7 Wonders is a board game created by Antoine Bauza in 2010 and originally published by Repos Production in Belgium. 7 Wonders is a card drafting game that is played using three decks of cards featuring depictions of ancient civilizations, military conflicts and commercial activity. The game is highly regarded, being one of the highest rated games on the board game discussion website BoardGameGeek. 7 Wonders has won a total of more than 30 gaming awards, including the inaugural Kennerspiel des Jahres connoisseurs' award in 2011.
How to Play7 Wonders is a dedicated card deck game that features ancient civilizations. At the start of the game, each player randomly receives a gameboard called a 'Wonder board.' Each board depicts one of Antipater of Sidon's original Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. Players place cards representing various materials and structures around their Wonder boards. The boards are double-sided; the wonders on side A are generally easier to build, while those on side B grant more interesting benefits.
7 Wonders is played over three ages, known in the game as Ages I, II and III, each using its own decks of cards. In each age, seven cards are randomly dealt to each player. The game uses a card-drafting mechanic in which, once per turn, each player selects a card to play from his or her hand, then passes the remaining cards (face-down) to the next player. This process is repeated until five out of the seven cards have been played. At this point, each player must choose to play one of his remaining two cards and discard the other.
Each age card represents a structure, and playing a card is referred to as building a structure. To build a structure, a player must first pay the construction cost, in coins or in one or more of the seven resource types, then lay it down by his or her Wonder board. A player lacking the resources available may pay his direct neighbors to use their resources, normally at two coins per resource, if available.
Instead of building a structure, a player may choose either to discard an Age card to earn three coins from the bank or to use the card to build a stage of his or her wonder. The Wonder boards have from two to four stages, shown at the bottom of the board. To build a wonder stage, a player must pay the resource cost listed on the stage, then put an age card underneath the wonder board in the appropriate place.
There are seven types of Age cards, representing different types of structures, and are determined by the color of their background:
- Red cards (military structures) contain 'shield' symbols; these are added together to give a player's military strength, which is used in conflict resolution at the end of each age.
- Yellow cards (commercial structures) have several effects: they can grant coins, resources and/or victory points or decrease the cost of buying resources from neighbors.
- Green cards (scientific structures): each card has one of three symbols. Combinations of the symbols are worth victory points.
- Blue cards (civic structures [mistranslated as 'civilian' in the game rules]): all grant a fixed number of victory points.
- Brown cards (raw materials) provide one or two of the four raw material resources used in the game (wood, ore, clay brick and stone).
- Grey cards (manufactured goods) provide one of the three manufactured goods used in the game (glass, papyrus and textiles).
- Purple cards (guilds) generally grant victory points based on the structures a player and/or his neighbors have built.
Brown and grey cards only appear in the Age I and II decks; purple cards only appear in the Age III deck.At the end of each age, military conflicts are resolved between neighbors. This is done by comparing the number of shield symbols on the players' red cards, and awarding victory points accordingly. Once all three decks have been played, players tally their scores in all the different developed areas (civil, scientific, commercial, etc.) The player with the most victory points wins.
In the base game, there are seven means of obtaining victory points:
- Military victories - 1 point for each victory (having the most shields) during the first age, 3 for the second age and 5 for the third age. Each defeat makes a player lose 1 victory point regardless of the age.
- Gold coins - One point for every 3 coins a player possesses at the end of the game.
- Wonder stages - Many of the wonder stages grant a fixed number of victory points.
- Civic structures (blue cards) - Each structure grants a fixed number of victory points.
- Commercial Structures (yellow cards) - Age III commercial structures grant victory points based on certain structures a player has built.
- Guilds (purple cards) - The guilds provide several means of gaining victory points, most of which are based on the types of structure a player and/or his neighbors have built.
- Scientific structures (green cards) - Each green card has a symbol on it - tablet, compass or gear. One card of a type grants one victory point, but two cards grant four; the number of points granted is equal to the number of symbols possessed squared. Additionally, each set of tablet, compass and gear possessed is worth 7 points.
Revisions and Expansion
At present, five official expansions have been released.
7 Wonders: Leaders (2011)
This expansion introduces the white-backed leader cards, which can be recruited to aid a player's city. The 36 leader cards are based on real historical figures, some of which are well-known, such as Caesar and Midas, others less so. There is a brief biography of each leader in the rulebook.
Playing with the Leaders expansion changes the game mechanic, as the second thing done in the game after choosing a Wonder board is to choose leaders. Four leader cards are dealt to each player, and the cards are drafted so that each player ends up with two cards they chose and two they did not. At the start of each Age, players may recruit one leader, paying its coin cost and putting it into play. To compensate for this extra expense, with the Leaders expansion, players start with six coins instead of three. As with the Age cards, instead of recruiting a leader, a player may choose to discard the card to gain three coins or build a Wonder stage with it.
The leaders grant various abilities, including additional means of gaining victory points, resources or coins, resource cost reductions, commerce benefits, additional shields and scientific symbols. For example, the 'Caesar' card grants two shields and 'Midas' grants one extra victory point per three coins held at the end of the game.
The expansion comes with four additional guild cards and one extra Wonder board - the Colosseum of Rome, which, appropriately enough, grants abilities related to the new leader cards.
7 Wonders: Cities (August 2012)
The Cities expansion introduces nine city cards (with a black background) to each of the Age card decks. The number of city cards that are shuffled into each age's deck is equal to the number of players. This means that each age now consists of seven play of cards.
The city cards can have quite an impact on gameplay, as many of them are more powerful versions of other cards; for example, the Age III 'Contingent' card provides five shields as opposed to the three provided by Age III red cards. The cards also introduce some new concepts, such as diplomacy, which allows a player to avoid military conflict for one Age, and monetary loss, which forces the player's opponents to pay coins to the bank, or lose victory points if they do not have sufficient coins.
The addition of city cards takes the total number of cards playable in each age to 56. This means that eight-player games - or team games with four teams of two - are possible. In the team game, partners are allowed to see each other's cards and discuss which ones to play, and the effect of diplomacy is modified.
The Cities expansion also contains three new guild cards, six leader cards and two Wonder boards: the Hagia Sophia of Byzantium and Al Khazneh of Petra. Many of these new additions have abilities specific to city cards or to the new concepts introduced.
7 Wonders: Wonder Pack (May 2013)
This expansion adds four Wonder boards: Abu Simbel, the Great Wall of China, Stonehenge and the Manneken Pis of Brussels (the makers' home town.) All four offer new abilities.
7 Wonders: Babel (December 2014)
Introducing the Tower of Babel, individual players can decide if they want to bring assistance to the emerging civilization by participating in the construction of its tower and surrounding monuments.
7 Wonders: Duel (October 2015)
A spin-off game in the same universe, only playable by two players.
7 Wonders: Duel—Pantheon (October 2016)
An expansion to 7 Wonders: Duel that adds new abilities to the game via a rotating pantheon of gods. It also adds two new wonders to the game.
Several fan expansions are available, all of which feature the same outstanding artwork as the original game. These can be downloaded for free at BoardGameGeek (https://boardgamegeek.com/geeksearch.php?action=search&objecttype=boardgame&q=7+wonders&B1=Go; free registration needed) and printed at either a print shop or a home printer.
Ruins introduces a new set of cards, which are played at the beginning of the game (before leaders and myth cards). In contrast to other cards in the game, every Ruin card has a negative effect on the player him/herself (e.g. a certain wonder stage cannot be built, every green card played gives negative victory points, chaining is not possible or prohibitively expensive, etc.). At the beginning of the game, a deck of 4 Ruin cards is built, of which every player must play 3. A ruin card only has effect on the player who plays it. The expansion also includes reconstruction tokens, which can be accessed by new leaders and wonder boards. These reconstruction tokens reverse the effect of ruin cards (e.g. negative victory points turn to positive victory points, etc.). This expansion should be particularly attractive to players who want to be challenged during the game and/or who want to have an even more asymmetric gaming experience.
Myths introduces mythology to the game. Before each age 3 myths cards featuring different gods and ancient heroes are drawn. One of these cards can then be played during the card drafting phase. Each god/hero must be pleased by a gift (coins, the presence of a certain resource in the city, victory points etc.) and grants a special condition (free black card, coins, a new leader, reshuffling of the player's decks, free chaining of cards, building a wonder stage, etc.). This expansion is very thematic and fits very well with the setting/age of the 7 Wonders base game; it should be very attractive to players who want to have even more degrees of playing freedom and interaction with other players.
Empires introduces Aggression (the opposite of diplomacy tokens, that is forced attack) to the game, and adds two game variants: one for 2 player games; the other for team games, in which sets of two players play together in an Empire, that is made up by two non-rivaling cities. The expansion also contains a market expansion, that allows all players direct access to certain resources or victory points (if conditions are met) - the best way to understand this is that you are trading with the bank, rather than your left or right player. Players who like to play military cards and want to have more options when trading will particularly like this expansion.
Sailors introduces sail boats to the game, which allow players to interact with players other than to their direct left and right. Includes a new set of (orange) cards that allow military conflict, trading, etc. with players all across the table. This expansion has no effect on games of 2 or 3 players, in which every player can interact with any other player anyway, but should be particularly attractive to large player groups who want to have more interaction with other gamers.
Lost Wonders and Lost Wonders 2
This one introduces ~35 new city boards, most of which are highly thematic and fit very well into the 7 Wonders base game. Several of these boards can only be played if the official expansions are available.
Introduces 12 new city boards, most of which are highly thematic and fit very well into the 7 Wonders base game. Several of these boards can only be played if the official expansions are available.
This expansion features 50 wonder boards, some of which are repetitive from 'Lost Wonders 1+2' and 'Game Wonders'. All boards are highly thematic and fit very well into the 7 Wonders base game