Friday, April 29, 2011

board game recommendation

Wife and I just got home from our friend Monte's place after playing some board games.
We played two - 7 Wonders and Agricola. Both are fantastic, but I'd like to talk about 7 Wonders.
The premise is simple - you play an ancient civilization through three ages. There's multiple ways to gain points - military dominance of your neighbors, civilian buildings, scientific buildings, mercantile, guilds . . . it's pretty wild.
Ignore all of that for a minute. The fun begins in the actual gameplay. If you're the rare bird that's ever played limited magic, you'll recognize the format immediately. It's a draft - you look at your hand, pick one card, and pass the rest to your neighbor. You continue doing this until the last two, and you discard one and take one.
So each turn you take a card and play it in front of you - it becomes a part of your civilization permanently. The cards all have some value, and they tend to be additive - getting lots of the same thing can pay off a lot. The experience is exciting and frustrating - early parts of the round stick you with hard choices on what to take, since you almost always want two or three of the cards.
Adding spice to the stew is your civilization's wonder. Each one grants different powers. Free buildings, lots of gold, more military strength, free resources . . . flashy stuff.
But the cost is the card you pick in the draft gets played face down marking the wonder, and its face-up abilities don't apply.
Wonders are also worth victory points - the average is 10, the high is 20.
After three rounds, you add up your points and it's over.
The entire game lasts about 20 - 30 minutes once you're acquainted, and about an hour when you're not. It's a lot of fun.
And it plays up to seven, which is a great bonus. Most games of this caliber cap out at five players.
It's a fun game that's easy to learn, and has an evolving metagame (your choices in one game will influence your opponents' play in future games) making thinking on your feet a valuable skill.
Adaptability, realistic planning, and awareness of what your neighbors are doing are the keys to winning the game - and boy is it fun.
Tonight I thought I was kicking ass - dominated militarily, had a little technology and some civic structures - I thought I was doing well. Then I count up my wife's points. In a game where our average winning score is in the low 50s, she hit 63 points. Crushed everyone.
Should have known, too. She's the living incarnation of the phrase, "It's quiet. . . too quiet."

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