Game Buzz: It’s a Wonderful World

I see trees of green, red roses too, I see them bloom for me and you. And I think to myself…

image by BGG user Laboitedejeu

It’s a Wonderful World is a game designed by Frédéric Guerard, published last year by La Boîte de Jeu. They just finished up a successful Kickstarter campaign for the expansion, which I missed, but I still wanted to post about this game as it was a big hit at Spiel last year and looks pretty interesting. The basic theme is that you’re building an empire through card drafting and engine building.

The board used in this game is mostly storage for the different types of cubes. There are also slots to store Financier tiles, General tiles, Krystallium, the deck, and the discard pile. At the start of the game, each player is dealt one Empire card that gives you some starting production, as well as a multiplier for certain types of cards. The deck of 150 cards is shuffled, and you’re ready to play.

image by BGG user ispeakmath

At the start of each round, there will be a Draft Phase. Each player is dealt seven cards. From these, you will pick one to keep and pass the rest to left (in rounds one and three) or to the right (in round two and four). Everyone simultaneously reveals the card they have chosen, then choose another card from the hand of six they were just passed. This continues until everyone has drafted and played seven cards.

In the Planning Phase, each player must decide what to do with each card they just drafted. You can either slate it for construction, adding it to your construction area, or discard it. If you discard it, you get a recycling bonus of one resource cube. It can be placed on any card in your construction area, or on your Empire card. If you get five cubes on your Empire card, you can turn them in for one Krystallium (red cube), which is required by some cards, and can be used to replace another resource on anything else. If you ever place the last required cube on a card that is under construction, it gets moved to your Empire. If you choose to discard a card that was already under construction, its recycling bonus is placed on your Empire card.

Next is the Production Phase. Here, you’ll be activating any production bonuses in your Empire. This is done from left to right on the game board – grey (materials), black (energy), green (science), gold (gold), and finally blue (exploration). For each type, everyone counts the icons they have and gains that many cubes to place on cards under construction or on their Empire card. Additionally, the player who has the most icons of that type gains the supremacy bonus for that cube – a Financier or General. These are worth one point each at the end of the game, and some cards give extra bonuses for them.

After all resources have been resolved, the round is over. If that was the final round, everyone adds up scores on their Empire cards, from their multiplier bonus, Generals, and Financiers to find the winner. Ties are broken by the player with the most Empire cards, followed by the player with the most Character tokens.

image by BGG user kalchio

One of the things that has irritated me about engine building games in recent years is just how long they take. You start out not really knowing how you want to build your engine, and once its built, it takes a while to activate all the little bits, and even longer to wait for everyone else to activate theirs. Mind you, I still enjoy the genre, I just wish there was a way to tighten them up. And that’s what I think It’s A Wonderful World is attempting here. It’s an engine building game, but everything is more or less simultaneous, so that takes out the downtime while other people run their own engines. It can, of course, be played in a turn-based manner, but this one seems like it clicks along well. I’m very curious to try it out sometime, even though thematically it’s a far cry from what I was originally expecting – I was thinking it would be more of a civilization type game, with civilizations developing in drastically different directions. Instead, it doesn’t look like theme matters too much here. Still, it looks good.

That’s it for today. Thanks for reading!

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