Review: Seven Wonders (Board Game)

Taking Civilization back to basics.

Developer: Antoine Bauza
Publisher: Repos Production
Number of Players: 2-7
Playtime: 45 minutes
Release Date: Available Now


Seven Wonders is the definition of a classic game both in theme and in quality. Over the course of 45 minutes, it tasks players with guiding a civilization through three distinct ages in the hope of crafting the richest, strongest, most well-rounded empire they can.

Every player starts the game with the blueprint of an ancient wonder. As it is built, this wonder will award distinct bonuses that should encourage players to tailor their surrounding civilization in a complementary fashion. This is achieved through a simple yet elegant mechanic that opens up such an astonishing number of options it will take multiple games to even realise they exist.

At the beginning of each age, every player is dealt 7 cards – these represent different buildings or resources. Every turn they are invited to choose one and pass the rest of their hand around to their neighbour.

With this single card, they must decide whether to:

– Place it in front of them (providing they fulfill any prerequisites), unlocking that building’s bonus permanently for your civilization
– Burn it for money
– Use it to build a stage of their wonder

Buildings can provide the player with resources that are used to place future cards, award culture, science, military, or give discounts when buying resources from another player.

On a surface level, these mechanics can lead to some obvious choices but which is the most tactically superior is often not as clear as it first appears – maybe, the statue that awards a lot of culture seems good now, but a basic lumber mill will have your neighbours paying big bucks further down the line to gain access to it. You might want to purchase a trading post to minimize your expenditure, but if you do, the player next to you will probably build the military fortification, scoring them valuable points at the end of the age. Maybe the sound tactic is to use that military card to build a stage of your wonder; unlocking a new buff and depriving everyone else in the game of the chance to gain a military edge.

Despite the increasingly complex level of strategy, turns are quick because all players choose their cards simultaneously, leaving very little down-time regardless of the number of participants. The player interaction is technically minimal; no-one can destroy another’s established buildings and only neighbours can pay to access each other’s resources in order to place more complex building cards. Similarly, military victory points are only gained by having a more powerful army than an adjacent civilization. Despite this you are still encouraged to keep a close eye on all your opponents since it is almost impossible to win the game without some co-operation. I’ve seen powerful empires stunted because half a table failed to construct any marble quarries, locking out the ability to place vast swathes of late-game buildings, and during another game, several players essentially forfeit as they all passed an apparently useless guild card which awards victory points based on adjacent civilizations’ military around to a weak player surrounded by legions.

This passive competitiveness ensures the atmosphere of the late game is tense but never bitter. Players spend their final turns realising- too late- the possible strategies that they failed to implement (or prevent) and almost every game closes with at least one person insisting we start another so they can “do it properly this time”.

And everyone else agrees.

Hugely re-playable
Easy to pick up
Scales to a large number of players
Civilizations aren’t heavily differentiated

Seven Wonders is as at home around the family dinner table as it is amongst your hardcore gaming group. This is the title with which to start your board game collection.

The review copy of this title was purchased by the author.
Official Game Site

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