The Art of Losing at 7 Wonders

I’m not a particularly competitive person. Largely, this comes from many years of losing at various sports, games, competitions, etc. I do compete with myself, and enjoy beating personal records, but when it comes to person-to-person, I’m enthusiastically non-competitive. Sometimes I throw games intentionally for my own amusement. This has been a consistent source of ire for my board-game friends, who claim I’m “not playing the game right.”

Take 7 Wonders. It’s a card game where you create a civilization. Each card is a location or building like a brickyard, temple, barracks, library. Get the right combinations and you get the most points: you win. I had a somewhat different take.

What exactly did I want points for? Did my people care about points? As their godlike autocrat, I could have scrambled for meaningless points like a bored Olympian, but I wanted my people to be happy. I wanted them to live rich, meaningful lives. My people would be great in their own way, independent of points.

I think culture and education are important to living satisfying lives, so once we had the foundations of basic resources, I had my people build a press and a theater. While the neighboring civilizations were crudely laboring over swords and armor, my people learned to read, and act. Just born, yet my advanced society had its own apothecary and workshop where we could practice the kind of science that would enhance the lives of my every citizen.

Unfortunately, the other civilizations were barbaric thugs and would frequently rob my people. They had barracks full of idiots, idiots with metal weapons, and my people could only read. Each act of violence was recorded and later dramatized for the stage, the theater of which was continually being burned down, and rebuilt.

Despite being victimized by brutes, my people were happy. They built a school and a library—the only library in the known world. They read history and knew of our civilization’s perpetual persecution at the hands of hawkish morons with horses and bows. They wrote the first poetry in existence, only to be butchered by illiterates. Pacifists, my people constructed an exquisite temple, that they might pray to the gods for peace. Their prayers were never answered.

Undeterred, my great civilization continued pursuing all of the most important things in life. Intellectuals, they built a university where studied the greatest minds in existence. They built an observatory and recorded the movements of stars—the only people in the world to know they even moved at all. They built gardens, magnificent gardens rivaling that of Kubla Khan! And after the philosophers guild was created, long inquiries into the nature of existence were conducted surrounded by variegated flowers and ivy-covered walls. But the world was cruel, the roving armies massive and merciless. My people were slaughtered.

But were they not the true winners? Intellectuals, scholars, artists—my people died singing songs and reciting poetry—and that was how they wanted to die. I may have gotten the least amount of points, but the other civilizations… Had they ever really lived?


Charlie McCormick first wrote creatively in the second grade, producing an illustrated Odyssean epic on the hubris of man’s scientific achievements in a universe ruled by an angry God. They studied English at CRC which lead to Sac State’s creative-writing program where they wrote several essays, a bunch of poems, a couple of scripts, a short story, a poetic novel, and are currently working on one of several poetry books. They plan to enroll in an MFA program in 2023. In the meantime, they intend to work in the afternoons so they can write in the mornings.