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Saturday, 26 February 2011

Seven Wonders

An impression, not a detailed review

I joined a small, but friendly, gaming group in Swindon in Autumn 2006. On night #1 we played Age of Steam – my initiation into the age of modern gaming had begun. The group members have pretty similar tastes in the main, and I can never recall any serious falling out over choice of game. We all have our preferences – they can generally be accommodated and, if not, they find table time elsewhere when everyone around the table will enjoy them.

We are definitely followers of the Cult of the New. With the exception of fillers, we tend to play new games each week. Or at least that was the case until a few weeks ago. In the last four years very few games have made it to the table three weeks in a row: I can only recall Agricola, Le Havre and Automobile doing so. Of course there are other ‘staples’ that we regularly return to, most notably Ra, Power Grid and Steam. The latter two being highly variable because of the range of different maps available for each.

Since Christmas we have held nine Tuesday game sessions. Seven Wonders has been played no less than 13 times and at seven of these sessions. So what has made this game buck the trend? Why do we continue to play it?

Firstly a little history. Seven Wonders was definitely the ‘hit’ of Essen 2010 – maybe not to the same extent as say Agricola or Dominion in previous years, but definitely had the ‘buzz’ coming out of the show.

Since its release last October it has risen to 15th place on Boardgamegeek, easily the highest of the latest Essen crop. I first played it at Midcon in November 2010, playing it 4 times with up to 7 players. I then ‘helped’ Father Christmas procure a copy and it duly arrived, as if by magic, under the Christmas Tree.

The game in a nutshell

  • - Civ-building game, based on one of the Seven Wonders
  • - Plays 3-7 players
  • - Takes around 30 minutes, slightly quicker with experience
  • - The playing time is constant irrespective of the number of players
  • - Simultaneous card drafting
  • - 18 decisions per game
  • - Generally plays differently each time

The good

  • - Scales well
  • - Quick playing time, you generally play at least twice
  • - You feel that each game is different
  • - Elements of strategic and tactical play
  • - It is fun!

The bad

  • - Maybe a bit lightweight for some (not for me, I love lightweight!)
  • - Nothing else

It helps that we all enjoy playing the game; there is no dissent on that score. There are many paths to victory and each game feels fresh and new. As the playing time is so short, even if you finish with a low score, your first thought is to re-shuffle the cards and have another go. Still a great game – destined for my Top 10 methinks.

It is also somewhat ironic that we have recently discovered Glory to Rome, a more involved game (that we also enjoy) that has some similarities to Seven Wonders. We have now played it two weeks in a row, but will it last?

Any pictures above are copyright Boardgamegeek.

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