7 Wonders Review

7 Wonders game mid play

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.


  1. Thanks for that nice review, here's my thoughts about your cons :

    1- Yeah for a small game like that it take a huge table to play it comfortably with 7 players. haha

    2- I agree with you that choices are little bit limited, but your main strategy can vary depend on your draft, so even if there are not a lot of logic strategy there are a lot of possibility. I also heard (but didn't test it) that the expansion : leaders, bring that game to a next level, and but more depth in it. (really looking forward to try it).

    I also agree with you rating (think i had rate it 8.4) it's a cleaver game where experience player can optimize there play, but it's also a really simple game that you can play in 30 min with family!

    Last thing, this weekend i went to a 7 wonders tournament and i've been litteraly crush by a so cute girl...very a fun game!

    for more thought or info on board game follow me on twitter, i post more than twice a day about board game : http://twitter.com/#!/jutrasimon

  2. Yeah, I have the expansion, but I haven't gotten around to playing it yet. Because I have way too many games.... and don't see that really changing soon......

  3. This is fast becoming a "go-to" game in our group. The fact that it is so accessible and can seat so many players makes it a great addition to my collection. I rated it a 9/10, but then I only use integer values.

  4. Just like above poster said, this is my groups goto game still. works with 7 players very well. The addon/expansion is VERY good and provides more depth and strategy options. Its a 9/10 here as well easily.

  5. Good review, though I like it a little better than what your cons suggested. I think it's one of the best games for large groups of people since it's very fast and simple. Furthermore since you are primarily just playing your neighbors and focusing on your own goals, you never really feel miserable about your prospects of winning, which is always a plus in large games.

  6. We picked up this game for xmas after doing a lot of research on many of the top games. Could only find it in a specialty store though is probably my biggest con as it was $50.00. I hope this is more widely picked up bringing down the price and the xpacs as I plan on buying them. Our first game was with 7 people and yes it does take up a lot of space with our standard size 4 person dinning table we were able to play all be it cramped. We also played Magic over the years so the draft mechanic was pretty cool to us and certainly added a mechanic of strategy depending on who your neighbor was and knowing what they would an would not take.

    I would disagree a little bit on the depth level of the game. For us having seven people around the table that have all played Magic at one time another there was certainly a level of play that I would almost compaire to chess. As you are not only keeping track of what direction you go with your game play but also the six other people around the board. When you get to Age III playing defensive with cards or giving up good cards to your neighbor knowing it will be a higher positive out come down the road for you. Also putting enough thought to early part of drafting knowing that what will be available to your indirect neighbors spend enough time thinking about what each person will probably take down the whole original 7 cards you start with.

    I even employed a little table talk to manipulate my way to victory knowing that what my neighbors neighbor did hurt my direct neighbor allowing me to win. This part of the game brought my poker skills into play allowing little comments like "your not going to let your girlfriend have higher offense then you?"

    I will save my rating until after I play it a little more and see how good its replay value really is. If we are still playing this game a year latter at our varied gatherings then it will probably get a 9 out of 10 only losing for cost and space issues.