On the whole I am a sucker for board games, you all know this from some of my other reviews. Rules are generally well defined with clear parameters and behaviours. 7 Grand Steps follows this quite well. So why am I so unsure of where I stick this game?
7 Grand Steps is all about moving forward in time, establishing yourself in the highest class possible and ruling over your people for as long as possible. All this takes place on a single board with multiple pawns that move at your command. Each round you can either pay tokens to move a person clockwise to the next matching space, move backwards to generate tokens, or spend tokens to train your offspring in that skill (increasing its chance to produce that token in the future).
At its heart 7 Grand Steps is essentially a resource management game. You have to balance when to get tokens, when to move and when to spend them to ensure that you do not fall off the end of the board (or have heirs which are too dumb to manage a mud farm). Sprinkled throughout the game are random events, which add a little spice, and bigger quests which require the collection of beads which appear on the board.
Together this does not make for a hard game to learn; whether or not it is hard to master is something else altogether. I do not feel that this game offers enough challenge to make it ever feel like you have achieved anything. Rounds are slow and you will virtually never get eaten by the crocs when the board rotates. Even if you die or are don’t marry, you just continue from one of your other relations and continue on.
7 Grand Steps claims to have about 15 hours gameplay, something that I do not doubt, however I feel that it is much fairer to say that it only contains about 4 hours worth of entertainment. It very quickly becomes a grind; you are just repeating the same actions in the hopes that something interesting will eventually happen.
I think that some would enjoy this style of game, but for me there was only so much I could do before I had to take a break. If you are into board games, I think there are far superior titles around. If you are into the idea of creating dynasties, there are better games around. If you are into strategy games, there are far better games around. I do not feel that this does anything well enough to really stand out, and I think that the mechanic itself is too weak to really drive the game by itself. For a few dollars I do not think it is a bad investment, but you should expected to get bored after a couple of hours.