It's a Wonderful World - great engine builder with badly written rules
Updated: Dec 14, 2021
Game: It's a Wonderful World
Designer: Frédéric Guérard
Publisher: La Boîte de Jeu, Geronimo Games
Player count: 1-5
Set-up time: ± 6 minutes
Play length: 25 minutes
Win condition: beat your own score and title, vp-threshold in scenarios
how the solo game works
The solo mode for It's a Wonderful World will have you choose one of 8 depots (each consisting of 5 cards face-down) to build or recycle from. you also have the option of discarding 2 cards to draw 5 of which you get to keep 1. After you've traded, built or recycled all of your cards, it's time to choose a second depot. Normal rules apply, you can't store a resource you got from recycling a card to use on cards from your second depot. After getting through 2 depots, it is time for the production phase. Have a production of 5 or more? You score the corresponding victory point (bonus for most production in multi-player). After 4 rounds (each consisting of 2 depots followed by 1 production phase) the game ends.
Utterly confusing and badly written in Dutch, slightly (but not much) better in English. Solo rules explained in the back, followed by one page of 6 solo scenario's.
missing in solo
In multiplayer there's a drafting system where you pick and pass until you have 7 cards, which is substituted in solo play by two seperate hands of 5 cards prior to the production phase. If you feel like you need different cards, you can discard 2 cards to get a hand of 5, from which you can keep just one card. This works a charm, and all other mechanisms are unchanged: drafting, hand management, set collection, the end game bonuses (of which there are many, so keep an eye out for those), and the variable player powers (or variable set-up, when in solo).
It's quick, it's thinky, set-up time is decent, the solo scenarios are good fun and the soft win threshold (you'll be awarded a bronze, silver or gold medal depending on your VP) will make you want to play again and again to up your score. The massive deck of cards makes every play different, and there are quite some strategies to follow depending on the cards you get.
Iconography on the cards is very clear, and I love the dual use cards: recycle them for a resource or build them to get better production.
The massive deck of cards: card shuffling takes up quite some time with a deck this big, but it also means you can play two games in a row before another shuffle is needed, and it makes for an even better set-up/game play ratio.
The massive deck does mean you can get unlucky with cards, or have a game with hardly any cards of one colour, but I find I can mitigate that by changing up my strategy, so the effect of a possibly unbalanced play is quite positive. However, I do think that the solo balance is off in expansion Corruption & Ascension, and I prefer playing just the base game, or the base with campaign expansion War or Peace. But let me get back to the base game.
The massive deck means you can play two games in a row before another shuffle is needed, which makes for an even better set-up/game play ratio.
Randomly picking from 8 piles meant I was losing track of when I needed to go into a production phase, so instead I place 4 groups of 2 depots each so I get a visual cue once it's time for production.
Go play this one solo. Despite the rule book, this is one of my favourite games. It is quick to set up, and easy to manage but with a lot to think about. Scenario's provide a nice change, as do the different starter cards, which also means replayability is high. You won't have to dive in the terribly written rulebook too often since the game itself is pretty straightforward. I keep coming back to this one, and can't wait to play its sibling It's a Wonderful Kingdom.