Expansion Buzz – 7 Wonders: Cities

7 Wonders was one of the biggest hits of 2010, and continues to be a success.  It’s unique use of drafting as the primary game mechanism has fueled its run as a top game.  The second expansion is coming out, and it’s called:

image by BGG user mcfer

7 Wonders: Cities expands the basic game from Antoine Bauza and Repos Productions (Asmodee domestically) by adding rules for eight play, new machanisms to use, new wonders, and even new leaders to use in conjunction with the first expansion (7 Wonders: Leaders).  As a brief recap for the base game: 7 Wonders is a game about building up your civilization.  It primarily uses a drafting mechanism during the three ages – each player begins with 7 cards, chooses one to play, and passes the rest.  After each player plays their card (using it for its ability, using it to build a wonder, or discarding it for money), players pick up the cards they were passed and pick again.  This continues until players have two cards left, from which they will choose one and discard the other.  At the end of each age, military between neighbors is compared, and rewards/penalties are assessed based on wins and losses.  After the third age, points are counted and a winner is declared.

7 Wonders: Leaders added…well…leaders to the mix.  At the very beginning of the game (call it Age Zero), you draft four leaders by choosing one from a hand of four, passing, choosing one from the new hand of three, passing, choosing one from the remaining two, passing, and accepting the final card.  At the beginning of each age, you can play the leader, or discard it for money.  I really liked that the expansion gave you some things to work for from the very beginning of the game, rather than just taking blind shots in the dark as in the base game.

Cities adds two new wonders, 27 new age cards with city symbols, 3 new guild cards, 6 leader cards, 31 debt tokens, 3 diplomacy tokens, and a new score booklet.  The new wonder boards are the Al-Khazneh of Petra and Hagia Sophia of Byzantium.  Al-Khaneh only gives points: 3/7/7 for side A, and 3/14 for side B.  Hagia Sophia gives points and diplomacy tokens: 3 pts/2 pts + dipolomacy/7 pts for side A, and 3 pts + diplomacy/4pts + diplomacy.  Diplomacy tokens are one of the new mechanisms introduced in the game – if you earn one, you discard it at the end of the age to skip the military phase.  This means that your neighbors will fight each other, passing over you.

The other new mechanism introduced is debts.  If you play a debt symbol, everyone else must pay coins to the bank or take a debt token for each coin you don’t pay.  You can split it up if you wish – pay some coins and take debt tokens for the balance.  Debt tokens are worth -1 pt at the end of the game.

There aren’t a whole lot of rules changes with the game.  If playing with Cities cards, every player will get eight cards at the start of each round instead of seven – this means that you play seven cards instead of six.  You can also add an eighth player and pay in teams, in which case each player gets seven cards and partners sit next to each other.  You can show each other your cards, but you can’t trade cards, share coins, use your partner’s resources for free, or buy resources from your partner when you could build a building for free as part of a chain.  Teammates will not fight each other, but will still fight an opposing city that neighbors them, receiving double tokens for a win or loss.  Use of a diplomacy token means that you still fight, but you only get one token instead of two.

7 Wonders: Leaders was one of my favorite expansions from last year, mainly because it took the base game and added an extra layer of strategy to it.  Cities looks to also add a layer of strategy, but it also seems to make the game a bit more interactive.  Debts are mean – forcing people to fork over cash or take negative points.  Diplomacy can also potentially be mean, but I can see how that’s a really good play if both your neighbors are about to pound on you – you can force them to pound on each other instead.  And of course, it’s always good to get new wonders.  I’m looking forward to seeing how it plays, though I don’t think I’ll like it as much as Leaders at this point.  Only time will tell however.  Thanks for reading!

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