7 Grand Steps is a new computer board game from Mousechief, developer of Dangerous High School Girls in Trouble. No, that isn’t at all what you’re thinking. Currently in late beta, 7 Grand Steps will release on June 7, and full beta access is available for Windows and OS X with a preorder from through the developer’s website. You can grab the free beta demo here.
The game has the hallmarks of a great board game. Easy to learn, difficult to master. The basics? You’re the head of a family. You must keep the family alive and successful as it moves through history. You start in the copper age at the bottom of the social ladder with two pawns, a husband and wife on a wheel shape board that rotates counter-clockwise. At the bottom of the wheel is Poverty the crocodile, if your pawn gets dragged into Poverty, you’re dead. You get tokens by spending the work order token which moves you backwards to the pawn behind you on the wheel. The tokens you get match spaces on the board – brewing, masonry, and irrigation to start. Keep moving forward using tokens. When the game starts you pick a goal, invention, heroism, or social climbing. Collect chips along the wheel to advance your goal. At the same time, you need to keep the family line alive by having kids.
That’s just the beginning. Collect enough chips and you change the way the game is played. Invention changes one of the spaces and gives you a ton of tokens for it. Social climbing opens up the ring above you on the wheel. You have to decide how to raise your kids. You can educate them with tokens, or let them play. If you educate one, and let the other play they’ll be resentful when they grow up. Resentful translates into smashed tokens, or even hiring a witch to curse you when you start playing the next generation. If your kids like each other, you’ll get extra tokens from your siblings from time to time. Random events will happen, sometimes good, often bad, occasionally they just maintain the status quo. This seems like a lot, and it is. The game has a tutorial that holds your hand a bit through your first game.
My one sticking point is that the tutorial could stand to explain more. It misses out on mechanics like befriending neighbors through marriage and jealous rivals. It took quite a few games and a lot of experimentation to get comfortable. Hopefully the tutorial will get a little more attention from the development team before the title goes gold on June 7.
Beyond that, I’d love to see multiplayer. I’d love to play this on a physical table with friends at SPC Seminole Gamers meetings. I’d absolutely play this online, and couch co-op using Steam’s Big Screen (yes, it is coming to Steam.) It would work well with push multiplayer on iOS and Android. I see a wasted opportunity for cooperative and competitive gameplay between families rather than just working against faceless neighbors. I think the game could be rebalanced, but probably not on this short a schedule.
7 Grand Steps is a lot of fun, and I think it will appeal to fans of European board games. You can see a lot of the genes of that style in this game. At release it will cost $15, the beta preorder is currently $12. I will follow up with a review after June 7, in the meantime tell me what you think of the beta demo in the comments.