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Review: 7 Wonders (iPad)

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Give me that money, Berenice

It's been out for roughly six years, but in the past six months or so, 7 Wonders became my tabletop group's board game of choice -- either for warmups for heavier games or a cool down afterward ("dessert," as it's called). Our group has all the expansions, around 50 custom boards, and the two-player Duel edition. It has that catch-all Dominion presence.

Not all of that magic is translated into the official app, but this is still the same at its core.

7 Wonders (iPad) 
Developer: Repos Production
Publisher: Repos Production
Released: November 28, 2017
MSRP: $4.99

If you've never played 7 Wonders, you're basically picking cards, passing them left or right (depending on the round), and building an empire that will earn you the most victory points possible. You can win through any means necessary, including monetarily, through military might, scientific discoveries, structures, or any combination thereof. There are several civilizations to choose from (which are called Wonder boards) that slightly change up your strategy, but your job is to keep a constant eye on what everyone else is doing.

7 Wonders isn't just about playing to your strengths, it's about cleverly countering your neighboring opponents and keeping them down. If they start to accrue too much science, you might want to ensure that you aren't passing them a win by discarding a few science cards. Or likewise for military dominance, or perhaps you want to embargo a few resources and force them to come to you. The app does a great job of explaining why players might not be able to place/build a card at a certain time. Better yet, it automatically includes bonuses from certain cards, which is a godsend if you've ever forgotten you had a trading post and paid full price for a good in the tabletop edition.

The chief conceit of picking cards from a deck, passing them around, and placing them in front of you translates perfectly to an app, especially when it handles all of the organization for you and saves on physical space. There's a reason you're seeing more and more digital card conversions these days, especially after the success of Hearthstone.

It's a fascinating game that opens up the more you play it, and the iPad app makes it insanely easy to do ten, twenty, or more rounds with a lightning-fast pace against the competent AI (that sadly just has one setting). I like booting it up for a few minutes to skirmish with the computer, especially when you can jack the settings up to seven players (which gets a little crazy -- 7 Wonders is best suited for a lower player count). 

But that same extreme focus on swiftness hurts it a bit. Part of the joy of playing board games with people are the interactions. You're always going to give up some of that if you opt for a digital version of something, but the app lacks the proper teaching tools to really drill home why a certain move should be made. The turns are just too fast, and there's no way to toggle that option off.

There needs to be a way to really play out turns slowly if that's what people want, so you can keep up with what has been played to allow for better counterplay. It's really easy to get caught up in the app and make mistakes. In one game, I was sure I had the win with a large repertoire of science, but it turns out I had completely neglected my Wonder and had been bested by someone with Giza, a board full of victory points.

The app has been a long time coming, but it still needs a little bit of work. The card art is fine as it's descriptive and true to the real set, but the low-res, static background art gets old after a few games. There's also a lack of some great expansions -- Leaders and Cities are listed as "coming soon," though Babel (which comes with my favorite add-on, Projects), is not. There's no option for pass and play (not that it would be ideal), just solo versus AI or an online component. I'd also like to see the concept expanded to Duels with a shared iPad setup. There's more work to be done.

This digital rendition of 7 Wonders is almost a new game. It would be appreciated if we could get a slower mode that really provides a play-by-play of the wonders of revealing your cards at once. As a base though, Repos has a lot to work with, even if it's not going to be replacing the real thing.

[This review is based on a retail build of the game provided by the publisher.]

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7 Wonders reviewed by Chris Carter

7.5

GOOD

Solid and definitely has an audience. There could be some hard-to-ignore faults, but the experience is fun.
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Chris Carter
Chris CarterReviews Director, Co-EIC   gamer profile

Chris has been enjoying Destructoid avidly since 2008. He finally decided to take the next step, make an account, and start blogging in January of 2009. Now, he's staff! ------------------- T... more + disclosures


 


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