A game that has been hyped to ridiculous proportions (and so I desperately needed to play it) was 7 Wonders.
In 7 Wonders, each player (very loosely) represents a civilization that is trying to build their trademark Wonder (such as the pyramids of Giza, Colossus of Rhodes, etc... though you're not penalized in the game if you choose not to build your wonder). The game actually plays out through 3 "ages". Each age consists of the players starting with 7 cards. From these cards, they must select a card to play and pass the rest to the person next to them. This continues until they only have 2 cards left, at which time they play one and discard the other. After each age the players compare military might against their neighbors (thus gaining or losing points). This continues until the end of the third age, at which time players count up points for military conquests and different kinds of buildings built, with the player having the highest score winning (I know you're shocked by this outcome).
The first (and most obvious) pro that I have for 7 Wonders is the draft mechanic. I have seen this mechanic before (in Magic booster drafts), but I have never seen it in an actual game. Therefore, I find it very innovative that 7 Wonders was able to take this mechanic and build a high quality, strategic game around it. I appreciate any time a game introduces a new mechanic, and this one worked especially well.
The next pro that 7 Wonders does better than most games on the market relates to flexibility with regard to number of players. 7 Wonders claims that it can be played with 2-7 players (though the 2 player game is a variant), so the main game can be played with 3-7. More importantly, the game can be played well with 3-7, without really feeling like it is too long (players make decisions at the same time) or unbalanced (you primarily interact with the people next to you) if you add or subtract players. This means that I can carry 7 Wonders around with me and play it without having to worry about whether that week 3 people will show up, or whether there will be 7 - definite pro!
The next pro that I will mention is in the different paths to victory that 7 Wonders allows. With that said, I don't believe that any player will be able to win by focusing only on one aspect of the game. However, between military conquest, science, religious buildings, and constructing your wonder, there are enough varying elements to the game that different strategies can be applied, each of which will have a legitimate chance at winning.
The final pro that I will mention here is how you are able to borrow resources from other players. To build certain cards, you must have certain resources available. Since no player will have all of the resources they need all of the time, the game has been designed so that you can trade with your immediate neighbors. Knowing that you may be fickle with whether you want to trade with your neighbors, the designers of the game didn't give you the option - you can't say no (though, as a good businessman, you do get paid when they use your resources). This and all of the other rules related to trading work very well and help the game to flow smoothly (as well as allowing for more strategic options such as whether you want to build resources or just rely on borrowing from the people next to you). (Just as a note before moving on, I also liked the concept of a predecessor building - where you don't have to pay the resource cost for a building if you have built the correct "predecessor" building already. This also added more options on how to pay for construction costs.)
Now with all of the glowing part of the review out of the way, it is time to mention some of the things that I didn't like as much. First, 7 Wonders takes us tons of space! Ignoring the fact that the cards are all oversized, each player will wind up with about 10-18 cards in front of him by the end of the game! Yes, several of the cards will be stacked on top of each other, or hidden under your wonder, but this still winds up being about 1-2 square feet of play area per player (maybe more). I have not been able to play a full 7 player game yet, but I am not entirely sure whether it would fit on a standard sized table - I'm almost completely positive that it will not fit on my dining room table.
The next, less cosmetic, con is the depth level of the game. After a few plays where I tried out several different strategies, I began realizing how few options are actually available in the game. Most of the decisions you are making are: 1) how am I going to pay for buildings? (through predecessor buildings which let you build later ones for free, through my own resources, or by using other people's resources), 2) do I care about science, or am I just trying to keep other people from getting it? and 3) how much military am I going to build? With this said, mixing up the number of players and the seating position will help with some of the replayability of 7 Wonders, but overall these are the basic decisions that will be made each game. After all the hype going into it, I was really hoping for more choices out of 7 Wonders.
One neutral aspect of 7 Wonders that I would be remiss for not mentioning is the amount of iconography in the game. What each card does is depicted only in images. Because of this, the game can take up less room (it doesn't actually take up less room, but it theoretically could). More specifically, it means you can quickly see what you have in play. This works very well once you know what all the images mean; however, you should expect to look up what different images mean repeatedly through your first play or two of the game. On the bright side, since you know that you will be passing these cards to the next player, you can go ahead and hand them the cheat sheet on the back of the instructions to look it up when you pass the cards - because they'll have no idea what it means, either.
Overall, I give 7 Wonders an 8.5/10. It is a very good game, but it took a little while to grow on me (I think part of this is that it didn't live up to my heightened expectations). Whereas I think I will continue playing the game repeatedly, I don't see myself getting together with people for the sole purpose of playing it - it will probably serve more as a high-end filler game than a "main entre."
Want a second opinion? Check out Play Board Games' review of 7 Wonders or I Slay the Dragon's 7 Wonders review. Or, to discover more games, check out Glory to Rome, Innovation, and Smash Up.