Date of Review: Dec. 1, 2014 

Current personal ranking: #2

Time to play (in my experience): 20-40 minutes, average is about 30 minutes

Difficulty level: 3 (10-15 minutes to teach, less than 90 minutes to play). The only thing that makes this slightly complicated is that there are a lot of symbols to learn at first. It is basically “language independent” so you have to take a little time at first to learn what the different symbols mean.

Age level: It always depends on the “gaming ability” of kids, but I’ve played this game with kids as young as 8. 9 or 10 might be a bit more normal.

Type of Game: Card drafting. This means that everyone starts out with the same amount of cards. You then choose one card to play and pass the remaining cards to the player on the left or the right (depending on what the rules say, in this case it switches each age). What’s really fun about this style of game is that you have to consider both what is good for you and what you might want to deny your neighbors. 

Game setting: Ancient world.

How many players does it play?: 3-7. There is a variant that plays 2 players, but I would rather play different two player games than this variant.

Ideal number: 5, but all numbers work well.

How do you win?: Have the most points through a variety of different types of cards at the end of the third age.

Why do I love/recommend this game?

1) Simultaneous play. It is “always your turn”. Everyone looks, draws, passes, and plays at the same time. You don’t move on to your next card until everyone has decided and played their current card.

2) Many different “paths to victory”. How do you want to build your ancient civilization? Do you want to have a great military? Great science? Wonderful civic buildings?  Want to build your ancient wonder of the world? A little of everything? It’s up to you (well, and the cards you get). All ways are viable, winnable strategies.

3) Fast play time. Since there is no downtime, this game just coasts by. So many times I have played this game and people have said, “what, the 3rd age already?”

4) Different starting positions/goals for each player. Each player starts with one of the ancient civilizations that built an ancient wonder. Each civilization has different benefits for building each level of their wonder (particularly on the more advanced B side). It makes each game play a little bit differently.

5) Beautiful art. The art is stunning, particularly on the “7 wonder boards”

         

 

Here's a couple examples of the wonder boards. Although my picture of them might not do them justice, they really are lovely.

Is there anything offensive about this game? Anything at all? Barely. Pardon the pun, but the women in the “Baths” card are just slightly scantily clad. They are baths afterall! Nothing worse than a G rating there. And since this is set in the ancient world, you might build an altar or a temple to an ancient pagan god in your civilization. Nothing in the game play itself is ever immoral as far as I can see.

Final Word: I love this game and it is my go-to game when I have a larger group (6 or 7) of not-too-novice gamers. It is a very satisfying game every time I play it. Unlike Dominion, I find the expansions to this game largely unnecessary, and more often than not I find myself playing with just the basic set, although it is nice to have some different wonder boards.

Amazon.com price at time of posting: $32.50

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