7 Wonders is an addictive and entertaining game that millions of people enjoy. It’s simple, strategic, and has the ancient-world-economy vibe that I totally adore. The combination of those three and the nearly limitless supply of expansions and side games (have you checked out 7 Wonders Mystery yet?) can hook you into the theme for a very long time.
If you have seen my previous articles, you might remember that 7 Wonders Duel was one of the very first board games we got when I got into board gaming. It’s been a marvellous game that opened the world of modern board games and proved to me that board games can easily be more entertaining than video games.
However, it’s not a crime to try out new games that are similar to your favourite, and today, I’ll share a few similar (in a way) games that I played and enjoyed as much (or even more!) than 7 Wonders. I will pay attention to game mechanics, the complexity of the game as well as the theme. Many of the games are on the same level of complexity as 7 Wonders, yet could serve as an introduction (or gateway) to the new mechanics and genres of board games. At the same time, most of these games will have a theme of growing a city (tribe, civilization) and history - as it’s the theme that often attracts people to 7 Wonders in the first place.
So let’s start!
Dominion - If you enjoy collecting cards that grow your city
Dominion is the closest to 7 Wonders thematically and mechanically I could think of, yet it’s completely different. Essentially, you win by having the most victory points. How do you get the points? You build buildings that bring you those. Dominion is also an easy-to-learn card game, but that’s where the similarities end. By gameplay, it’s a deck-building game where you are trying to create the strongest combination of cards that would grow into a victory.
Catan - If you like developing and trading
I will likely not surprise you with this game. Catan is iconic and has brought many of us to board gaming. Despite the love-hate treatment that it gets in the board gaming communities, this game is very family-friendly and is easy to teach. In fact, it’s nearly always my choice at family dinners or with people who are not used to playing board games. In Catan, you start with two villages that produce resources depending on a die roll. With more resources, you build more villages and cities. The victory belongs to the one who builds the required winning combination first.
You might wonder what’s similar between growing a city and growing a farm, but in fact, there’s quite a lot. Agricola is a very exciting family-friendly engine-building game. That means that you get to start very small and slowly grow your farm choosing one of the many possible strategies. If you think that Agricola is too easy for you, try Caverna. Caverna enriches the Agricola experience by expanding farm building into gem mining, giving you even a more diverse choice on how to develop your settlement.
Carcassonne - If you like competing for victory
When you start playing Carcassonne, which is an area control game, you might not notice how competitive it actually is. After all, all you do in the base game is build (and claim) cities, roads, and farms. With tens of expansions, the content (and joy) of this game is nearly limitless. Yet the more you start playing, the more you understand the dark and sneaky politics of Carcassonne. Turns out you can seize cities, roads, and farms that your opponents have built with such passion and care. Then you discover that you can set up traps. And then - you’re a true fan of Carcassonne.
Tapestry - If you want to grow your civilization
Tapestry is one of the best contenders for the title because it nicely supports the theme without being overly complex (like Civilization or Through the Ages board games would be). Tapestry focuses on you growing your civilization, planning what resources to get, how to spend them, what path to victory to choose. Although the actual mechanics of the games are quite distinct, the philosophy is very similar.
Azul - Another beautiful game of building… walls
And when I say walls, I actually mean a wall. One wall with beautiful Portuguese mosaics that you have to create in order to win the game of Azul. In Azul, you collect beautiful mosaic tiles and solve your own puzzle: that is, how to get going while gaining the most victory points and preparing your wall for the next rounds. It’s a cosy game where you are slowly assembling the mosaic while enjoying the slow flow of the game.
Parks - If you’re into calm games with beautiful art
One picture of Parks was enough to convince me to get this game. This game is simply stunning. To be honest, I wish every game was like Parks! It’s beautiful, simple, and engaging. The components and the box itself are of the highest quality I’ve seen in a long time. In the game itself you take the role of a hiker that explores national parks, collecting resources and taking pictures on the way.
And a little something extra to the fans of 7 Wonders Duel:
Twilight Struggle / Watergate - If you’re looking for strategy-driven 2-player games.
No wonder that Twilight Struggle is on every Must-Try 2 Player Game List. This game is pure strategy and it takes everything 7 Wonder Duel has to the next level. In Twilight Struggle you are on the opposite sides of the Cold War - The US and Soviet Union. As you might have guessed, there’s much more direct confrontation in this game. So if the military track is your favourite path to victory, pick up Twilight Struggle. I have to warn you, it’s not the easiest game to learn, but once you figure that out, it can easily overshine any other 2 player & strategy game you played before. If you think that Twilight Struggle might be too much to start with, check out Watergate instead - it follows very similar mechanics but features an interesting twist. And good news, it’s much easier to learn!
I’ve been playing for as long as I remember myself. When I was a kid I dreamt of building my own games, and now I’m trying to make it a reality. Board games carry me away into a different world where I can be a knight, a researcher, a kingdom builder, or a zombie fighter. Love semi-coop and engine building games. Favourite game of all times: Dead of Winter.