If You Like 7 Wonders You Might Also Like Paper Tales
Dreaming of running your own city? Plan to make your mark on humanity by providing a major architectural monument that will have future generations asking, “how did they build that?” Well, while you are figuring out how you are going to make that happen, Paper Tales and 7 Wonders are two great games to help you hone your skills before you build the next sphinx/tavern.
In 2017 a new pick and pass civilization style game was introduced, Paper Tales by Stronghold Games. Much like 7 Wonders players are trying to balance military power, architecture, and in general gaining cards that will get you victory points. Both games are great to have in personal collections, but I have highlighted some of the key differences between the games below.
7 Wonders came out in 2010 and is published by Repos Production. As a pick and pass or drafting style game each person is dealt a hand of cards and then they select one card and then pass the rest of the hand to their neighbor. The process repeats until all the cards are gone. Each round of passing the cards is considered an “Age.” During that Age you can decide whether you are going to pick a card to build the structure on the card, build their wonder, or discard the card and gain three coins. There are many paths to victory, but because everyone is working out of the same pool of cards it can be difficult to get the resources you need before someone else does. You will need money and resources to build civilian structures, guilds, and commercial structures, but don’t skimp on your military power because your neighbors could be building up their armies and wreaking havoc on your potential military points. The game is very engaging and since the turns happen simultaneously there isn’t a lot of downtime which keeps your opponents on their toes and off their phones. One of the few things that drag in 7 Wonders is counting the points at the end. This game is great way to test your high school algebra skills when it comes to counting the science points and once you get done counting those there are still 6 other areas to score: treasure, military conflicts won, Wonders, civilian structures, commercial structures, and guilds. 7 Wonders is a neo-classic, a title that is well deserved, but there is room for improvement and Paper Tales may have found a way to provide that.
Paper Tales uses many of the same game mechanics as 7 Wonders. Each person is dealt a hand, they pick a card and pass the rest. The biggest difference between the two is that you are restricted on how many cards can be in your hand or active at one time. This game also changes the way the “Wonders” are built, which in Paper Tales are just basic buildings. The maximum amount of cards you can have active at one time is 5. The players start out with only 4 active cards to begin with and then build a building to unlock the fifth card slot. Each player still has to draft the entire hand, after the drafting phase ends each player selects which cards to play and which ones to discard, and one card that can be held over for the next round. Players lay down their cards in a 2X2 or a 3 and 2 rectangle face down. At the same time all players reveal their cards. The game flow continues with a war phase that is settled between players and their neighbors (just like in 7 Wonders), income, construction, and aging. Your deployed cards will determine your income plus 2 gold is just given to each player. In the construction phase you may build or upgrade a building if your kingdom is producing the correct resources. The final phase is aging, in this phase each card gets an aging token, unless otherwise specified. Once a card has collected two tokens it dies. So unless your card says otherwise you will only have each card for a maximum of two rounds. This is one of the biggest differences between 7 Wonders and Paper Tales. In 7 Wonders your cards do not age out, and you need those cards for scoring. In Paper Tales the buildings are your main form of victory points, with gold being the tie breaker. At the end of the aging phase the round ends and the players start the next round. There are 4 rounds total. Points are kept on a scoreboard. The game feels like it goes fast. Most of the times when I have played I felt like I didn’t have enough time to properly prepare for the final scoring. Most of the scoring happens during game play, which makes tallying up the final scores at the end more expedient.
Fans of 7 Wonders should like Paper Tales because of the similar mechanics and theme. The drafting will feel familiar to players of 7 Wonders. Creating the resources in order to build or improve buildings will be a mechanic players can easily grasp. The biggest difference will be in the way the cards are laid out and how points are calculated. Your front row of cards in Paper Tales is the only line that counts when counting up military strength in the war phase, which is different from how military strength is calculated in 7 Wonders where cards can stack on each other to improve strength. The “age out” mechanic also sets Paper Tales apart and is an aspect that I feel adds a lot of interaction to the game and encourages the players to think on the fly. One of the aspects of Paper Tales I do not appreciate is the “Land tax.” Each time you build a building you are supposed to pay 2 gold for each building you already have constructed. This rule is not notated on the cards and I consistently forget about it, because there is quite a bit to keep track of. To some degree Paper Tales feels like building a community, while 7 Wonders feels like shaping the world; making which game to play a question of “how powerful do you want to be today.” Both games are excellent games and I highly recommend having both in your gaming collection, but to me Paper Tales plays a little faster and will be easier to get my gaming group to sit down and enjoy. The box is also smaller which is nice when your gaming shelf is starting to look a little full… okay really full… okay fine a few of the shelves are sagging under the weight.
What do you think? Anyone think I didn’t do 7 Wonders justice? I would love to hear your opinions in the comments.