Game Review: 7 Wonders

7 Wonders, Winner of the 2011 Kennerspiel des Jahres

Just announced today is the winner of the highly-anticipated German game award Kennerspiel des Jahres (“Connoisseur’s Game of the Year” is a rough translation of the award’s name) for 2011:   the addictive 7 Wonders from Repos Production.

7 Wonders is designed for 2 to 7 players, and takes only about 30 minutes to play.  It is suggested for ages 13 and up.

The game uses a card-drafting mechanic, in which players pick cards from a pool in order to fill out their hands and meet some game objective (another game using this mechanic would be Days of Wonder’s classic rail game Ticket to Ride, for example).  There are three decks of cards, each labelled I, II, or III, and corresponding to the three “Ages” or phases of the game.  Each player gets seven cards from Age I, and a randomly-chosen Wonder board.  The various Wonders have various strategic strengths and weaknesses, and each could be considered to impose a particular style of play on its holder.  Each Wonder possesses a singular resource, for example, that its holder acquires for free on each turn, and can use or sell to other players.

The deck of 49 cards for each Age is divided into:

  1. Resource cards (brown) – these have a one-time cost, and allow players to harvest the appropriate resource once per turn.
  2. Military (red) – players compete to have the most powerful military installation at the end of each Age; the most powerful gains a military point, while the weaker players actually gain negative points (not a good thing).
  3. Material (grey) – these provide non-constructed goods that become necessary in order to build higher-level buildings.
  4. Victory (blue) – these cards provide victory points, and may allow construction of more advanced buildings in subsequent Ages.
  5. Technology (green) – building various technologies through collecting sets of cards provides bonus points.
  6. Trading (gold) – enable players to obtain advantageous trading relationships with players to left and right.
  7. Guild (purple) – only available in Age III, which confer victory points through various strategies.

The rules and game mechanic are pretty simple, but — as in all great games — to win requires a combination of luck and sound strategy.  7 Wonders requires that players make all sorts of decisions, and few decisions are straightforward (most are agonizing).  The game is designed to be short enough in duration that you can play “just once more” without stretching your games night into the wee hours of the next morning.

7 Wonders seems destined to be a classic.

In stock now.  CAD$54.99

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