…are the Great Pyramids, the Hanging Gardens, the Temple of Artemis, the statue of Zeus, the Mausoleum, Pharos Lighthouse, Colossus of Rhodes! { clap clap } The 7 wonders of the ancient world…”

If you’re doing Cycle 1 with Classical Conversations, you’ve probably heard this song. If not, please look it up because it’s catchy and fun to sing!

The reason I bring it up is because my husband informed me just prior to Christmas that the one thing he really really wanted was the board game, 7 Wonders. I’d heard him mention it on occasion before, but he hadn’t purchased it and so I was happy to oblige. I also bought one of the add-ons for it (“Cities”) and although we’ve used it a bit, the standard, stand-alone game is plenty fun without it. This is most definitely our new favorite family game!

7 Wonders board game

Typical setup for 7 Wonders: each player has a small playing board (one of the Wonders) and then plays cards on each turn which are displayed above their board.

To play, each person chooses (or is dealt) one of the playing boards, each of which represents one of the 7 Wonders of the Ancient World. Yes, up to 7 people can play this game! We have lots and lots of European board games and I can tell you that that’s pretty rare. So far, we’ve played with 3, 4, and 5 and each time has been just as fun.

If you’re familiar with Settlers of Catan or Dominion, you will probably recognize some familiar mechanics. The cards you choose to play can increase the resources you generate each turn, increase your wealth or military power, give you victory points, or help you “build” your Wonder. The most interesting thing to me is the way the game is played: at the beginning of each age (there are 3), each player is dealt a certain number of cards, from which they choose one to play. After each player has played the card they choose, they then hand their cards over to their neighbor and proceed to play a card from the new hand. After that card is played, the cards are handed around again, and on it goes until all but 1 of the cards in your hand have been played, which you discard. At the end of the round, you determine which players have the most military might (for which they are rewarded with victory points) and then you move to the next age. At the very end of the game, you total up the points earned in various categories and the one with the most points wins.

I was completely confused the first time I played the game and had no real strategy because I didn’t understand at all what I was supposed to be doing. I randomly played various cards and hoped for the best. But as the game progressed and I saw the repercussions and benefits of certain cards, things immediately clicked into place. Ditto for my 7 year old who started out very enthusiastically but quickly became lost and therefore discouraged and extremely whiny. I encouraged him to stick it out and he ended up coming in 2nd on the first game we played. When we played again just a few hours later, he won!

Some people may dislike the fact that it’s difficult to tell who’s ahead at any given time. I actually kind of like it because it takes my mind off of being so competitive during the game. The scoring can be kind of time-consuming at the end, but there’s an app you can download that will do a lot of the heavy lifting for you (iPhone and Android).

The game doesn’t explicitly teach you anything about the 7 wonders, although each player’s board features the wonder’s Greek name so it’s fun to figure out what is what. The artwork is gorgeous and it prompted us to look up a few of the wonders to see how the game art compared to other artists’ renderings. Unlike several of our games, this one plays fairly quickly: We were able to finish an entire game in a little more than 30 minutes, which gives it another big star for me. And unlike some games that have complicated setups, this one requires little more than going through each deck of cards and removing extras depending on how many people are playing. And then fighting over who gets which board. 🙂

As I mentioned earlier, there are a couple of add-ons to the game that provide additional cities and leaders. We haven’t played with the leaders yet so I don’t know what that adds to the game. I just know that after my 2nd game, I was hooked! The variety of the game boards (each of which forces you to adopt a different strategy to win) and the varied choices of cards to play make this a super fun game for all ages. We even convinced my Dad, who doesn’t like playing anything but canasta, to play and I think even he enjoyed it. He should have—he won!

 

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