7 Wonders Architects (Game Review by Chris Wray)

  • Designer: Antoine Bauza
  • Publisher: Repos Productions 
  • Players: 2 – 7
  • Ages: 10 and up
  • Time: 25 Minutes
  • Times Played: 7

7 Wonders is one of my all-time favorite games, and Antoine Bauza is one of my all-time favorite designers. So I was eager to try 7 Wonders Architects, which was released in the past few days.  The game has a few hallmarks of its award winning predecessor, but is notably lighter.  In fact, it is so light that, at a convention I recently attended, it became a bit of a running joke that it was the children’s version of 7 Wonders.  The result is a game that I’ve enjoyed playing, but which will leave my collection shortly.  

During setup, players each receive an unconstructed wonder — there are 7 in the box, to accommodate 7 players — and a deck of cards. The deck goes faceup between you and the player to your left. It will be one of the three places you can draft from, with the other decks being a facedown one in the middle and a faceup one between you and the player to your right.

One your turn, you draft a card from one of these three options. The game will end when one player has built their wonder — which must be completed from the ground up — and the player with the most points wins.  Points come from cards, your wonder, and victory tokens, plus a couple of other places.  

There are five types of cards in the games: resources, gold (which is a wild resource), military cards, points cards, and science cards.  

  • You’re gathering sets of different or the same resources to complete your wonder.  The lower levels require a set of two, but the upper levels generally require a set of four.  There are five types of resources in the game, so gold comes in handy.  When you use resources, they get discarded. 
  • Military cards are your strength in battle, and a battle happens whenever a number (which depends on player count) of these with a particular symbol (which looks like a horn) are flipped. Strength is compared to your neighbors, and you get 3 points for each neighbor you beat.  
  • Point cards are just points at the end of the game, but some of them have a cat symbol, and when one of those cards is taken, that player gets the cat token.  Having it allows a player to glance at the top card of the center deck before deciding which card to draft.
  • Science cards have one of three different symbols. When a player gets two identical or three different symbols, they take one of three faceup tokens, or one from the stack.  The powers vary, including everything from giving you extra card draws when you take a particular type of card, to extra victory points for military victory tokens or cards showing the cat symbol. 

Each player’s wonder generally has a special power, which grants them an in-game advantage whenever they flip the pieces of their wonder containing it. For instance, one gives you a science token; another gives you both of the cards in the decks to your left and the right. The exception is the pyramid of Giza, which just gives extra points.  

7 Wonders Architects is short, rarely lasting the 25 minutes put on the box. And it can be taught in 5 minutes. Thematically, it resembles 7 Wonders, and fans of that game will intuitively grasp many of the symbols, which come from the base game. As a result of these similarities, I see why Asmodee’s subsidiaries have included it in the 7 Wonders line.  

But in the end, this is a bit of a letdown.  I’ve enjoyed playing this well enough. I’ve played 7 times, with each of the different wonders. And those around me have enjoyed it too.  But nobody is passionate about this game.  Candidly, I don’t see how somebody could be passionate about this game.  

7 Wonders struck a chord in the gaming community: it won the Kennerspiel des Jahres, plus the IGA and the DSP.  It was a groundbreaking game. 7 Wonders Duel did all of that again, even becoming more respected than its predecessors in some circles. But this feels like something that should have come before both of those designs. Mechanically, 7 Wonders Architects feels weirdly dated and, worse, uninspired.  

The production value is excellent — it comes with little trays for each wonder, plus well-produced pieces. But as BJ Novak once wrote, carrot cake has the best icing because carrot cake needs the best icing. 7 Wonders Architects has a great production value likely because it needs a great production value.  

In the end, I’ll trade this away.  It is overly streamlined: much of the fun in 7 Wonders (the drafting, the different strategies, the simultaneous turns, etc.) is gone.  It has been replaced by a game where you take what you can when you can get it, and where you often feel stuck by the cards to your left and your right.  

I prefer light games.  But this is too light for even me.  

Ratings from the Opinionated Gamers

  • I love it! 
  • I like it. Eric M.
  • Neutral. Chris Wray
  • Not for me…
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2 Responses to 7 Wonders Architects (Game Review by Chris Wray)

  1. gamingleet says:

    Having struggled through teaching 7 Wonders to non-gamers and after a delightful six player learning game this weekend at LobsterTrap, I like it (based on one play).

    The fact that you didn’t even mention the requirement to sound the horn when taking a shield card with horns on it suggests to me that you were not fully embracing the game for what it is. It’s a game that lives up to the promise of being a quick and fun five to seven player game play in a light social atmosphere. We made sure all around could hear the warnings of impending conflict. We properly criticized those who sound more like they were warning of shallows in the fog.

    I do agree that there is little to help a buyer distinguish complexity and it becomes even more of an issue when publishers tie new games into existing lines. This is a light game which happens to share art and theme with 7 Wonders. Players expecting an expansion/reimplementation of the original will be disappointed. Players who want a game of light strategy which plays quickly for large groups will enjoy the quick pace, blend of choice and chance, and quality production. I found it did encourage paying attention a bit to what other players did and promoted heads up social play.

  2. farmerlenny says:

    I’ve played this twice now, once with adults and children (ages 5 and 7), and once with just adults. I was pretty enthusiastic about this after my play with kids, and I left feeling pretty cold after playing with just adults. I think gamingleet gets this right: leaning into the horns, stealing the cat, flipping wonder tiles–these are the things my kids LOVED, and they really enjoyed hamming it up when they got to do these things. With just adults, it was okay, it worked, and the other two I played with enjoyed it, but I think this is better as a kids-and-adults game that won’t bore either party.

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