7 Grand Steps

A step forward in making interactive board games with it’s simple, yet complex and addictive gameplay.

By RON, Posted 09 Jun 2013

Thinking of a board game that connects people to the origin of western civilization makes me picture something very complicated and broad. 7 Grand Steps: What Ancients Begat by Mousechief is one of a kind and has altered my imagination into something rather simple yet effective. It not only delivers a player-driven story in a simple turn based way, but adds so much to the gameplay resulting you to keep playing for hours. The game makes you dig up the wonderful story of your ancestors and how you came to be.

7 Grand Steps, Review, Trailer, Board Games

7 Grand Steps won’t dazzle you with its appearance, as it looks rather simple and has only a few features to cope with. However, its uniqueness lies beneath the gameplay which is a faultless mixture of a simulative board game and the way you choose your story to be. The game is played on a wheel where the characters represented by pawns move according to the tokens placed. These tokens are marked with varieties of symbols each containing different skills such as irrigation, masonry, harbors, mathematics, etc. Players drop tokens into the slots of two primary characters whom are the mother and father of the family line. During each turn the wheel spins and brings the characters closer to the river. There are four crocodiles waiting at the river side to feast on the characters who run out of tokens. The basic logic of the game is simple here. Don’t run out of tokens and don’t get eaten by the crocodiles.

Each family can produce up to 7 children and when the parents die one of the children takes over. When raising children, players can spend their valuable tokens to educate them. Educating children isn’t essential, but when educated their story of survival becomes apparent. For instance, when you raise a child with plenty of alphabet tokens, he or she will produce more alphabet tokens as an adult. This will help future generations of children to have more alphabet tokens, and this continues subsequently. There are other characters on the wheel that compete with you to for legend points (known as the breads). Heroic, Invention and Social Advancement are achievements earned when enough legend points are stocked. The heroic achievement grants a random prize, the invention achievement grants a new type of tokens and the social advancement achievement moves the player to the next wheel, brining visible changes to the game.

The four wheels represent a class system; each associated with both lower and higher tracks. Higher tracks give you more space, but wealth is equally distributed between higher and lower wheels. When players reach the outermost track, the game takes its best shape. As the noble class, depending on social status, players must make a decision that changes the next turn. If failed, the family falls to the noble tracks, and if successful the current family member becomes the absolute ruler. For instance, if the player is appointed as the regent over the city’s agriculture, s/he needs to decide on the distribution of four things: grain, planting, land and bribery. To make citizens happy players must distribute grain and acquire land for officials. The current goal is then replaced by new goals to gain more power. Gaining maximum power is the key to becoming the ultimate ruler.

As mentioned earlier, the gameplay is simple and only requires choosing what your social advancements will be. Your family history will have a great deal of effect on the future generation. If it is continuously among the rich, your generation will be successful with more social power and wealth. This entire process of becoming a ruler from a field worker is not an effortless path to walk into. You promise yourself to see a few more turns and end up spending countless hours seeing turn after turn. However, there are great amounts of dreariness in the play. At times producing the tokens you require to gain legend points becomes thorny. Not finding a social partner at the beginning of the game may leave it feeling out of your hands. The definitive goal of the game is to keep the generation going, and when the concept of adopting children is absent, it’s easy to lose the grip pretty easily. There are moments when control of your future feels nearly impossible, resulting in a failure to progress and an unpleasant feeling. Moments like this make you feel that the game is completely based on luck rather than the skills you’ve been building for generations.

7 Grand Steps, Review, Trailer, Board Games

Lack of clear direction is another aspect missing within the game. It’s understandable that 7 Grand Steps doesn’t tell a story of your family history rather it lets you decide how the story should be. Perhaps this logic holds the game back,giving objectives over certain decisions that you make throughout generations. Often there are choices that you are forced to accept making you feel a part of the story is forcefully being changed. Then again, such twists and turns do break the monotony of such gameplay. But even with such drawbacks there is this urge to keep the game going effortlessly. The journey of your family can take up to 10-15 hours with dozens of generations to lay to rest and you still feel like seeing what’s next.

I forcefully stopped myself from playing the game with a mixed reaction; whether I like the game or not. But one thing is for certain. I have indeed enjoyed playing it, and will give it another go in the future. 7 Grand Steps is a step forward in making interactive board games with it’s simple, yet complex and addictive gameplay. It’s only $14 to pay for such an exceptional experience and is worth every cent.


Sarwar Ron, NoobFeed (@Twitter)

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General Information

7 Grand Steps

80/100

Platform(s): PC
Publisher(s): Mousechief
Developer(s): Mousechief Co.
Genres: Simulation
Themes: Strategy
Release Date: 2013-06-07

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