There are some great engine building games out there like Wingspan, Gizmos, Splendor, Space Explorers and more. The first time we put It’s a Wonderful World on the table, it immediately hit that list of great engine builders. Players are working to build a more powerful empire than the other players through industrial and military power.
Players start the game with an empire card that gives you resources and a bonus linked to your card. In each of the 4 rounds, players are given a hand of 7 cards to draft from. You’ll draft a card then pass the remaining cards to your right (or left depending on the round you’re in). You want to draft cards for the resource value on the card or you’ll add the card to your tableau and build that item to add to your empire.
You’ll see discovery, vehicle, technology, project and structure cards during the game. There are lots of common cards that you’ll probably see each round, but committing to build some of the more unique cards will be a challenge that pays off.
If you choose to use a card for it’s resource payout, you’ll receive a resource cube that appears on the card. You’ll find yourself tossing some of the most common cards for these resource cubes as you build your empire. It’s a Wonderful World does a great job of offering you lots of options that you’ll eventually realize you have no chance to fulfill. It’s important to focus on building specific card types so that you don’t end the game with the skeletons of a dozen unfinished projects in your tableau.
In It’s a Wonderful World, you’ll allocate colored cubes to your projects and move your project into your empire once it’s met the cards requirements. The game is broken into really clear phases that lead into the production of resources that happen in a specific order. This is shown on the board that sits in the middle of the table. The player that produces the most of each specific resource is given a military or financier token. These are victory points, they often have cards that boost their scoring and some cards require these tokens in order to build.
At the end of 4 rounds, players look at their empires to calculate their victory points and bonuses to get a final score.
Leading the Way
The mechanics and flow of It’s a Wonderful World is so fluid. This game has easily surpassed 7 Wonders and Splendor for our family. The shear number of cards in the game is pretty awesome. Even after almost a dozen games, I feel like I’m still seeing some cards for the first time when we play.
The dystopian, industrial artwork on the cards are gorgeous to look at. When cards are added into your empire, you end up covering up this beautiful art to show your total production value each round of the game.
Players who focus on specific card types and combinations will see their hard work pay off by the end of the game. There are lots of bonuses available through final scoring multipliers. It’s a Wonderful World is a game that is a constant reminder that when I try to do every single thing, my score ends up suffering. Pick a couple areas to focus on and stick to the plan.
The way the game produces resources means that you need to pay attention to what you have in construction. You need to plan ahead so that as the production phase moves forward, these new resources then finish construction projects that will be added in a meaningful way to your empire. Completing a construction and moving the card into your empire means that you can produces those resources that haven’t gone into production yet. This is such a great system!
A Not So Deep Theme
While It’s a Wonderful World has impressed me on just about every level, I have struggle on the topic of the theme of this game. After my first play of the game, I remember thinking that the games theme is totally meaningless. I had little to no connection with what I was building and everything revolved around the card colors.
After each play of the game, I feel like I’ve come to appreciate the theme a little more. While this game doesn’t really have a story, I think players could find a light theme in the way they choose to build throughout a game. As I choose specific construction projects, I wanted to feel like the individual projects were important. I love the art in this game and that’s a big reason why I wish there was more of a story to It’s a Wonderful World. Even feeling disconnected from the theme, this game is still absolutely fantastic.
It’s a Wonderful World is a game that is easily taught to new and experienced gamers. By the 4th round, players often ask to play another game because they know they can be more efficient as they build their empire. If you’re a fan of card drafting, engine building games, this is a game that will be right at home on your game shelf.
- Loads of cards with lots of variety
- Offers more depth than some of the lighter engine builders
- Beautiful card art that pops
- Scoring bonuses and multipliers galore
- The theme feels like it’s lacking
- Game can end just as you gain confidence in your empire