Variant Fun is all about checking out tweaks, variants and whole new rulesets that change up the board games we love.
7 Wonders, a game of building great monuments, developing your civilisation and trying to become a beacon enlightenment in the ancient world. But what if you ran a society of lemmings, hell-bent on driving their civilisation into ruin? Well, that’s where 7 Blunders comes in.
If you haven’t played it, 7 Wonders is a light/medium weight card game played over 3 rounds of drafting cards to add to your tableau and reliably clocks in a playtime of under an hour. I’ll admit 7 Wonders isn’t the most exciting game but its an old standby for my board game group and makes a great filler game when you want something a bit more involved than a social deduction or party game
Cue 7 Blunders, a fan made rule-set that turns the game on its head. The additional rules are minimal and as follows:
- The “winner” is the player with the fewest points at the end of the game.
- You cannot discard a card for coins unless you have no other legal play (verify this by showing a neighbour the hand you’re drafting from.
- When you pay the resource cost to play a card, you must do so in the most efficient way available to you.
That’s it, three simple rules and the theme of the game becomes completely absurd. Military power is now something you try to force your neighbours into choosing, masochistically hoping they’ll defeat you in battle, and thus providing you with those sweet, sweet negative points.
In the early rounds, you can choose to build up your economy as resource cards won’t score you any points, but be careful! All those resources risk giving you a functioning economy that might allow you to afford big point scoring cards in rounds 2 and 3.
In standard 7 Wonders, I rarely pay that much attention to my neighbours other than to note whether I should be increasing my military strength in relation to theirs. In 7 Blunders I took a Machiavellian glee in trying to force them into the worst draft choices possible. Science cards are low scoring individually but each one you add to the set increases their score exponentially; a dangerous thing if your neighbour is paying attention.
Herein lies the heart of the matter, for whatever reason, it feels so much worse to gain points when they count against you in 7 Blunders than it does when points count in your favour 7 Wonders. Accruing points in 7 Wonders never felt that exciting yet there is a weird combination of pain and amusement as you realised you’ve cornered yourself into a hand of terrible choices in the final round of 7 Blunders.
The absurdity of the theme in contrast with the usual sombreness of the game is really doing most of the work here. Usually scoring so poorly isn’t very fun, but when you realise that somehow you’ve managed to score higher than you would in a usual game of 7 Wonders, all you can do is laugh.
I wouldn’t recommend 7 Blunders as the primary way to experience 7 Wonders, instead, I’d thoroughly recommend it to anyone who has a few games under their belt so they can properly contrast this mad, fan expansion.