Over the past year or so, I’ve been involved in a monthly table top game night event that a good friend of mine has organized. We get about a dozen or so guys together on a Friday night, each bringing a few games, and play into the wee hours.
While being involved in these events, I’ve had tons of great experiences learning new games, teaching a few of my favorites and enjoying the hobby with fellow gamers. Quite a few times, I’ve been thinking how great it would be to get to share even a little piece of the fun with the Everyday Gamers community, so here I am with the first entry in a series I’m going to call “At the Table”. I think at first I’ll try to focus on a single game, covering some thoughts on the game itself and maybe even sharing some of my experiences playing it. I’m not going to consider these articles reviews, since in some cases I may have only played the game a few times. In the end, table top gaming is more about the experience of enjoying the company of friends over a fun game anyway. So welcome to the first of what will hopefully be many entries of table top gaming goodness.
During the past months, I’ve played quite a few new games, many of which were enjoyable enough to hit the table on at least a semi-regular basis. However, none have seemed to get consistent play like the empire building game 7 Wonders,which is why I’m going to start this series here. One of the unique factors that makes the game so great is its ability to accommodate a large number of players (up to seven) and still play in a reasonable amount of time. In fact, I’d even go so far as to say it’s best with near the max number of players. A game can easily be finished in under an hour or even less if everyone knows the game mechanics well. From my experience, this has made 7 wonders perfect for keeping a larger group together at a more heavily attended game night. It also works great at those couples gatherings where more than four may want to take part in the fun.
7 Wonders is an empire building game where each player plays as a city and has the ability to build one of the seven wonders of the ancient world. Over the course of the game, structures are built, scientific discoveries are made and military victories are won. All of this is done by playing cards of various types through three consecutive ages. Each age offers cards of increasing value which rely heavily on cards played in an earlier age.
The main mechanic in 7 Wonders is extremely similar to a booster draft in Magic the Gathering. For those who are not familiar with Magic, a booster draft works like this: cards are all dealt evenly to all players. Each player then chooses a card from his hand and passes the rest of the hand to the player next to him. After the first card is played, the player then chooses his next card from the new hand that was passed to him. This is repeated until all the cards have been played. The draft is done three times each with a new deck for the consecutive ages. When all the cards are played the game is scored and the one with the most victory points is declared the winner.
What makes the game so interesting is the way the player interacts with the two players directly adjacent to him. Some of the most significant cards played during the first two ages represent any of a number of different resources such as wood, bricks, ore etc. Since all other cards require certain resources to already have been played, it is inevitable that at times you will not have the correct combination of resources needed. In this case, you may buy the resources from either of your neighbors if they already have that particular resource in their empire. In addition to this, there are cards that represent military power, and at the end of every age, neighboring cities battle by counting the number of shields in play. This can create any number of different strategies, since at times it may be wise to play a card simply for the purpose of preventing your neighbor from having the ability to play it when the hand is passed to them.
At this point, I’ve played the game at least a dozen or so times, and I can’t say that I’ve developed even close to a solid strategy. The game definitely emphasizes the importance for strategic planning to be successful. While I’ve seen newcomers win over experienced players a few times, a solid understanding of the game’s mechanics and the ability to develop a strategy will increase your chance of success. Some of the best table top games rely on a finely tuned balance of strategy and luck, allowing newcomers to enjoy feeling like they have a chance even against a seasoned player who understands the game and can employ deeper strategies. In this department, 7 Wonders is near perfect.
I’m definitely looking forward to playing a lot more of this game in the future. Even after at least a dozen plays, I still feel like I’m learning something through my successes and mistakes. If there is a downside to 7 Wonders, I would say it’s that it absolutely requires at least three players and ideally needs four to five to really make it interesting. It’s not a game that you can play with your significant other or a good friend, but if you do have regular gatherings of more gamers, there are few games on the market that offer what 7 Wonders does. I can’t recommend it highly enough.
I hope you found this enjoyable or at least interesting. If you have feedback, questions, or a game or topic you would be interested in me covering in a future installment, just hit me up on Twitter @RdwngsFn81. I’d love to hear what you think.