In 7 Wonders, you will build up your empire through the acquisition of various resources and technologies. You can also build up your military strength to dominate your neighbours or play it passively and search for another way to claim the victory. I have played 7 Wonders a lot in the past, so here is a summary of some tips that I tend to have in the forefront of my mind when playing.
Tip 1: Look At What Board You And The Other Players Have
In 7 Wonders, your civilisation will dictate your game, whether it is the starting resources and cost to build your wonder or the power of your wonder. This is because you may find some wonders feel easier to play alongside multiple strategies than others (e.g., The Lighthouse of Alexandria is very diverse, whereas the Hanging Gardens of Babylon is very science-focused). When starting out, this means certain civilisations will allow you to pivot your strategies easier than others.
By looking at the civilisations of the other players and applying the same thought process you will be able to somewhat deduce the resources they’ll want in the future. This means that you will possibly starve them of some of the resources they want, hopefully forcing them to buy off you in the future.
Tip 2: Know The Number Of Resource Cards In The First Phase
I have found that it is easiest to strategize if you know roughly how many of each resource card there are in the first phase of the game (note that there will be different amounts for different numbers of players). This is because the first phase is where you will build the base of your engine so knowing roughly how many of the different types you’ll need is an advantage.
Tip 3: Know The Resource Cost Of Some Cards You Aim To Get In The Game
It is also helpful to set yourself goals for the different stages of 7 wonders in terms of cards. I have found that there are certain cards which are helpful, some of which are listed below:
- Forum - 2 clay, gives one of any manufactured good (grey) – Age II
- Caravansery – 2 wood, gives one of any raw material (brown) – Age II
- Pantheon – 2 clay, 1 ore, 1 of each manufactured good – Age III
- Palace – One of each raw resource and manufactured good – Age III
Tip 4: Make Use Of Upgrade Paths
You will notice that each card may have specific cards that lead “into” and “out” of them. These are very useful to pay attention to, as they will allow you to build the structures, for example the ones noted above, without requiring the resources. These are mostly found in the science and culture cards and can help you greatly with streamlining the resources you are planning on acquiring in the first two phases of the game. This can, in turn, give you more time to invest in cards, such as military ones.
Tip 5: Military
Military is a surprisingly large section of victory points in 7 wonders and can easily change the outcome of a game, with a range of -6 (lost to both neighbours in all 3 rounds) to 18 (beat both neighbours in all 3 rounds). It is also worth noting that the increasing victory points in subsequent phases, alongside the increasing military points on cards, makes the later rounds much larger rewards while not decreasing the drawback from losing. This means that it is a viable strategy to leave military alone for the first age (possibly 2 depending on your opponents), as the net victory point gain of 2 may not be worth spending your limited cards on. Conversely, it is a good idea to track where the military cards are in the player’s hands and their resource costs to determine whether other players could suddenly beat you to the military victory.
Tip 6: Guilds
Guilds can be an incredibly powerful method of gaining victory points, however, don’t force yourself to get guilds in a game as they are wildcards in terms of victory points so there may be some games where it is most efficient to not go for any guilds. It is also worth it to look for any possible guilds that the other players may be hoping to get, as you may be able to use the card to do an action such as building a stage of your wonder. I have found that it is not a good strategy to plan your late game around acquiring specific guilds, as there are only N+3 guilds in the game (where N is the player count) and so especially in games with fewer players, there is quite a low chance of your target guilds being in the pack. When coupled with the strategies mentioned earlier, it makes it an even lower chance that you will get your preferred guild, so I tend to treat guilds as a bonus rather than an aim.
Tip 7: Money
Money is a very important aspect of 7 Wonders, as it will allow you to outbuild and so outscore your opponents, if they are restricted to purely using their resources. You can use cards such as the East and West Trading Posts (Age I) to buy resources cheaply, so it is a viable strategy to concentrate more on money and purchasing resources from other players who may have concentrated on producing resources. This would allow you to spend more time on acquiring cards such as science and culture. A very useful rule to remember in this strategy is the discarding of a card for 3 coins, as this could equate to 3 resources. However, this strategy runs into some problems when playing with larger numbers of players (it works best with 3 players as all the players are your neighbours) as the resources are distributed more evenly so there is a high chance that you won’t be able to acquire all your required resources from the adjacent players.
I have found that it is very helpful to reserve at least 2 money for the start of the second age so you are able to be slightly flexible with your initial choice of cards.
Whether or not you play with the strategy mentioned above, it is helpful to know which cards will help you generate money in which age, as listed below:
Age I: Tavern (5 money)
Age II: Vineyard (1/raw material of you and neighbours), Bazaar (1/manufactured good of you and neighbours)
Age III: Haven (1/raw material you have), Lighthouse (1/commerce building you have), Chamber of Commerce (2/manufactured good you have), Arena (3/stage of wonder you ave built)
Tip 8: Card Tracking
This can be quite hard to do perfectly but it still works when done roughly. It involves remembering how many of each card type are in each of the hands you get/start with. This can help hugely with strategizing as you will be able to see “stacked” hands (lots of one colour) and so it may be possibly to bottleneck another player with a hand of cards they don’t want or can’t play. You could potentially take this one step further and remember the resource distributions of the cards, helping you recognise which cards other players can’t play (taking their money into account), and so limit their options further (note that this works best with a small number of players). This tactic is also useful when thinking about which cards you are planning to play from your hand, as you may know that a military card will make it round to you without having to rush to get it.
In conclusion, 7 Wonders is a game which, while simple on the surface, can become somewhat complex if you are looking to optimise your gameplay. That said, it is also a quick, fun game to play with others even if you are just introducing them to the world of board games.