Tag Archives: drafting

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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