7 Wonders Leaders Review

What It Adds:
7 Wonders and 7 Wonders Leaders play virtually identical.  There aren't really any changes to the core experience or new rules to learn, yet Leaders can still freshen things up substantially if you've played the base game a lot.  Before Age I is dealt, each player is given four leaders which are drafted and passed around - nothing unusual for anyone who has played 7 Wonders before.

After the draft, each player is armed with a hand of four Leader cards ranging from Alexander the Great to Imhotep and Caesar - most Leaders of whom are well known in history. Before Age I begins each player has the choice between, paying to put a Leader into play, discarding a leader for three coins or using a leader to upgrade their wonder if you have the required resources available.

After Leaders have been played, Age I commences and plays out exactly the same as it always has. Conflict's are still resolved at the end of the Age but before Age II starts, another Leader phase begins with the decision of how best to incorporate your other Leader cards into your wonder.  This happens again just before Age III and the last leader is automatically discarded.

New Components:
Being called 7 Wonders Leaders, the main component of this expansion is Leaders.  Thirty-Seven Leader cards are in the box, which includes Semiramis a blank Leader card which you can be creative with and come up with your own powers for.  Also inside are new tokens worth '6' coins, four new guild cards, a courtesan token (used with a new guild card), one new Wonder (Rome) which focuses heavily on leaders, and a new score pad to reflect victory points earned through your leaders.

My Thoughts:
7 Wonders Leaders is an expansion that easily becomes part of the core 7 Wonders experience after a couple of plays.  With no changes to the gameplay, the only learning is a few new icons and symbols which are easily picked up once everyone has asked or seen them in play a couple of times.  Having the extra phase of drafting Leaders, as well as starting each Age with a Leader action, does add a few minutes in playtime but the overall effects of this expansion make it a worthwhile addition.

As the Leaders are drafted before even dealing out Age I cards, they often force you to decide on a basic strategy early on.  That's not to say once you have picked your Leaders you are unable to adapt with what your presented during the three Ages, but smart Leader drafting and management can turn the tide, strengthen your wonder and lead you to victory. For example starting the draft with military leaders like Leonidas (pay one less resource to build Military cards), Alexander (+1VP for each victory token you have), Nero (+2 coins each time you take a victory token), and Pericles (+2VP for each military card) will cause you to definitely build military cards, but the Leaders make red cards that much more powerful and beneficial if you choose to do so. Sometimes the best of plans can change and being able to trade a Leader in for coins or upgrade your wonder in between ages, gives you the freedom to be able to ignore your Leaders which occasionally can be the best option.

7 Wonders Leaders brings about a longer play time and more symbols to learn, but our play group will rarely play without the Leaders expansion included now. There is just something special about having historical names like Midas, Aristotle, King Solomon and Cleopatra leading your wonder and of course the added potential for even higher scores is always nice.  Some Leaders play better with certain styles but they are fairly balanced and add some interesting choices without tainting the 7 Wonders experience.

My Verdict:
Expands 7 Wonders without changing the gameplay
Sets your strategy early but allows you freedom to still be flexible