With Spiel 2010 just around the corner, it seems that 7 Wonders is about to conquer the world of board gaming much like Dominion did in 2008. After hearing talk about it, I looked into the rules.
First, some vital statistics. The game is for 3-7 players (with a two-player variant) and is being published in the United States by Asmodée. Antoine Bauza is the designer, and the art was done by Miguel Coimbra. There’s a suggested age range of 10 and up, and the game should take about 30 minutes to play. Throughout the game, you’ll be playing cards to complete structures, construct a wonder, and earn money. The player with the most points at the end wins.
At the start of the game, each player will receive one wonder board which gives them a goal for the game. Completing the wonder is not a prerequisite for victory. Instead, it is there to add flavor to the game. There are two sides to each board – one simpler side and one more advanced side. You should decide as a group which side to use, though you can decide to choose randomly. Each player also begins with three gold.
The game is divided into three ages. At the start of each age, players will get seven cards from the corresponding deck. Before beginning play, you’ll have to take out cards that are for a number of players you don’t have. If you only have three, you’ll only be using the cards marked 3+. With four, you’ll be using the 3+ and 4+ cards. And so on…with seven players, you’ll be using all cards. It seems a bit weird that the seven player cards are marked 7+, even though you can’t play with more than seven players. Preparing for an inevitable Tower of Babel expansion perhaps?
Back to gameplay. Each player looks at their hand and chooses one to play during this turn. The other cards are set to the side. Once everyone has chosen, players take their actions simultaneously. There are three ways to use your card:
- First, you can build the structure on the card by paying the indicated resources. Resources are produced by your wonder board and some other structures you may already have built. There’s no physical resources you must spend – if you have two structures that produce stone, you have two stone to spend. You can also buy resources from your neighbor on the right or left for two gold per resource. Buying a resource cannot be refused, and it does not keep the neighbor from also using that resource.
- You can also try to construct a stage of your wonder. Again, you’ll be spending resources, but you will not reveal your card. Instead, you will place it under the stage space on your wonder board to indicate that it is complete. Each stage will provide some benefit, whether resources, points, or special abilities. There are usually three stages per wonder, though one of the advanced boards only has two stages, while another has four. You have to build the stages in order – number one first, then two, then three. You can only complete one stage per turn.
- You can also discard your card for three coins. Again, you will not reveal your card.
After all actions have been taken, pass the cards you didn’t use to your left (to your right in the second age). After the sixth turn, you will discard the last card that didn’t get used since there are only six turns per age. At the end of the age, compare your military strength (shields) with your neighbors on your right and left. If you win, collect a victory token (+1 in Age I, +3 in Age II, and +5 in Age III). If you lose, collect a defeat token (-1 in all ages). If you tie, nothing happens.
After the third age, the game is over, and you count up your points from structures, wonders, and money (+1 per three coins you have). The player with the most points wins. If there’s a tie, the player with the most money wins.
Why am I interested in this game? The card drafting mechanic is interesting. I really like drafting in Fairy Tale and Notre Dame, but it sounds like this draft is on a larger scale. You can try to hoard cards the next player may be looking for – using cards for wonders and money are really good times to keep that card your neighbor might really need. The card development also intrigues me. The use of cards as different things reminds me of Race for the Galaxy, and the possibility for combinations and differing card powers makes me think of Dominion. I’m also impressed that the game can be played with 7 players, only takes half an hour, and is NOT a party game. I am quite sick of party games these days.
I’m looking forward to hearing more as the game is released this month. I’ll point you towards W. Eric Martin’s review on Boardgamenews.com, aka BGN. You should also take a look at the game’s page on Boardgamegeek.com, aka BGG, where you can track the game’s reception as the release date comes closer. And, if you’re ready to buy this sucker NOW, it retails for around $50, but you can probably get a better deal online.
Thanks for reading this inaugural post at Boards and Bees. I hope to be back soon to talk about another game that’s interesting me.