7 Wonders is a board game that our family has been playing for a year or so. It’s a card draft game, each turn, each player “builds” a card from their hand, and passes the remainder of their hand to one of their neighbours. Each card directly or indirectly provides victory points or resources for purchasing future cards.
The game has several properties that make it compelling. First, everyone acts simultaneously, so, unlike most board games, little time is spent sitting around waiting for someone else take their turn. Second, while players can influence the outcomes of other players, particularly their neighbours, often the fact that you’re sabotaging them is hidden. Thus, the game enables the joy of messing around with people without spawning bitterness and resentment from the victim.
Third, while there is a significant amount of randomness — which helps keep the game fresh — its impact on the outcome is unclear. I suspect that, among experienced players, random factors are the main determinant of the winner. But after playing the game probably thirty times, I’m still not certain that’s true. There are a few clear-cut decisions–I suspect flexibility is almost always good–but most decisions are unclear, partly because the outcome depends on both random factors and the strategies of the other players.
Finally, the other key property of the game is that it’s fast. So, if you mess up early, waiting for your doom doesn’t seem interminable, and you’ll be able to try again in a new game after a few minutes.
The only downside of the game is that the rules seem intimidating at first, but I’ve found that after a couple play throughs, everyone understands it.
Overall, I’d highly recommend 7 Wonders. It’s certainly on par with the other great recently-developed games like Settlers of Catan, Dominion, and Ticket To Ride.