7 Wonders: Leaders
Designed by Antoine Bauza
Art by Miguel Coimbra
Published by Repos Productions in 2011
Though it’s a bit on the nose, I can appreciate that the title get’s straight to the point; 7 Wonders: Leaders introduces and solely focusses on a new set of cards, Leaders. Like an anachronistic Justice League, each leader has a unique power to aid your civilization. From Leonidas, Archimedes, and Hammurabi, to Plato, Cleopatra, and more, this all-star antiquitous assembly will guide your burgeoning nation’s advancement, subtly adding direction and speciality.
Players now begin the game with a little extra gold and draft four leaders per player. At the beginning of each age players can put a leader of their choice in play, discard it for three gold, or (if they have the resource production) can use it to build a stage of wonder. I really appreciate that Leaders have a broad range of effects that are almost always useful though never game breaking. With effects like adding additional military strength, giving discounts on certain types of buildings, or granting bonus points at the end of the game for specific colors, the leaders give you new strategic considerations for cards that you might otherwise pass up.
To round out the expansion, Leaders also has a new Wonder and a few new guilds to integrate with the base game, primarily focussed on interacting with the leaders in different ways. Additionally, because there is more money flowing in the game through setup and card effects, Repos Productions graciously included several 6 value coins, a welcome addition indeed.
Should you get it?
Oh, you want to know more? OK, Leaders is easily my favorite 7 Wonders expansion and one of my favorite expansions of all time. It does what I love most about expansions, integrating new concepts that are fundamentally different yet intuitive and at home within the original structure of the game. Aside from a few changes in setup and when you play your leaders, the game flows identically. Granted, Leaders do add a bit more strategic complexity to a game already filled to the brim with cryptic symbology, so I might refrain from including Leaders when playing with beginners or friends looking for a more casual affair. But if you are familiar with and enjoy the base game, it’ll be a snap to add this expansion to the fold.
With 36 leader cards, there are endless combinations of asymmetrical goodness to explore, yet it never feels like the leaders rigidly define your strategy. Furthermore, while I found the base game’s artwork beautiful but ultimately forgettable, Coimbra has managed to inject so much personality into each of the Leaders’ portraits; it really makes the setting and overall theme click with me in a way that the base game never did. This expansion is all about heightening the best things about 7 Wonders, granting more immersion, strategy, and fun. If you like 7 Wonders, I highly recommend this expansion.