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Tabletop Game / 7 Wonders

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7 Wonders is a card drafting Eurogame 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.

In 2021, a more streamlined and family-friendly version titled 7 Wonders: Architects was released.

Releases in the main series:

  • 7 Wonders (2010)
  • 7 Wonders: Leaders (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) (Leaders, Cities and Armada also received updates)
  • 7 Wonders: Edifice (2023) (A reworked version of the Great Projects module in Babel)

Releases in the Duel spinoff series:

  • 7 Wonders Duel (October 2015)
  • 7 Wonders Duel: Pantheon (October 2016)
  • 7 Wonders Duel: Agora (January 2021)

Other releases:

  • 7 Wonders: Architects (2021)

Compare Sushi Go!, a simpler drafting game.

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, 7 card colours, 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.
  • Awesome, but Impractical:
    • Green. A good science build may regularly score the most points in a game because science points increase exponentially. However, green cards are not always easy to obtain (no pun intended) unless you start building a scientific basis very early in the game, and the more concurrency you have, the most likely it is that you'll fail to score enough to outweigh the cost.
    • Having a huge, scary army can net you a positive 18 points, which are further increased in minuses inflicted to your neighbours, and the fact that if you are making those points, they aren't. However, having a strong rival on the Red scene means you'll spend a lot of resources on armies for an uncertain result.
  • Back from the Dead: Halikarnassos has the special ability of letting you construct a building from the discard pile.
  • Boring, but Practical: Blue has no nifty effects beside granting points, but those points grow at a steady rate and are unconditionally awarded at the end of the game.
  • Bowdlerise: The Manneken Pis started as a promotional Wonder whose B side has a single, very expensive stage that gives you all sorts of stuff, including the right to get a well-chilled beer from whoever ends up winning. When it was re-released in the Wonder Pack, the beer reference was removed.
  • Color-Coded for Your Convenience: Resources are Brown (extracted) or Grey (manufactured), Buildings are Blue, Trade is Yellow, Military is Red, and Science is Green. Cities adds Black cards which refer to various "underhanded" tactics such as spies, a Black Market or a private militia.
  • Crippling Overspecialization: Since there is a hard limit to how many points a player can score with a particular colour, betting everything on one type of buildings is generally not a good idea. However, see Master of None below.
  • Digital Tabletop Game Adaptation: The game has a Board Game Arena implementation, as well as a paid, dedicated app for Android and iOS devices.
  • Drafting Mechanic:
    • At the start of each Age, you are dealt a hand of seven building cards. On each turn, you take a card and do one of three things with it: (1) paying its cost to add it to your city, (2) discarding it for coins, and (3) using to build a wonder step by paying the costs of the wonder step.
    • The Leaders Expansion Pack has players draft leaders at the start of the game. They get a hand of four leaders, choose one to keep and pass the rest.
  • Euro Game: A staple of the genre.
  • 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)
  • Literal Wild Card:
    • Both the original game and 7 Wonders Duel have resource symbols that can be used as any raw resource, and symbols that can be used as any refined resource. 7 Wonders also has brown cards that can provide one of two resources per turn.
    • The Scientists Guild and both sides of the Babylon wonder feature a symbol that can count as any one of the three scientific symbols at the end of the game. This means that you're free to choose whichever gives you the most points, which varies depending on which symbols you already have.
  • Master of None: Trying to score points in every domain is not recommended because it makes it harder to efficiently build the higher-scoring endgame buildings. This can be a problem if you get too greedy with Plato, who rewards you 7 VP for each set of 7 buildings of different colours.
  • Mechanically Unusual Fighter:
    • Rhodos and Gizah used to be this in the base game, having respectively 2 and 4 stages instead of the usual 3.
    • 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.
  • Painting the Medium: Science points take a little more math to calculate.
  • Rate-Limited Perpetual Resource: Once a resource card is acquired, it will provide the same amount of resources (one or two) at every turn. However, if these resources aren't used in the current turn, they don't carry over to the next turn, nor can they be sold or otherwise "stored".
  • Reduced Resource Cost:
    • Many buildings are "chained" — you can play a building without paying its resource cost if you have the previous building in the chain.
    • You can buy extra resources from opponents at 2 coins apiece. Some effects reduce the cost to 1 coin.
  • Rule of Seven: 7 is an Arc Number in the game.
  • Set Bonus: The value of each scientific symbol increases if you gather several copies of one symbol (1/4/9/16/... points for 1/2/3/4... copies) or sets of three different ones (7 points per set).
  • Skill Gate Characters: Typically, the Day sides of Wonders are better for new players — they have weaker benefits than the Night sides, but are easier to build. Experienced players tend to prefer Night sides.
  • Symmetric Effect: In the Tower of Babel expansion, you can build Babel tiles that change the rules for all players until they're covered by another Babel tile.
  • Uniqueness Rule: The game doesn't allow you to build two buildings of the same name. This keeps players from monopolizing resources too much and keeps science balanced (as you'd otherwise be able to get absurd Set Bonuses).
  • Vanilla Unit:
    • Each Wonder has a unique ability, with the exception of Giza, which just gives you Victory Points. Most other wonders are virtual vanillas whose stages either just provide points or have a one-shot effect that triggers immediately upon being played.
    • The Leaders Expansion Pack features some Leaders with no effect other than giving a fixed number of Victory Points.
    • Most buildings have some kind of effect, but the blue ones only give you a flat sum of points (and may chain into another blue building).
  • Worthless Currency: Downplayed. Having a comfortable stack of cash is useful during the game in case you lack a resource or must pay to build. However, they are much better spent than kept, because at the end of the game they are worth very little in terms of victory points.

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.
  • Back from the Dead: The Mausoleum has the special ability of letting you construct a building from the discard pile. In Pantheon, Hades has the same ability.
  • Back-to-Back Poster: The box represents the game with two characters back-to-back, facing their respective civilizations, as though they were about to duel. Similarly, the Expansion Pack boxes show two recruitable characters back-to-back (Minerva and Anubis for Pantheon; a Senator and a Conspirator for Agora).
  • Balance Buff: Agora buffs blue and red cards, which makes players more willing to draft these colors in age 1, where they were often treated as discard fodder before.
    • Blue cards got a direct buff: in addition to their old effect of giving you points at the end of the game, they also let you get more Senate Actions whenever you draft a Senator. If you let your opponent grab too many of these, they will not only be able to take Senate chambers quickly, but you will struggle to fight back because your Senators have a weaker effect.
    • Red cards got an indirect buff, as the original coin loss military tokens are replaced with ones that manipulate the Senate. This can be dangerous if you're going for Political Supremacy.
  • 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.
  • Digital Tabletop Game Adaptation: The game has a Board Game Arena implementation, as well as a paid, dedicated app for Android and iOS devices.
  • Drafting Mechanic: The game starts with two open drafts of wonders. Then the main game consists of players taking turns drafting building cards from the structures in each Age. Some of the cards are hidden until all cards covering them have been taken.
  • 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).
  • Gameplay and Story Segregation: The Progress Tokens in the base game represent research leading to progress, such as cultural development and increases in efficiency. Pantheon adds the "Mysticism" token, whose scientic value is questionable, and Agora completely throws out the "scientific progress" theme and makes "Corruption" and "Organized Crime" into Progress Tokens.
  • Highly Specific Counterplay: The coins on Astarte's card can No-Sell coin loss effects. If you play with the Agora expansion too, the only such effects in the game come from The Appian Way and a couple of Conspiracies. (In the base game, the military track can lead to coin losses, which is a potential threat in every game.)
  • 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.
  • Power Copying:
    • In Pantheon, placing the Nisaba token on an opponent's green card lets you benefit from its scientific symbol too.
    • Agora has a decree that lets you benefit from your opponent's chaining symbols.
  • Reduced Resource Cost:
    • Many buildings are "chained" — you can play a building without paying its resource cost if you have the previous building in the chain.
    • Extra resources are bought from the bank and cost 2 + (how many of it your opponent has) each. However, there are yellow buildings that set their cost to a flat 1 coin. The Expansion Pack Agora also has two decrees that decrease the cost of extra resources by 1 (but does not stack with the yellow buildings) — one affects raw resources and one affects refined resources.
    • Duel's Expansion Pack Agora has a series of decrees that take card of one color and decrease their costs by any 1 symbol. This includes coin costs.
    • The Progress Tokens "Masonry" and "Architecture" gives you a 2-resource discount on respectively blue buildings and Wonders. The "Corruption" Progress Token in Agora lets you play politicians for free.
  • Rule of Seven: 7 is an Arc Number in the game.
  • Set Bonus:
    • Scientific symbols are useless on their own, but getting a matching pair lets you take a Progress Token, and collecting 6 different ones is an Instant-Win Condition.
    • In Agora, each pair of 2 blue buildings gives you an additional Senate action whenever you take a Senator. This maxes out at 3 actions.
  • 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.
  • Vanilla Unit:
    • Each Wonder has a unique effect upon being built, with the exception of the Pyramids, which just give you nine Victory Points.
    • Blue buildings do nothing but give you points and possibly chaining into another blue building. Defied by the Agora Expansion Pack, which gives these buildings the additional effect of boosting the Senators you recruit.
  • 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.
  • Worthless Currency: Downplayed. Having a comfortable stack of cash is useful during the game in case you lack a resource or must pay to build. However, they are much better spent than kept, because at the end of the game they are worth very little in terms of victory points.

7 Wonders Architects provides examples of:

  • Junior Variant: It's a simplified, more family-friendly variant of 7 Wonders. Changes include removing the three-age structure in favour of playing a single round, making every building free to take (meaning resources are only spent on Wonder stages), making the non-wildcard resources largely interchangeablenote  and simplifying decisions by only giving you 2-3 simple cards to choose from during your turn. Another clear sign that this was made for kids is that the manual tells you to make a horn sound when you take a red card with 1 or 2 horn icons on it and have to flip over that number of conflict tokens.
  • Literal Wildcard: While the resources are already largely interchangeable, with Wonder stage costs always asking for something like "2 identical resources" or "3 different ones" instead of specific ones, coins stand out because they can substitute for any missing resource needed to construct a stage of your wonder (so 2 Wood and a Coin meet a "3 identical" requirement). Since constructing a wonder stage is mandatory if you have the resources for it, you can't hoard coins for later, harder-to-build stages.