I've previously discussed the excellent board game 7 Wonders, and my thoughts on the game's strategy. As part of that post, I asserted that the various Wonder boards, while they do make an impact on the game, are usually not the determining factor in who wins or loses. That said, in any game with variable player powers, there are bound to be inequalities, and a tier listing is inevitable. Thus, in this post I present my take on the different Wonder boards, discussing each side individually, and create a general tier listing out of all of them. My list includes all the boards released up to this point including the base set, Leaders and Cities expansions, the official Wonder Pack, and the promotional Catan wonder. I do not rate the promo version of Mannekin Pis, since the version contained in the Wonder Pack is a very similar, rebalanced version.
7 Wonders is a wonderful game, a civilization builder set in ancient times powered by a drafting mechanic that's elegant but extremely deep. Best of all, it plays quickly with anywhere from three to a whopping seven players, thanks to the powers of simultaneous play. The expansions, Leaders and Cities, and the Wonder Pack mini-expansion, add more variety while not changing the game much — something that sits well with me since it keeps the game fresh but keeps the burden on new players relatively low. It also means that the expansions haven't (thus far) revolutionized the game strategy, which is nice for experienced players and strategy bloggers (ha!). Hence, it's something I've played plenty, and I'm excited to discuss my strategies for the game and thoughts on how to play well. For clarity's sake: I will not be addressing the 2-player variant, nor the team variant introduced by the Cities expansion, since I have not played enough of either.
I play a lot of board games, especially Eurogames, and one thing that grinds my gears (no, not Tzolk'in gears) is that too many people don't know how to make effective decisions for playing to win. That's why I'm starting this series on how to play board games (and card games) well. In doing so, I hope to pin down and share some of the patterns that help me decide what to do. There's always the possibility that this will just lead to more analysis paralysis as people consider every move thoroughly, but that's a risk I'm willing to take.
For the first installment, I'm going to cover basic principles and ideas. Not all of these will apply to every game, but I'll try to strike a balance where they're specific enough to use in some games, but not limited to a single game.