After A Long Wait, 7 Wonders' Mobile Port Is A Letdown

After much lobbying, 7 Wonders made the transition to mobile late last year. It's been a long time coming: a mobile port was supposedly being developed back in 2013, and the boxed version has contained an ad for the mobile game for the last couple of years.

So finally, users on Android and iOS can finally enjoy quick, snappy games of 7 Wonders on the train or the toilet. But beyond the core rules and cards that you'd expect to find, the mobile translation of 7 Wonders is awfully lacking.

Let's get the good stuff out of the way. If you've ever played a real life game of 7 Wonders and thought, "I wish this didn't take half an hour", you're in luck. Games against bots can be done and dusted within a couple of minutes; games against humans, provided you're not dealing with a full squad of seven, barely take much longer.

The UI works best with games of three to five people, although it supports up to 7, like the board game.

It's not overly difficult to identify what cards you can play, or have played, either. That was always the greatest problem facing publishers Repos: 7 Wonders relies on not only the cards you have available, but also the cards and resources played by the players to your left and right.

As a result, their cards need to be visible at all times too, which makes for a tricky situation UI-wise. You'll always have permanent vision of your immediate neighbours - which helps - and if need be, you can see what cards your neighbours have played by swiping down from the top.

Things get a tad chaotic with a full table.

For the most part, it works. There's a lot of text on the screen, and it can be hard to visually identify what resources particular cards need. But if you can play the card, either for free or via gold coin donation to your rivals, you'll know with a big green tick.

So, functionally, 7 Wonders works.

The menu options aren't extensive.

The kicker with 7 Wonders is that, beyond the mechanics that make the game work, there's really very little to do. Once you hit the play button on the app, you're presented with two options: play solo vs AI, or play online with a mixed group of people. There's greyed out options for two bits of DLC (Cities and Leaders, but not Wonders, the best of the expansions), and an option to choose anywhere from 3 to 7 players.

Both modes are pretty sparse, too. On the singleplayer side, there's no option to pass and play. The real crime is in multiplayer though: you can't create custom matches; your profile doesn't track wins, losses or disconnects; and disconnects from multiplayer matches are frequent, although fortunately you can rejoin any game if there's an open slot.

Don't put all your eggs in the science basket, basically.

But in a world where board game apps are offering more than just a digital translation of themselves - like the excellent conversion of Through The Ages - it's a shame that 7 Wonders is so sparse, especially given how long the game has been in development.

After all, 7 Wonders isn't the most complicated board game you'll find on iTunes or the App Store. It's also not the only game to have to overcome substantial UI problems, Twilight Struggle being a good example.

These gripes, mind you, are a sign of just how far app development has come. It's not enough just to get something working on mobiles anymore with a half-decent interface. The bar has been raised substantially, and it's not enough just to offer a clean, working version of a classic board game for $8.49/$7.99 (Android/iOS).

7 Wonders is available now on Android and iOS for tablets and mobiles.


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