Review – 7 Wonders: Edifice
|Repos Production (Asmodee North America)
It seems that I occasionally have prophetic powers when it comes to board games. I still have a screenshot of a Facebook post suggesting that Fantasy Flight should remake Mission: Red Planet with miniatures, five years before they did it. Likewise, 9 years ago, I reviewed 7 Wonders: Babel and suggested that I’d really like to see the Great Projects module published on its own with some revision. I spoke, and they listened (maybe)! Now we have 7 Wonders: Edifice, which is just that. But is this module as good as I remember? Let’s take a look!
The core concept of Edifice is relatively basic, compard to the other expansions. Each age has a (large) Project card associated with it, showing a benefit and a reward, together with “participation pawns” (but not enough for each player!). If all the pawns are taken, those who took them receive a permanent benefit. If not all are taken and the Project fails to be completed, then everyone without a pawn takes a penalty. You can only participate once per age, and only when you complete a section of your wonder. The cost is always in coins.
First, let me talk about the many improvements for this edition. First, as part of Babel, this expansion had far too many little tokens, including a third type of negative points after military loss and debt. They listened to me there, as well: the tokens you get for not being able to complete a punishment are now truly debt tokens, like those found in Cities. Three cheers for less confusion! The most brilliant change is that the participation pawns are a different color for each age, meaning that the rewards can just be listed on the back of the Project cards without needing various reward tokens for each player. This also opens up some design space for the new Wonder boards. The expansion is full of really smart changes all around.
However, there are some things that bother me, both old and new. First, I just don’t like to have stuff destroyed in 7 Wonders, because it’s more fun to have stuff built. The rewards are strong enough, and so are the punishments, that it feels like you really need to participate every age, and money is rarely scarce, so it feels like the decisions are somewhat automatic. It may just be that I need to play more at larger player counts, when the you run a higher risk of running out of participation pawns if you make the typical move and build your Wonder stage on the last turn of the age. But it also creates some balance issues around the Wonders, some of which only have two Wonder stages, and some of which have four, creating inherent (dis)advantages. I also think the back side of the Ur wonder is too risky to be ever worth it; if you get a second participation pawn but the project isn’t finished (which is mosrtly out of your control), the second pawn accomplishes nothing. Again, maybe it’s better at higher player counts where the fewer pawns-per-player means the Projects are much more likely to be finished.
So yes, I have some complaints, but the expansion is still fun. It feels good to get a permanent bonus when the project is finished, and perhaps most importantly, it’s not overwhelming. I rarely include Armada with other expansions just because it has so much going on, but I think that Edifice can join Leaders and Cities in a game of expert players without feeling like anyone’s brain is melting, and all of the coin interactions with the three expansions would make for some interesting decisions. I also think the components are great, particularly the inclusion of a Wonder board that can be used with or without Edifice. Everyone I played with wanted to use it again, and is there really a better recommend than that?
The Bottom Line
7 Wonders: Edifice is a great reimagining of the better half of 7 Wonders: Babel.