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World Wonders Review

Review of: World Wonders
Board Game Review by::
Tony Mastrangeli

Reviewed by:
On Mar 19, 2024
Last modified:Mar 19, 2024


We review World Wonders, a tile laying and city building game published by Arcane Wonders. In World Wonders, players are trying to create the best city in the ancient world.

World WondersWorld Wonders has been hot on the BGQ radar since Brian B first demoed it at Gen Con 2023 and subsequently made it his Staff Pick of the convention. Since that time, it’s been making the rounds and generating quite a bit of buzz.

Thanks to Arcane Wonders, I’ve finally got my hands on a copy of World Wonders and have put it through the paces. It’s an action point and tile-laying game that will have you trying to make the best city in the ancient world.

Gameplay Overview:

World Wonders is played out over 10 rounds (or fewer if someone zooms up the population track). Each round, players will have 7 coins (action points) to spend on acquiring items for their city. Different things they can buy include polyomino-shaped tiles at varying costs (2-5 coins), road tiles, tower tiles, or a monument.

World Wonders Player Aids
There are a few different things you can buy, and many have placement restrictions.

After drafting said item, it needs to be placed in your city. New city tiles need to be placed either next to a road, or a previously played tile of matching color. Roads can connect to the sidewalk edge of the board or a previously placed road. And towers can go anywhere and let you start a new road.

Monuments, though, are a bit unique. They don’t have a set cost but require you to spend all your remaining gold. So it may cost you 1 coin if you buy it as your last action of the round, or all 7 coins if it’s the first thing you purchase. They also have building restrictions. For example, they may need to be placed next to a road tile and a farm district. Or perhaps next to water and a temple. In the end, they will grant you a few VPs to go along with a cool looking piece in your city.

Each city tile will also produce one or more goods (3 different types). After placing the tile, you increase your good tracker, which will grant population points at specific benchmarks. You want to keep these three goods somewhat level as you’ll score points for the lowest value of the three at the end of the game.

The game ends after 10 rounds, and players earn points from a variety of sources. The main ones are the aforementioned goods track and monuments, as well as each city tile that’s completely surrounded. Most points wins.

World Wonders Gameplay
It’s a lot of fun watching your city come to life.

Game Experience:

Despite my overly verbose explanation above, World Wonders is quite an easy game to learn and teach. The hardest things to get across to a new player are how scoring works and how you can acquire a monument (more on that in a bit). But I’d consider this a Gateway+ game that you can easily play with new gamers who have already cut their teeth on some of the staples like Ticket to Ride or Carcassonne.

World Wonders Goods
At the end of the game, you’ll score points equal to your lowest goods token.

But that doesn’t mean it’s just for casual players. We’ve had a lot of fun with World Wonders thanks in part to is diverse scoring system and also the Monuments mechanic. I think that the push your luck feature of acquiring a monument was a nice design choice. There are times when there is a monument that you really want to get, so you need to decide just how much to spend on it. This is doubly tough when there are other players at the table that can also build the same monument. To build a monument, you need to meet its requirements and its pretty easy to look around the table and see who can and can’t build it. If you are the only one that can, its very easy to just wait till the last action for the round and pay only 1-2 gold.

But when happens when both you and another player have the perfect spot for it? Do you go all in and get it as your only action for the round? Paying a full round worth of actions in a game with only 10 rounds is a super steep price. However, each turn you wait will up the risk of it being taken out from under you. Its in these moments that World Wonders really shines.

World Wonders Market
There are a variety of different tiles for your city.

Speaking of the monument though, this is also one are where the game could be improved. Firstly, the costs on them are a bit cryptic. The cards have a series of arrows, dashes, and other symbols that will make sense after you understand the game, but are quite abstract to a new player.

The other issue is that the monuments feel a bit vanilla. Most just give you 1-2 points, with the occasional one also offering up a good for you to earn. Contrast that with not only the game being named after them, but how much table presence they bring, and it feels like a missed opportunity for them to be more impactful in the game. While I do give them props for looking cool, and that’s honestly what drives most of us to buy them anyway. The other thing of note is that in a high player count game, they will probably run out before the end of the game, which is less than ideal.

World Wonders Monuments
The monuments look great, but are a bit vanilla in their powers .

Final Thoughts:

Despite some issues with the monuments, I really enjoyed World Wonders. The core game play loop is really interesting and it plays well at all player counts (but best at 2-3). The action point system is great because the items all have different costs, so it’s not a 1:1 exchange. This, plus figuring out where to place things for optimal point scoring means the game offers a good amount of tough decisions to make. There is already an expansion planned, so hopefully that addresses some of the issues with the monuments. If so, it could elevate and already great game even higher.

Final Score: 4 Stars – A great city building game with a solid table presence, but the titular wonders could use a boost.

4 StarsHits:
• Engaging gameplay mechanics
• Looks great watching your city come alive
• Tough decisions to make
• Variety of ways to earn points

• Monument requirements are a bit cryptic
• Monuments feel a bit lack luster

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