7 Wonders is a card drafting game created by Antoine Bauza. You play as the leader of an ancient civilization, and your goal is to make it the most successful one. To help you with this, you receive a random Wonder Board representing one of the original Seven Wonders of the World (at least if you're playing the base game). It has two sides — typically one of them is easier to build, while the other has stronger and more interesting effects.
The game is played over three ages: Ages I, II, and III. Each age uses its own decks of cards that are drafted: each player is dealt 7 random cards, picks one and passes the rest to the next player. This process is repeated until each player is left with only one card, at which point the remaining cards are discarded.
The cards represent structures, and you must pay their construction costs to build them. Missing resources can be bought from your direct neighbors. You can also discard the card for coins or use it to build one stage of your Wonder. The buildings have various effects, such as giving you resources, giving you coins, giving you points, increasing your military strength, or giving you scientific symbols that are scored in a unique way.
7 Wonders was originally released in 2010, and has received several Expansion Packs. A rebalanced Second Edition was released in 2020. The game is highly regarded, being one of the highest rated games on BoardGameGeek, having won more than 30 gaming awards, and being cited by leading designers as one of the most influential board games of its decade.
In 2015, 7 Wonders received a two-player spinoff titled 7 Wonders: Duel. The players draft from an overlapping pyramid of cards, and Science and Military have been turned into Instant-Win Conditions. Additionally, each player gets 4 Wonders, but in a game, only 7 of them can be built. This game has received two Expansion Packs.
Releases in the main series:
- 7 Wonders (2011)
- 7 Wonders: Cities (August 2012)
- 7 Wonders: Wonder Pack (May 2013)
- 7 Wonders: Babel (December 2014)
- 7 Wonders: Leaders Anniversary Pack (2017)
- 7 Wonders: Cities Anniversary Pack (2017)
- 7 Wonders: Armada (October 2018)
- 7 Wonders Second Edition (2020)
Releases in the Duel spinoff series:
- 7 Wonders Duel (October 2015)
- 7 Wonders Duel: Pantheon (October 2016)
- 7 Wonders Duel: Agora (January 2021)
7 Wonders and its expansions provide examples of the following:
- Arc Number: The number 7 shows up a lot. The game supports up to 7 players representing leaders of the "great 7 cities of the ancient world", the Wonder boards depict the original Seven Wonders of the World, there are 7 types of resources, each player is dealt 7 cards at the beginning of each Age, and each set of 3 different scientific symbols is worth 7 points. However, some Expansion Packs have weakened the 7 theme by doing things like adding support for an 8th player or adding more Wonders.
- Boring, but Practical: Typically, the A sides of Wonders lean towards this — they have less interesting benefits than the B sides, but are easier to build.
- Expansion Pack:
- Leaders (which adds leaders to the game)
- Cities (which adds a new card type, support for an 8th player and team rules, and a few other things)
- Wonder Pack (which just adds four new Wonders)
- Babel (essentially two expansions one based around building the Tower of Babel, and one based around building great structures)
- Armada (which brings naval combat and exploration to the game)
- Mechanically Unusual Fighter:
- The Manneken Pis is the most gimmicky Wonder. Its A side has no effects on its own, instead copying effects from your neighbours' Wonders. Its B side stands out by only having one stage, which costs one of each resource and gives you 7 coins, 7 points and a shield.
- The Great Wall has the unique property that its stages can be built in any order.
- Rule of Seven: 7 is an Arc Number in the game.
7 Wonders Duel and its expansions provide examples of the following:
- Adam Smith Hates Your Guts:
- If you lack any resources you need for a building, you can purchase the missing ones from the bank. The cost of each missing resource increases as your opponent collects brown and grey cards that produce the resource you're missing.
- In Agora, each politician you recruit costs one coin more than the previous one.
- Arc Number: While not as prevalent as in the original game, the number 7 still likes to show up. Each player starts with 7 coins, the most valuable civic buildings as well as one of the Progress Tokens are worth 7 Victory Points, there are 7 scientific symbols, and only 7 Wonders can be built.
- Boring, but Practical: Downplayed. Some effects do nothing but give you Victory Points when most of the other game pieces of that type have cooler effects like giving Extra Turns or destroying your opponent's resources. This is one of the least situational effects in the game, as they're beneficial unless you're going all-in on an Instant-Win Condition or scrambling to prevent your opponent from reaching one. However, the power level of the VP-granting effects is not that high, and you're often better off picking something else.
- Comeback Mechanic: Downplayed. The Progress Tokens "Architecture" and "Masonry" give you a resource discount on, respectively, your future Wonders and your future civic buildings. These abilities make the biggest difference if you're behind on resources.
- The Conspiracy: Agora features Conspiracies that can help you and/or screw over your opponent. They are typically obtained by recruiting Conspirators, which lets you draw two Conspiracies and keep one. There's also the "Organized Crime" Progress Token, which lets you keep both of the Conspiracies you draw.
- Corrupt Politician: Agora features the Progress Token "Corruption", which lets you recruit politicians for free.
- Expansion Pack:
- Pantheon, which adds gods who can help you or hinder your opponent.
- Agora, which adds a Senate mechanic.
- Extra Turn: Some of the Wonders make you take an extra turn when you build them. There's also the Theology Progress Token, which gives all of your unbuilt Wonders this ability (though the ones that inherently have it don't gain another instance of it).
- Instant-Win Condition: The game normally ends when the players complete all 3 Ages, and the winner is decided by the total number of Victory Points accumulated in multiple ways. However, two win conditions instantly end the game: Military Supremacy (the Conflict Token reaches the opponent's capital, which means you've conquered it) and Scientific Supremacy (collecting 6 of the 7 scientific symbols). The Agora expansion adds another instant-win condition with the Senate take control of the majority its chambers, and you win. Note that partial credit is awarded and progressing all three yields immediate benefits, so it's not all-or-nothing.
- Morton's Fork:
- The base game always forces you to remove a card from the structure when it's your turn. So if it's your turn, you can't build an Extra Turn Wonder, and taking the only available card will let your opponent access something they really want (and you really don't want them to have), they will usually get access to the card no matter what you do. why "usually"?
- A lack of Extra Turns can also hurt you if you have two available cards with similar effects that you want to deny your opponent. No matter which card you buy/discard/use to build a Wonder, your opponent gets the desired effect from the other one.
- No-Sell: In the Pantheon expansion, the coins on Astarte's card are immune to coin loss effects.
- Rule of Seven: 7 is an Arc Number in the game.
- Three Approach System: There are three ways to win the game: having the most Victory Points once all three Ages are over, Military Supremacy and Scientific Supremacy. The latter two are Instant-Win Conditions. The Agora expansion adds a fourth win condition, however.
- Unstable Equilibrium: Downplayed. The Progress Token "Economy" gives you the money spent by your opponent when they buy missing resources. This gets more powerful the farther you are ahead on resources, which already gives you an advantage.
- Violation of Common Sense: In the Pantheon expansion, Anubis has the ability to destroy a Wonder belonging to either player. You play as a leader who wants to make their city as successful as possible, and building Wonders is an important part of the game, so you might assume that you should destroy one of your opponent's. However, since almost all of the Wonders have useful effects that trigger when they're built, it's often more beneficial to destroy one of your own Wonders to rebuild it and get its effect again. Anubis's role as the god of mummification, embalming and the afterlife suggests that this is the intended use.