a lot to the theme even though the gameplay comes up a little short in this aspect.

Conclusion

Seven Wonders seems to have become an instant hit with many, many gaming groups. There is a lot of buzz around this game and its easy to see why. It is easy to learn (but not too easy), very quick to play, and can support a lot of players which separates itself from a lot of other games. And while these things are used to ensnare new players, its the variability paths to victory which keep them coming back.
The theme of building up ancient civilizations around these great wonders is a great idea, and the art work reflects that well. The gameplay also reflects this through the building of buildings and gathering of resources and the expansion of these buildings in alter ages. But I can’t help but with it would delve a little deeper and really make me feel the theme more. In Settlers of Catan, I felt like I was actually on an island. With Stone Age I felt like my tribe really was struggling to survive. I wish I felt a little more like I was in ancient Greece or Egypt while playing this game.
However, this is more personal preference than anything. I think that I wanted to sink my teeth into this theme so badly that my expectations to do so were too high. The game really is enjoyable regardless and almost everyone I’ve introduced it to has loved it. It seems to have tapped in amazingly well to what board gamers are looking for at this moment in history.

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One Response to “7 Wonders: A Colossal Hit”

  1. Thanks for the review. I’ve considered buying it for a while. The short play time is a real plus.


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