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Wicked Little Town – Rampage review

Rampage COVER

During my childhood – as has often been mentioned here on the site and the show – I played a lot of video games. Still do, in fact, during those down times when there isn’t a pile of cardboard sat on the table. It’s interesting when these worlds collide, as generally it can lead to some pretty decent results – see the range released by MB in the eighties based on classics like Pac-Man, Zaxxon and the criminally underrated Turbo, for example. Now, many years on, we have a new addition to the stable as Repos Production presents Rampage. While not officially based on the Bally Midway arcade original of the same name, the premise is certainly very similar – giant monsters are destroying the city! The twist though? You’re the one doing the smashing and crashing.

Yup, in Rampage you get to stamp, crush and generally wreak havoc on Meeple City, dashing all the buildings within to the ground and eating the tasty inhabitants within. There are also vehicles to hurl, powers to trigger and a surprising amount of decision making to get involved in. Designed by Antoine Bauza and Ludovic Maublanc, this is a very different creation to games that they’ve previously been responsible for but what is life without mixing things up a little? Why shouldn’t the guys who created titles like 7 Wonders and Cyclades go off the deep end and create a dexterity game with massive kaiju? Thankfully the world allows for such madness, because Rampage is a bloody hilarious experience that also happens to be a great game too.

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Behold beautiful Meeple City! Stunning beaches! Breathtaking vistas! Giant flesh-eating monsters at every turn!

 

Now, I’ll be the first to admit that setting up the game takes a little time. You’re creating buildings that are dotted about the board by stacking meeples upon thick card ‘floors’, repeating until each one has three floors aside from the massive central stadium that is only one storey high. Everywhere you see a little meeple icon, randomly place one on that spot to ensure that the buildings are stable – for now, at least – then choose your monster’s starting corner. Players are then given three cards, one each from three different stacks that give you a characteristic and power (which everyone can see) as well as a secret super power. This is a one off boost that, once revealed, must be discarded. Once those are sorted out, it’s time to commence destruction.

Each player has their own monster lizard – no giant gorilla or werewolf in this game, sadly – that comprise of two wooden bits, the Paws and the Body. You get the chance to perform two actions per turn from a range of four, of which moving is the most basic – just put your body to the side and flick the disc that represents your paws to where you want it to go. I’d suggest a few practice flicks before beginning the game properly so you get your eye in as that disc is pretty solid, but with practice you’ll be hurtling about Meeple City in no time. If you’re in the same colour coded neighbourhood as one of the game’s four wooden vehicles, you can pick it up and throw it at a building (which is done by balancing the wooden piece on your monster’s body and flicking it) – this, with some decent aim, can be a very destructive action, so is a pretty strong choice. For even more ruination, you can pick up your body and drop it on a building as long as your paws are touching the sidewalk that surrounds it.

Finally – and most stupidly – you can unleash your monstrous breath. Literally. This is the most mental part of the game, where you must place your chin on your monster’s head, breath in and bloooooooow. Of course, being hunched over means that you can’t get a lot of air in your lungs, but it’s hilarious when you set yourself up to unleash hell on the city and end up with a pathetic gentle breeze that barely moves a meeple. Not that that’s happened to me at all. Oh no. Or my mate Ben.

Once your actions are done, any meeples that are in your neighbourhood are eaten, up to a maximum of the amount of teeth you currently have. Yes, teeth are important, and the amount you have are shown on your player board. You’ll always have a minimum of two, but your starting six can be lost by getting into fights with the other monsters or being responsible for meeples escaping. If any of them tumble out of their buildings and off the board, they’re deemed runaways and placed on a special side board. At certain times – every three or four, generally – something bad will happen to the monster who let the final meeple escape and complete a set. It’s not exactly a fair way of dealing with fleeing meeples as one player could get hit with every single punishment, but it’s certainly funny when that happens…

There are actually six different meeple colours in Rampage, and points are only given at the end of the game for each set of six that you manage to collect, thus emphasising the importance of a balanced diet. Each rainbow set brings in ten points, while any that are left over are worthless. Floors that are collected through the game give you a point each, regardless of size, and are grabbed any time you’re responsible for clearing one off. Bonus points may also be gained from your cards and – surprise! – whoever has the most at the end of the game is the bestest monster. The game ends when either the last floor has been eaten or the runaways board is filled, but either way you’re looking at a playtime of between thirty minutes to an hour.

Things are... well, not going to great in Meeple City.

Things are… well, not going to great in Meeple City.

Rampage is raucous, silly, wonderful fun. Sure, the decision making is limited, but there’s enough in there to silence the critics who have decried it as dumb. Do you attempt to slam into an opponent and hopefully limit their meeple munching abilities later in the game or try and sidle up to a nearby building and prepare to drop onto it from a great height? Planning for that balanced diet can be a tricky too, so moving around the board as you seek precisely what you require is a challenge in itself. Of course, the main issue is that of your dexterity – if you’re unable to flick that Paws disc of yours efficiently, you’re pretty much going to be screwed when it comes to Rampage, but I’d urge you to practice. Dismissing this as a stupid party game because you’ve not got the skills or patience to get good at it is a ridiculous notion – devote a bit of time to it and you’ll see that this is a (not so) little gem.

On that subject, there’s been plenty of comment on BGG about the price being too high for what can be boiled down to a simple game. However, you look in the box and tell me that you can’t see where all the money goes. More wood than you can shake a stick at. Gloriously thick tiles that are designed to take plenty of damage. Individual art for each card. As always, Repos have excelled in their production quality and it’s fantastic to see the company taking a chance on something that’s very different to their normal releases. Yes, it’s far from the most serious and deep game in the world, but it’s such bloody fun! And after everything is done, isn’t that why we play games? For the fun and enjoyment? Put aside any qualms you may have and give Rampage a go – the kid inside you will be delighted.

Rampage was released through Repos Production and was designed by Ludovic Maublanc and Antoine Bauza. Released at Essen 2013, between two and four players can get in on the destruction of Meeple City (though I reckon that more is better – plenty of opportunity for smashing other monsters up). Copies are a bit hard to find at the minute, but expect to pay around £40 when it’s easier to get. Let the destruction begin!

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Crossfire – Hanabi review

Hanabi COVER

The 2013 Spiel des Jahres is announced next Monday (July 8th) and I’m pretty sure that the winner is going to be a tiny wee game from Antoine Bauza called Hanabi. While he’s previously won the Kennerspiel with 7 Wonders, he’s never taken the big prize – however, this little co-op card game about putting on a fireworks display truly feels like it’s got what it takes. Hanabi should, by rights, end up on Game of the Year lists all over the place when 2013 draws to a close. It’s honestly that good.

From the off you realise that Hanabi does things a little differently. Years of muscle memory and instinct are cast aside from the moment you pick up your cards, as you never actually get to see what you’re holding. Plenty of mistakes will be made when players pick up a new card and glance at it, destroying the whole idea behind the game – but you soon learn to be careful, sliding the card across the table and diligently adding it to your hand. Your collective task is simple – to create five lines of cards, numbered one to five, in five different colours – and the explanation of how to play takes mere moments. Eight tokens sit on the table, white on one side, black on the other, and it’s these that drive the game.

Each turn, you get to choose from one of three options. Flipping a white token to its black side lets you give some information to a fellow player – pointing at cards they hold and saying “these cards are yellow” or “this card is a 2” is the order of the day. What the player does with these details is entirely up to them, but generally they’ll be shuffling their cards around in a desperate bid to remember everything that they’ve been told throughout the game so far. Rotating a card, holding is sideways… whatever system you use to recall what you’re holding is legal, as long as you don’t look at the faces.

Option 2 is to discard a card you hold. Flipping a token from black back to white lets you throw a card from the game, never to be used again, but this can be both a blessing and a curse. You may well think you know exactly what you have in your hand, but there have been countless times when I’ve seen people get rid of something that they could have used. Sure, it buys you back another chance to pass around some more information, but there’s little more gutting than seeing someone chuck away a valuable 5 card. With the ten cards in each colour divided unevenly (1, 1, 1, 2, 2, 3, 3, 4, 4 and 5), keeping track on what you can viably discard without ruining your team’s chances is vital.

These are the cards that will infuriate and delight. Also, you'll notice that they've been designed with colour blind gamers in mind. Always a nice touch.

These are the cards that will infuriate and delight. Also, you’ll notice that they’ve been designed with colour blind gamers in mind. Always a nice touch.

Your final choice is to simply play a card to the table, either starting one of the five colour lines or adding to one already begun. If you are correct and the card is legal, excellent! You add to your collective score, hopefully making your way ever closer to the maximum 25 points that can only be attained by getting all five 5 cards in play (my best so far is a healthy 19 – not bad, but not so good… plenty of room for improvement). Should you manage to play an incorrect card, you anger the gods who send a lightning bolt your way as they fight to ruin your show; three of them and it’s game over.

Sharing of information, playing or discarding cards… that’s all there is in Hanabi. And yet, despite its simplicity, there is so much tension and pressure to deal with it ends up feeling like more of a challenge than fifty cards should be able to provide. You’ll find that you never really have enough information to definitely guarantee everything you hold in your hand. In fact, focusing solely on that is a quick route to losing the game for your team. Sure, you need to do your best to remember what you’ve got, but must also consider what your friends have as well as what’s been played or removed from the game. Hanabi swiftly becomes a high pressure situation where you find you’re second guessing yourself constantly while praying the other people around your table don’t take what you’ve said in the wrong fashion.

It’s the information sharing that truly makes the game enjoyable. Seeing someone point out that a player is Very Specifically Holding A Useful Card That They Should Probably Play Soon, only to have them annoyingly hold onto it while trying to help out others is so gloriously frustrating… there’s no game like it. The looks of anguish that flash across players’ faces as they desperately try to recall what they were told three rounds ago are hilarious, and the feeling of satisfaction when you actually manage to successfully add to a line is unmatched. Such a huge amount of gameplay in a tiny package is a great thing to behold – and that’s not even the whole story.

You see, there’s another set of ten cards in there too. This multicoloured group can be used in a couple of ways, either making your life easier or much, much trickier. Your game can be simplified by using them as wild cards where they act as any colour you like, or you may choose to ramp up the difficulty by using them as a sixth set. Whether you’re looking to simplify things (especially when playing with younger gamers) or feel like a bit more of a challenge, it’s great to see that you have options.

Oh yeah, and you can get the whole thing for under seven quid. A soon-to-be award winning game for a pocketful of change is not to be turned down – Hanabi should be sitting on your shelf right now.

Hanabi was first released as Hanabi and Ikebana in 2010. Designed by Antoine Bauza, the English language version is due for release by R&R Games this summer (though this review is based on the German language ABACUSSPIELE edition). Should you want a copy – and if not, why not? – you can grab them from Gameslore for £5.49. Get in on it before it truly hits the big time!

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Mr Wonderful – An interview with Antoine Bauza

I’ve been lucky enough to recently do a bit of back and forth emailing with Antoine Bauza, designer of such great games as 7 Wonders, Ghost Stories and Takenoko. Here’s what happened…

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Michael Fox: So Antoine, let’s begin with less of a question, more of a request: could you tell me a little bit about your gaming history? What kind of things to you like to play and what got you into the hobby?

Antoine Bauza: I’ve played every kind of game throughout my life; traditional family boardgames as a kid, a lot of roleplaying games as a teenager, Magic: The Gathering and others. I’m also fond of videogames. At the end of my studies (I did chemistry and computer science), I attended a game design school in France and after that, I tried to find work in the video game industry. I didn’t meet with much success; it was a bad time for videogames in Europe and it was very hard to find a job focused on on game design (which I was looking for because I suck at programming, graphics and making music…). So I took another path and became a school teacher! I started to play modern boardgames around 2003 or 2004, and started designing my own games around the same time. After several unsuccessful prototypes, my first game was published in 2007: Chabyrinthe from Cocktail Games.

MF: What were those early games like? Anything that you’ve drawn ideas from since hitting the big time?

AB: Honestly, I cannot remember precisely those early games. There was something about washing machines, one about wrestling, another about stray cats fighting for a neighborhood… The only one worth remembering is Ikebana, the big brother of Hanabi… It was my first finished prototype.

I remember I sent it to Repos Production because a friend of mine told me they were nice people. They did not publish the game in the end but the CEO, Cédrick, called me to talk about the game and give me some feedback. I really appreciated that he did that because usually publishers don’t even bother to respond to unknown designers… Then a few years later we ended up working together on Ghost Stories and 7 Wonders.

MF: Of course, those two big hitters really helped you make your name on the designer games scene. Could you tell us a little about Ghost Stories? I’ve played it a few times but have never managed to actually win… did you intentionally design it to be so punishingly hard?

AB: Ghost Stories is my only heavy (well, not so heavy I guess) game and the first cooperative game I designed. And yes, it’s a hard game and we intended it to be like that because both Repos and I are mean! Seriously though, we wanted to make a challenging game because we love co-ops and we think many are too easy for expert players. But to tell you the truth, the game is not so hard and when you know it well you cannot lose at all in easy mode and almost never lose in normal or nightmare mode. The White Moon expansion does make the game a little easier. The Black Secret expansion, well… that depends on the player who’s in Wu-Feng’s shoes… Try to find a nice guy to do it!

MF: How about 7 Wonders then? What was the genesis behind that? And did you always have it in mind that you’d be able to play with seven people?

AB: I wrote down the complete genesis of 7 Wonders on my blog but yes, the first idea was the make a light strategy game playable up to seven because there were always seven people showing up to my regular games night.

MF: Were you surprised at how well 7 Wonders was received by gamers? It seemed to come from nowhere and was suddenly on everyone’s table!

AB: Well, we knew the game was certainly going to be a success. We did a lot of demonstrations at a lot of conventions, toy fairs and we had a lot of very nice feedback before it had been released. We were confident when the game finally came out but we never expected to have this amazing level of success! You never know if such things are going to happen, that’s part of the magic!

MF: One thing I love about 7 Wonders is the opportunity for expansion. You’ve already had Leaders and Cities released and I know there’s a forthcoming Wonders Pack too. I heard a rumour that you’re planning on eventually doing Seven Expansions – is there any truth behind that?

AB: Well, my publisher planned the seven expansions… I’m just going step by step! Currently I’ve got two prototype expansions in development – codenamed Armada & Babel – but there is still a lot of work to do on both so I cannot guarantee anything right now !

MF: Do you actually get to play it much yourself? And do you have a preferred strategy or Wonder board that you always like to get?

AB: Sure, I’ve played a lot of games but I did stop for a while. Taking a break, you know, clearing my mind and getting ready to be able to work on the next expansion. I can’t say I have a favorite Wonder or Strategy but I try not to stick with just one way of being efficient! (Secretly though, I like to try playing without resources, using lots of Yellow and Green cards, but shhh! Don’t say it at loud!)

MF: Ha! We know how to beat you now, Antoine! You’d better watch out in future! Now, could we move on to Takenoko? It’s a curious little game that’s been very well received – even Wil Weaton mentioned it recently on Twitter! How did the idea for it come about?

AB: It all started on my first trip to Japan, back in 2003 when I visited Ueno Zoo. At the entrance there is a funny statue that caught my eyeThen when I got back to France, I started think about a bamboo growing game with two pandas… that was almost nine years ago.

MF: NINE years?! I didn’t realise it had been in development for so long! I suppose the success of 7 Wonders helped get the attention of publishers so you could push your other designs?

AB: Yes, sometime it takes time… The prototype had many many versions. The publishers (Matagot & Bombyx) worked for a very long time on the wooden pieces and miniatures. 7 Wonders did open some doors with foreign publishers – mostly in Germany and the US – but for now, all my games are published by either French, Belgian or Swiss ones, so the success of 7 Wonders isn’t that relevant yet… I’ll certainly take this opportunity in the future, because I like to work with different people and companies.

MF: So what are you working on at the moment, Antoine? Anything you can tell us a little about?

AB: This year I’m actually spending less time on boardgames. I want to experience something different before I get bored! Right now, I’m working on a small videogame project that involves some game design but concentrates mostly on story writing. But I’ve still got some boardgames in the pipeline: those 7 Wonders expansions, a brand new cooperative game (codename Sinbad) and a brand new resources-and-card-based development game that’s pretty different.

MF: Exciting times then! Are there any designers out there you’re a fan of? Anyone whose games you particularly enjoy playing or keep an eye out for?

AB: Besides my fellow french designers like Bruno Cathala, Bruno Faidutti, Ludovic Maublanc and others, I always like to keep an eye on Vladaa Chvatil – he’s an amazing game designer. I like Rob Daviau’s work too!

MF: All good designers! Have you managed to try out Risk Legacy?

AB: Of course ! I think Risk Legacy is the most innovative boardgame since Magic: The Gathering!

MF: High praise indeed, Antoine! Now, finally, is there any advice you have for aspiring designers? Any suggestions you may have to help improve their games and get them noticed by publishers?

AB: I’ve seen several aspiring designers spending all their time and energy on a single idea and prototype. I believe you have to make gameS (plural!) to learn how to make gameS! You also have to be a good observer and listener, paying attention to the people playing your prototype, catching what they enjoy and what they don’t like. Then when it comes to publishers, you’ve got to actually see them and play your game with them. I don’t believe in any of that “sending the rules by email” stuff…

MF: Fantastic. Thanks for your time Antoine – it’s been a pleasure!

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The Magnificent Seven Return – 7 Wonders: Leaders review

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…

Some of the thirty six Leaders found in the box.

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.

ROME DEMANDS WONDERS. Actually, that’s the wrong game, isn’t it?

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…? 

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The View From The Afternoon – 7 Wonders review

I’m pretty sure that the vast majority of gamers out there are at least aware of 7 Wonders even if they haven’t played it (which, of course, a lot of people have). Antoine Bauza’s super-condensed game of city building has gained the respect of many players for several reasons, the main one probably being that it’s able to handle up to seven players at a time yet plays in around thirty to forty minutes. There’s very few games on the market that provide such a range but scale so well, so that’s invariably the reason that it’s scooped so many awards over the past couple of years – including the 2011 Kennerspiel des Jahres.

Each player begins with a play board depicting an ancient wonder of the world, a small amount of money and… well, that’s it. The objective is to build up your own civilisation over the space of three ages, each one represented by a deck of cards. These are shuffled and dealt out, giving each player seven to choose from. This is sorted out before play begins with a little bit of card removal – all cards are marked at the bottom denoting whether they should be included or not. Once you’ve chosen a card you lay it down, pass your deck to the next player, grab the one being handed to you then do it all over again until you’re down to two. With those, you choose one to play and one is discarded.

Brown cards are natural resources, Greys are manufactured. Meanwhile, Yellows allow you to skew the rules in your favour.

These cards can’t be just chosen willy nilly, however. You’ve got to make sure that you’ve got the resources available to put them down in front of you. Everyone begins with a single resource, but as the game progresses you can grab cards to add to your stack. Some cards require one or more resources before you can play them – if they have an image in the top left corner, you’re going to need to either make sure you’ve got that at your disposal. If you don’t, you can check if the player to your left or right has it, then pay them for the privilege. Sure, it may be a pain having to hand over some of your very limited funds, but if it helps you along it’s money well spent.

As you progress through the three Ages, you’ll notice that the cards get more and more powerful – and expensive. There’s one way around this; keep an eye out for stuff that you’ve already built. Some cards give you a free pass to build others, even if you can’t get the necessary bits you would ordinarily need. It’s a great way to build up your points or give you bonuses to use throughout the game, but you still have to make sure you’ve got enough resources to cover yourself for other purchases.

Blues give out plenty of points, Greens are for stacking Science. The Guilds are represented by Purples and could really swing the game your way.

Another element occurs when you end an age; WAR. When the cards run out, it’s time to take on the players to your left and right. Throughout each age you have the potential to pick up red cards that give you shields – if you have more at the end of an age, you’ll get points (one, three or five). If you have less, you’ll grab a minus one token. It’s a good way to pick up some easy points – after all, you only need to stay slightly ahead of those people next to you.

If you’re looking for yet another way of scoring, you can always go down the Sciences route. Green cards have three icons – cogs, tablets and compasses – that could potentially net you some huge points. Collecting a set of all three is good… but getting a bunch of the same is even better as the points scale, squaring as you go; one, four, nine, sixteen… it gets very valuable very quickly. Purple cards represent Guilds and are only available for drafting in Age III and can really give you some huge points too – they’re pretty expensive but could turn the tide your way. Get a couple down in front of you and the game could easily be yours… maybe.

A couple of Wonders - bonuses aplenty are available if you get to build those stages...

Of course, there’s also the Wonders from the game’s title. Depending on which one you draw, there’ll be between one and four levels that will give you a hefty bonus. Instead of putting your chosen card face up before you, as long as you have the resources you can put it underneath your playing board. Some may grant you victory points, others bestow money upon you, while a few give you extra shields or resources. It’s not entirely necessary for you to build your Wonder, but if you choose to leave it behind you’d best make sure you’re working on a few other plans.

Initial games may actually prove a bit confusing. Though the gameplay is incredibly simple – draw a card, play a card, pass the rest around and repeat – there’s such a wealth of options available to you the whole game can feel pretty daunting. Do you grab as many blue cards as possible and boost your points or focus on a military strategy to beat up on your neighbours? Should you go for Science or just concentrate on your Wonder?

Not available in the box! This one's a promo with only one Wonder level... but WHAT a level. The winner of the game has to buy you a beer!

To be honest, every time you play your strategy will be different. There’s so many different possibilities in a game of 7 Wonders that your best bet is really to try and keep an eye on what everyone else is doing, then go down a different path. Obviously this is trickier when you’ve got more players, but that’s what adds to the enjoyment of the game. While your main focus will be on your neighbouring players thanks to the whole war and resources thing, being able to have an eye on the whole playfield will certainly help.

Personally, I’m completely head over heels with this game. I love the fact that it works with such a wide range of players (though I must admit, I haven’t attempted the two player version yet) and is still finished in such a short time; it’s the very definition of a One More Go game. The artwork is solid throughout, as is the graphic design – everything is incredibly clear and simple to follow with splendid iconography.

Being a card game, it’s pretty hard to mess up the production, but thankfully the folks at Repos Productions have made sure that the stock used is nice and thick, the player boards are of good quality and the box insert is actually pretty useful. This review is based on the newer edition of the game, meaning that the wooden coins of the original have been replaced by cardboard bits. Again, these are nicely done, but I’m a sucker for wood – however, I can see why the switch has been made; not only does it save money on production, it also ensures compatibility with expansions that also come with cardboard cash.

Having played it a fair few times, I can see why 7 Wonders has won so many awards since its release. It treads that line between accessibility and slightly more complex games beautifully, open enough for even novice players to pick up quickly but still giving those who seek a challenge plenty to think about. Antoine Bauza has done something that is quite hard to do in the world of game design; he’s managed to create a relatively level playing field. No wonder the plaudits keep coming in… and you can definitely add me to the ever growing list of fans.

7 Wonders was designed by Antoine Bauza with art by Miguel Coimbra. Released in 2010 through Repos Production, between two and seven players can attempt to build their own civilisation in around half an hour. The game can be expanded through the Leaders set which is out now as well as the forthcoming Cities pack; now go and get it, for it is awesome. Oh, and if you’ve got an iPhone, I heartily recommend getting the free 7 Wonders Scorer App which makes life a lot easier at the end of a game!

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