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World Wonders & Mundo Expansion Review

World Wonders & Mundo Wonders Pack Book Cover World Wonders & Mundo Wonders Pack
Tile-Laying
Arcane Wonders
2023
Zé Mendes
Odysseas Stamoglou, Tom Ventre
1-5

World Wonders is a tile-laying game that has players overseeing the growth and expansion of their own cities, competing with their fellow leaders to gather resources, grow their population, and raise the most impressive monuments possible!

In the grand tradition of polyomino-laying tile games, World Wonders is all about grabbing the optimal tiles for your growing settlement.  Each player gets their own map board, and each map is double-sided, with one side featuring an identical layout with a lake in the middle and the other showing a unique river for reach board.  Maps start mostly (aside from a starting length of road each player will place on their first turn), but also have several ‘Natural Resource’ squares, which will give bonus points as long as they are still visible and adjacent to a player’s buildings at the end of the game.

Building tiles are divided into 5 types: Library, Farm, Habitation, Market, and Temple.  Tiles can only get added to your board if they are adjacent to either a road, bridge, or another tile of that same type, so as each player takes their turns, they’ll need to consider how to not only buy the optimal tiles for their plans, but also how best to lay out their city to accommodate its growth.

Each round, all players will have 7 coins to spend on building tiles from the market.  The size of the market gets adjusted for different player counts, with higher counts introducing new shapes of tiles.  Each turn, a player can spend coins to get tiles from the market and add them to their own city.  Coins can also be spent on the first & second player markers, as well as additional roads to help with city growth.  Coins don’t carry over from round to round, so it’s always worth spending whatever you’ve got, and if a player chooses to, they can even get a loan of 2 additional coins, though this loan will either cost 3 to repay or, if unpaid at the end of the game, will impose a point penalty.

Buildings added to your city increase your city’s available resources, as tracked on your individual resource board.  As these levels increase, so will your city’s population, which will impact your final score.  You will also earn points for your lowest resource, so you’ll want to diversify your investments for maximum gain!

Andrew
Andrew
But in a game called World Wonders, what would your city be without a wonder?
Jess
Jess
Boring! So let’s build some!

Adding wonders, unintuitively called Monuments in the rules, to your city is where World Wonders introduces a much-appreciated wrinkle into its otherwise-straightforward tile-placing puzzle.  Each Monument has placement requirements, just like city tiles, often needing to be adjacent to a specific building type and/or map feature such as a natural resource spot.  However, Monuments also tend to take up a rather large bit of territory on your map, so you’ll need to plan in advance to make sure that not only can you meet a Monument’s placement requirements, but that you’ve got room to place them at all.  Monuments you add to your city will give you points, and often boost your resources or population as well!

Monuments are also really where World Wonders gets the closest to being directly competitive.  Unlike building tiles, which can be purchased, any player who meets the placement requirements for a Monument can end their turn by adding it to their city.  Which means that if more than one player has their eye on a given Monument, it’s a race to be the first person who can finagle their board into shape for claiming it.

Jess
Jess
Aside from that tension, World Wonders is a pretty dang solitary game – you’re only ever really indirectly competing, and the meanest thing someone can do to you is grab a tile from the board you really wanted. Not a bad thing, just something to know!

At the end of the game (after 10 rounds or once a player has maxed out their population track), players will add up their points and determine a winner.  These points come from resources, population, city districts, completed Monuments, and connected Natural Resource spots.

Andrew
Andrew
There’s an ‘advanced’ variant of the game that introduces community goal cards, where players compare how well they met these goals for points. We recommend always adding them!

Overall, World Wonders is a straightforward tile-laying game.  It’s incredibly easy to teach – spend coins to get tiles and add them to your city – with only a handful of placement rules to be aware of.  The Monuments themselves are the most mechanically interesting part, and it’s definitely fun to see a city scape that features the Ishtar Gate, Angkor Wat, and the Giza Pyramid Complex all in the same place, especially since each of the Monuments have unique, well-made wooden pieces, which add some visual flair to what is otherwise a fairly muted color palette.

Jess
Jess
I think World Wonders is fun and light. It’s not at all a complex strategy game, but it’s always neat to see how well you can Tetris your pieces together, especially when you’re trying to grab a Monument before another player can manage it.
Andrew
Andrew
Definitely. The game’s a quick one, too, since players can basically do their tile placement while the next player does their purchasing.


MUNDO Wonders Pack

The Mundo Wonders Pack expansion for World Wonders adds 9 new Monuments (at this point, we’re really confused why they’re not just called ‘Wonders’) that can be directly added to the base game.  These additional Monuments are just as nicely-made as those in the base game, and add some new shapes for placement consideration, which is perfectly welcome.  But where the Mundo Wonders Pack adds some real interest is in MUNDO mode.

Andrew
Andrew
Calling it a ‘mode’ might be a little bit of an overstatement, admittedly, but I’m a fan of it!

When playing in MUNDO mode, the 9 new Monuments will be worth a variable number of points based on how well you meet the unique objectives of each Monument.  So in addition to the placement requirements to add the Monument in the first place, you’ll also want to work to meet the scoring requirements to get the most out of your investment.

The Sphinx needs to be next to a road and a pyramid to be placed, but in MUNDO mode, it’s worth more points if it’s next to all 3 pyramids

These requirements tend to be a little more interesting than just making sure a Monument is next to a Library or whatever – the Gate of All Nations is worth more points if it spans a long road, the Olmec Colossal heads score higher based on how many city tiles sit between them, and so on.  Meeting these requirements adds just a little bit of complexity to World Wonders, which is a welcome addition indeed.

Andrew
Andrew
I honestly think World Wonders kinda needs the Mundo Wonders Pack – the base game is fine, but this little expansion adds some strategy that is needed
Jess
Jess
I agree with you, for sure. But something to keep in mind is that if one player is focusing on building out their city with an eye towards getting 3 points out of a Monument while the other is just pushing towards the end of the game as fast as possible, things can get a little wonky.


Overall, we enjoyed World Wonders – it’s an uncomplicated good time, without much in the way of direct contention between players.  The Mundo Wonders Pack expansion pack doesn’t add a whole lot of new content, but what it adds is entirely welcome and if you enjoy the base game you should certainly pick the expansion up as well.  Well-made and easy to learn, with think that World Wonders could easily be a staple game for game nights focusing on lighter fair that’s more filling than fillers, and is very functional at all player counts (though to be fair, we didn’t test the solitaire mode).  On the whole we recommend checking out World Wonders if a somewhat laid-back tile-laying game with very little direct contention sounds like your idea of a good time!

You can pick up a copy of World Wonders here and the Mundo expansion here.

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