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I've only played one game so far and it was with 7 players so that might not have been a normal experience...

I got the feeling that most cards in Age 3 are simply not affordable because they need so many resources.

  • Is that a common thing, i.e., you'd have to deliberately focus on resource cards if you want to build a lot in Age 3?
  • Is it just bad playing on the part of me (and others)?
  • Maybe it's even an effect of having so many players?

EDIT to elaborate on my experience: I actually won the game so there's no complaint there. I had around 4 brown/gray buildings and my neighbors had roughly the same amount. I don't think I had one of those yellow free resources cards though. When Age 3 came I realized that about half my hand was impossible to build because neither me nor my neighbors had the necessary resources. I eventually relied on the few cards I could build and a lot of freebies from previous cards (I think I placed about 5 buildings for free). IIRC I never trashed a card in the last age but I did build my last two wonder stages...

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First off, Seven Wonders is meant to be a 7-player game! You got the "normal experience". It's not as if resources are much less scarce in the 3-player game - you do remove more than half the cards from the mix in that game, after all...

I've never found the Age 3 cards to be "unaffordable", so yes, I would suggest that if you find yourself unable to take actions other than "discard for 3 coins" in Age 3, you're probably playing suboptimally to some degree.

Having said that, when I say I can "afford" an Age III card, I don't usually mean "pay the exact resources for" it. I mean one of the following:

  • be able to pay for most of it, but have a big stockpile of cash to buy the extra resources I need from my neighbours.
  • use yellow cards providing "one free resource of any kind" to plug the gaps in my production.
  • use my Wonder's special power to get free resources or builds, if applicable.
  • keep a close eye on "upgrade chains" of cards from Age I that get me free cards from Age II that then get me free cards from Age III.

So in many cases I'm shortcutting cards into play instead of actually paying for them. But I definitely think that if, more than once or twice in Age III, you're looking at your hand and thinking "there's nothing here I can play, at all", something has gone badly wrong with your strategy!

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A good answer, but I would make one qualification to your final comment. As you get down to the last few cards of Age III, it's not uncommon to be unable to play any of the cards you're given, especially if your opponents are deliberately trying to give you cards they know you can't play. –  Todd Nov 12 '11 at 16:06
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