It’s a Wonderful World Review

It's a Wonderful World
La Boîte de Jeu, Lucky Duck Games, Origames
2019
Frédéric Guérard
Anthony Wolff
1–5 Players

It’s a Wonderful World is a razor-fine, empire-building game in which players will assemble the city of their dreams through clever drafting and precision planning.

In It’s a Wonderful World, players will start with the same number of cards and must draft 1 and pass until they have a hand of 7 cards.  The cards you draft will either be developed as part of your city (either giving your points outright or increasing your ability to produce points and/or resources every turn), or they will be discarded to immediately provide resources (all the better to build up your city/engine).

In our experience, the first few cards you draft will inform your strategy for the rest of the game so it is super critical that you choose carefully. The game only lasts 4 turns, so you need to make the most of every decision!

Jess
Jess
In my first play, I made the mistake of grabbing a lot of cards I wanted to develop and not throwing away enough cards to get the resources I needed. Thus I ended up not being able to build much the first turn.

Andrew
Andrew
It’s a super easy mistake to make, because basically every card you draw is something that’s valuable and appealing! Who wouldn’t want to generate piles of resources every round, or get big bonus points at the end of the game? But you just can’t do it all, and that’s the challenge.

The cards you choose to develop are put into your reserve until you spend resources to build them.  Once complete, these cards will be added to your city and can produce resources every round.  However, resources are doled out in phases, triggered in the sequence depicted on the main board, as shown here.

You’ll get Materials first, then Energy, Science, Gold, and finally Exploration. To figure out how many of each resource you get, you need to add up the icons  on your built cards and player board that match the current Production step. The resources you receive must be allocated as soon as you get them and the moment you fulfill a card you can build it. This mean that your newly completed card will count for getting resources the same round it’s complete, and if those resources haven’t triggered yet, you’ll get to factor in your new card when gathering them.

If you don’t have room for your resources on your cards you can instead place them on your board. Once you have 5, you can trade them in for 1 Krystallium which acts as a wild resource and is required as payment by some cards to build.

Jess
Jess
It’s very satisfying to chain together actions by completing a card that gives you what you need to build another card, but it all the plotting feels a little Machiavellian. By the second turn I had totally lost track of what my opponents were doing as I needed all of my focus just to keep my own plans on track.

Andrew
Andrew
I know what you mean. It feels awesome when you manage to time it out so that you get resources that let you complete a card that lets you get more resources that then let you complete another, and so on. But with only 4 rounds, that opportunity is one you’ll have to both plan for and luck into.

To add further complication, the player who has the majority in production of a resource during the production phase will receive the corresponding Character token (either the Financier or General). These tokens can sometimes be a requirement to pay for a card and will give you victory points at the end of the game. 

After the 4th round the game ends and you tally up the points on your cards, any bonus points earned from cards, and the points from your Character tokens. Whoever has the most, wins.

Jess
Jess
I really liked It’s a Wonderful World. If you’ve ever played 7 Wonders, by Antoine Bauza, it will feel very familiar; playing off the same sort of drafting mechanics, but It’s a Wonderful World is feels so much tighter. The four rounds leave very little room for error.
Andrew
Andrew
I really liked it too. The cards are colorful with tons of great art, and the system and gameplay are a tight puzzle that can be incredibly satisfying…when you can make them work.
Jess
Jess
Right, that’s the important bit. 4 rounds is an *incredibly* tight space to play a game, especially one like this where, if you’re not building an engine from turn 1, you’re in trouble. But I still really enjoyed it, and definitely recommend fans of this sort of tableau/engine building game to check it out!

It’s a Wonderful World had a few little missteps – for the size of the box, the board didn’t feel like it needed to be 2 pieces of cardboard (a neoprene mat would have been awesome) and yeah, like we keep saying, the luck of the draft and a bad first turn or two will probably tank your game no matter how well you play, but all the same, we really enjoyed it.  It even works really well at 2, which other games (*cough* 7 Wonders *cough*) simply can’t do.  So all in all, this one’s a recommendation from us!

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