So, 7 Wonders, yeah? Award winning game, bloody awesome, lots of fun, seven players building a wondrous society through the medium of cards in half an hour… everyone knows it. If you’re unaware of it, Antoine Bauza’s excellent game has players drafting cards in order to create great civilisations by first collecting resources then using them to pay for buildings. The different types will give you boons and points, and over the space of three rounds (representing three Ages) you’ll eventually – hopefully – create one of the Wonders of the World. The most points wins… and that’s about it.
Or at least it was until M. Bauza decided to prolong the 7 Wonders experience by coming up the first “proper” expansion for the game, not counting the promo boards representing the Mannequin Pis and Catan Island. Leaders adds a whole new element to the game – actual forward planning. Rather than just seeing what cards are handed to you and seeing how you can best utilise them, Leaders sees you given an extra four cards at the start of the game that may well influence how you play…
Like in the base game, these cards are drafted and you’ll play one of your chosen leaders face-up the beginning of each Age. By checking out what leaders people have selected it could well give you an insight into what kind of strategy they’re aiming for and, as such, will effect how you play as well as what cards you’ll pass round the table. It also means that your opponents will have the same knowledge, so do you focus on using your leaders and risk people screwing your plans over.
It’s a whole new level of gameplay to consider and one that lends itself to those who are more experienced in the world of 7 Wonders. With so many new ways of scoring points – including stealing them from under the noses of other players – it’s certainly not something I’d throw newbies into, or at least not until they’ve got the workings of the base game down. While it doesn’t add a huge amount of complexity to the game, it’s an extra thing to concentrate on that could put them off. Stick with folks who know what they’re doing and you’ll be grand.
There are also four extra Guilds and a whole new Wonder to play with, this time representing the city of Rome. As you would expect, it’s pretty Leader heavy, but after several plays it feels pretty balanced when compared with the other Wonders available.
Production wise, it’s on the same level of quality as the original release. The artwork is lovely throughout, with the various leaders gorgeously realised by artist Miguel Coimbra. In order to pay for these extra cards, you actually get a bit more cash at the start of a game and so there’s a whole bunch of new coins (worth 6 money) included too. Unfortunately, if you have the first edition that came with the wooden coins, you may not be too pleased to know that the new 6-value ones are thick card. For those who are fussed about such stuff, places like spielmaterial.de will be delighted to supply you with plenty of discs to replace the infidel cardboard…
All told, Leaders is a great expansion for an already excellent game. Adding perhaps only ten minutes on to a game, even with seven players, is totally fine. The only downside – if it can even be called that – is that there’s a bit more maths to handle at the end (which you’d expect, of course) but hey! That’s why the excellent Boardgame Scorer App by Forrest Wang exists!
7 Wonders: Leaders was designed by Antoine Bauza with art by Miguel Coimbra and was released through Repos Production and Asmodee (amongst others) in 2011. You can pick up a copy for around £20 (though it’s currently £16.49 at Gameslore) and is well worth the investment. Now, when is Cities out…?