Playing the Board Game 7 Wonders
7 Wonders is a card development game published by Asmodee Games in 2010. When you play Seven Wonders, you control one of seven different cities in the ancient world. You and your opponents use economic strategy to build a civilization whose fame will resound through the ages.
Seven Wonders Instructions
Seven Wonders plays fast and is easy to learn. Most games take between 20 and 40 minutes, while most players should be figuring out strategy by the second or third play. Since this is one you can play several times in the night, everyone at the table should have the instructions mastered in one game night.
Players take control of wondrous cities of the ancient world or, better put, the regions associated with the Ancient Seven Wonders: The Hanging Gardens of Babylon, The Pyramids of Giza, The Lighthouse at Alexandria, The Colossus of Rhodes, The Temple of Artemis at Ephesus (Turkey), The Mausoleum of Halicarnassus (also Turkey), and The Temple of Zeus at Olympia. The playable card deck includes 155 cards with the pertinent information you'll need to play without reference to the rulebook. Also included in the basic set are the military tokens, which contain the military standards of the Roman Empire (not in the game). These tokens represent military defeats, so you don't want to collect these. You also get currency tokens representing gold and silver coins. Finally, you get 50 score pads to record your score according to several criteria, a rulebook full of instructions, and a nice insert for storage in the game box.
7 Wonders Rules
The 7 Wonders board game is the rare game which feels like it's the same game whether you play with the maximum number (7) or the minimum number (3). That's because a key rule is, for the sake of trade, military matters, and scoring, each player only interacts with two players in the game: the player to their right and the player to their left.
Seven Wonders has three phases, called ages, in which the game plays out. Each of these three ages come with their own set of cards, depicting different stages in civilization. You'll need a specific number of cards in each age, depending on the number of players in your game. It take a minute to figure that out and count them out. In the 3rd Age, Guilds are added to the deck.
Card Drafting in the 7 Wonders Game
When the game starts, each player is given seven cards. Players select one of these cards, place it face down, and passes the deck to their left. Then the cards you selected are revealed. You continue selecting a card and passing the rest to your left until you have two cards left. At this point, you'll choose one card and discard the other. You end up with six cards in your hand. When you have the 6 cards, that signal the end of the age.
Everything isn't that simple, though. A couple of stipulations apply. One, you can't have two cards in your hand that are exactly the same. Two, cards aren't automatically activated when you select them. Instead, you have to a pay a cost to activate them. If you can't activate the card, you can discard it for 3 coins. This does happen sometimes when you are low on cash.
The 7 Wonders Card Deck
You'll find six different types of card in 7 Wonders. Of these, five are active in Ages I, II, and III, while a sixth is only active in the Third Age. The types of cards active throughout the game are Resources, Civilian Structures, Commercial Structures, Military Structures, and Scientific Structures. The card active only in the last age is the Guild cards.
Resources lets you pay for most everything else that's activated in the game, while commercial structures tend to give economic benefits or discounts. Civilian structures contribute to victory points, but they become more expensive with each succeeding age. Scientific structures can turn into big points later in the game, if you're able to collect sets of them. Military structures let you dominate the competition, collecting victory points while damaging opponent victory point totals.
Guilds include end-game victory point bonuses which can boost the values of other cards, depending on the resource strategy you chose. These are pivotal cards, much like the 6-cost development cards for those who've played Race for the Galaxy.
7 Wonders Strategy
Keeping track of you neighbors' moves is important in Seven Wonders. When I say "neighbor", I only mean the person directly to your left and directly to your right. These are the only people you directly interact with. These interactions can be positive or negative.
On the positive side, if you don't have necessary resource, but your neighbor does, you can spend 2 coins to buy this resource from them, simulating trade. This does not take the resource away from them (they use it, too), but it does free you from having to collect every resource card that appears in your deck.
On the negative side, military strength (or weakness) can affect your victory points. At the end of each age, players add up their military values. A player with a higher military number gets bonus victory points: one in the 1st Age, three in the 2nd Age, and five in the 3rd Age. On the reverse, if you are weaker than a neighbor in any age, you lose 1 victory point (no more). This becomes good incentive to build up you military strength, but not so much that 7 Wonders becomes simply a military build-up game. In fact, 7 Wonders is a well-balanced, innovative game, so anyone who enjoys resource management games should be thrilled with the 7 Wonders card game.