Its a Wonderful World Review - Box Feature

It’s A Wonderful World Review, Strategy Tips and FAQ

Play Time: 30-60 Min / Players: 1-5 / Complexity: Medium / Age: 14+ we think 10+ / Publisher: La Boite de Jeu and Lucky Duck Games / Designer: Frederic Guerard

It’s A Wonderful World Ratings and Summary

Teen Rating
Parent Rating


Teen rating from our son (15).

It’s A Wonderful World is a satisfying and smooth experience with a simple rule set that plays quickly. Despite its simplicity it has plenty of depth and an excellent solo mode. The main draw back here is that it isn’t particularly thematic.



  • Very simple to learn
  • Plenty of depth for such a simple rule set
  • Can be played quickly
  • Components and in particular card quality are excellent
  • Scales well at all player counts with little down time
  • Plenty of replay value
  • Excellent solo mode, with fun scenarios to tackle.


  • Not particularly thematic
  • Luck of the card draw can have an impact on your strategy at times.

What You Will Find in Our It’s A Wonderful World Review

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I am a sucker for a good engine builder/tableau builder combo in games. Splendor, Terraforming Mars Ares Expedition and Race for the Galaxy are all games I really enjoy as a result. All play differently but are excellent. Throw in a great solo mode and a short play time and you have my attention. It’s A Wonderful World promises just that all wrapped up in a very simple rule set. This game has been around since 2019 but for some reason fell under the radar for me until late last year. Designer Frederic Guerard and publisher Lucky Duck Games have ticked a lot of boxes for me with the design of It’s A Wonderful World but does it all work as a package? I think so, in fact this is probably one of my favourite games right now, that’s a big call but I think it’s justified.

How to Play It’s A Wonderful World


Want to establish a grand empire and build developments that are the envy of your neighbours? Great, you have four rounds of play to do just that. The person with the most impressive empire, represented by the most points, wins.           

Set Up 

The set up in It’s a Wonderful World is quite quick but once you get used to the game, there are a few things you can skip that will speed things up even more.

To play you will lay out the central board, add resource cubes, military and financier tokens and the large deck of cards in their allocated spots. Finally, there is a turn tracker that goes at the top of the board.  

You then need to select an empire side that every player will use during the game. Side A is asymmetric and side B is the same for all players. I personally prefer side B as I think it allows more flexibility in choosing your strategy.

Now I have a tip for when you get used to playing the game, it will probably make you feel a little uneasy but trust me it works great. You can essentially get rid of the board and just dump all the coloured cubes and tokens in the middle of the table. ‘What not use the board? Mix all the pieces together? Really, are you nuts?’ I hope not, and yes, that’s what I do now unless I am teaching this to new players. As far as I know nothing bad has happened because of my reckless disregard for the setup in the rule book.

The bonus is that if you play this way you can essentially throw all the cubes and tokens in one big bag at the end, so clean up is quick too. ‘Wait won’t that mean mixing different coloured cubes together?’ Yes, that’s what I am saying.

The board does have its advantages when you are new to the game and want some prompts as to the order of production and round tracking but once you have that down it really isn’t needed.

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The design for this game is very streamlined, it seems there was an intentional effort to keep the mechanics smooth and simple. At a high level you will draft cards, plan developments for construction or to be recycled, and finally produce resources. Draft, plan, produce, and then repeat for four rounds, that’s it. The aim is to be efficient and get your empire humming quickly, you won’t have much time so make every round count.

The drafting phase works much like other games with closed card drafting, you will receive a hand of 7 cards, pick one and pass to the next player while simultaneously receiving a hand of cards. This will continue until there are no cards left to select.

Its a Wonderful World Review - Game in Play
The game in play, cards stacked above your empire card are constructed developments, cards to the right are under construction.

The trick to picking your cards is to try to build a strategy around a certain colour combination or token type (financiers or generals). Let me explain, if you want cards that will generate financiers, then you will likely need to build yellow developments. The catch is most yellow developments need a combination of grey and yellow resources, so you will likely also need grey cards.

Most strategies will require you to focus on a certain combination of resource colours and consequently that will determine the types and colours of cards you will need to target. There is a real balance to be struck around gaining cards that will give you production and cards that will generate a lot of points later in the game.  

The great thing is that if you really don’t see any cards available that fit with your strategy you can pick a card that will be useful if recycled for a particular resource type. This makes hate drafting a particularly viable strategy here, because you can usually get some sort of benefit from drafting a card even if you don’t intend to construct it.

Once you have your pool of cards to work with, players will then enter the planning phase. This is where you decide which cards to slate for production and which cards will be recycled for resources. This is a cool concept because when you recycle a card you can use the resources immediately to progress construction on a development. Should I hang on to my fountain of youth or recycle it to make a tank division? Sounds odd but there are all sorts of quirky developments in the deck and the thought of these odd situations makes me laugh occasionally. You might even come across Blackbeard’s treasure in the deck or robotic animals. Don’t ask me how they thematically contribute to your empire building needs, but they are there regardless.

If you plan carefully, you can have one or two resource producing developments up and running before you even begin the production phase of the game. That’s important because it will give you a production boost for the next phase. Did I mention you don’t have long to get your empire humming? Well, you don’t so any head start you can get in this game is important.

The really challenging decisions arise when you have a card that could yield some good points if you construct it later but recycling it now would give you the one resource cube you need to finish a development for an immediate resource boost. This game is full of trade-offs like this one where you need to balance competing priorities.

Once the planning phase is over you will use your constructed developments in the production phase to generate resources. There are five types of resources you can generate: materials (grey), energy (black), science (green), gold (yellow) and exploration (blue).

Each is produced in a sequence which is such a clever design choice. It means you can use resources generated immediately to construct development cards that could generate more resources in the same phase. You might use grey materials generated to complete your Research Centre which can then produce science in the same production round because it happens to occur after material production.

Its a Wonderful World Review - Board and Resources
The game board organizes resources in their production sequence.

This is where your smart choices in the planning phase can result in a bit of a chain reaction of developments built that trigger more resources that then allow you to build more developments. The combos here can be very satisfying, especially in later rounds. This is where the real fun is, watching your careful planning expand your empire rapidly in a single round is so satisfying.

Each development card constructed might provide you with more resource generating capacity or some immediate benefits in the form of financiers, generals or Krystallium which is a type of wild resource that can be substituted for any other resource type.

You can also receive financier or general tokens by way of a supremacy bonus if you happen to produce more of one of the resource types than anyone else. By themselves both token types will give you a point a piece, but they really shine when you have cards that apply multipliers to those points. In some games they can end up being your largest source of points.

The one thing you need to watch out for is not wasting any resources that you produce. If you have too much energy for example and can’t use it to help produce any of your development cards under production, you must store it on your empire card. The issue is that you don’t get access to any resources stored on your empire card until you have 5 there and they are converted to Krystallium. The 5 to 1 conversion ratio makes this quite a poor use of resources, so you are better off making sure you can use all the resources that you produce.

Once you have played four full rounds the game will end, and players will tally their points. The player with the most points wins.

Solo and 2 Payer Variants

The 2-player variant works much like the base game but instead of each player getting 7 cards, they get 10 in the drafting phase. There will still only be 7 cards drafted, leaving 3 in each hand to be discarded, that’s it.

The solo variant provides 6 different scenarios which have point targets to achieve. The game play remains the same as the core game except for the drafting and the supremacy bonus. The drafting for the solo variant involves setting up 8 sets of 5 card stacks. Each round a player will select two stacks of cards and has the option of keeping all the cards or sacrificing two cards to draw five new cards and keep one. The supremacy bonus is earned once more than 5 resources of a given type are produced.

It’s A Wonderful World Gameplay Experience  

When I first got It’s A Wonderful World, I played it daily and sometimes multiple times a day.  I was immediately hooked. There wasn’t much of a learning curve here and the game played quick enough I could get it to the table often. The big draw card was that although I could whip through a game in 30 minutes (or less if playing solo), it felt like a far more satisfying experience than the quick play time would suggest. Meaningful decisions, challenging trade-offs, satisfying combos and a super streamlined rule set all come together masterfully.

Its a Wonderful World Review - Empire Card
Each empire card has an asymmetric side (A) and a generic side (B).

It’s the sort of game that works well at any player count because so much of it involves simultaneous play so down time is kept to a minimum. The solo mode is excellent, but I’ll get to that a little later.

At higher player counts you are likely to see far more cards in the pool giving you a broader selection to choose from, but it also increases competition to win the supremacy bonuses. At lower player counts there is less competition for the supremacy bonuses making these a more viable pathway to big points. To be clear, I would happily play at any player count, yes play time increases a bit at higher player counts but down time is kept low.

I also love the fact that resources are generated sequentially, I think this is one of my favourite aspects of the game. Figuring out the order in which you want to complete developments to generate a cascading chain of production and developments is so satisfying.

In a game with only four rounds to play it is amazing what you can achieve if you plan well. Part of this is in the clever card design, there are cards that will provide you with instant rewards and others that will multiply your resource production based on the cards in your empire. It’s like the plan here was something along the lines of…’ok so we want to make this game snappy, but we also want to cram in as much fuel as possible for people to turbo charge their empires quickly, can we cram it all into 4 rounds? Sure!’.

I always make a point of being open with any potential negatives in my reviews, sometimes they may not be a big deal to me but if I think they may be to other people I include them. This review is one example where my gripes are very minor, at least to me, but I will write about them anyway to make sure you are well equipped with a balanced view.

Its a Wonderful World Review - Player Empire Cards and Construction Area
Choosing a card colour combinations carefully to fit your strategy is important.

One thing that some people may not like is the luck involved in the card drafting phase, the deck is randomised, and you may get lucky early game with some particularly useful and flexible cards. I don’t think this breaks the game and I have seldom felt like a bad starting hand in the draft has put me at a huge disadvantage.

Although I do get excited when I can draft some good cheap production cards early and get a small head start. Cards like the Recycling Plant are really valuable early game, they are cheap which means you can easily produce these first round and grant 2 grey resources. The great thing is that grey and black resources are generally useful regardless of your strategy, so they provide some nice flexibility.

The other thing to be aware of is that while there is interaction in this game, it is restricted to card drafting and competing for resource bonuses. For me this is enough, especially given hate drafting is so viable. My son normally likes games where your abilities can directly impact your opponents and so for him this is an issue. With this game when it comes to card abilities there really isn’t anything that can mess with your opponents or impact them in any way, your empire is safe from any tampering once you have drafted the cards.  

Thoughts on It’s a Wonderful World Solo Experience

I have already explained how the solo mode works earlier so I won’t go over this again, instead I’ll share my thoughts on the experience. For me the game translates surprisingly well to solo play. I had my doubts given card drafting is such a big aspect of the game, but I think the solution to providing essentially a solo draft is really clever. You still get a limited pool of cards to use but the clever part is that you can trade two cards to be able to see more cards, the trade off is that you are essentially sacrificing a card. This works well and provides some nice decisions during the draft phase.

The other elements of the core game translate directly to solo nicely. I don’t really feel like I am missing out on much at all playing solo. The scenarios provided are challenging and require you to hit certain points targets but importantly they also require you to build certain developments. Each has a slightly different focus and provides a good opportunity to explore different strategies.

The best part of all is that the game is just such a breeze to set up and play when you don’t have much time. There aren’t many solo games I can setup and play in 20-30 minutes and get this much satisfaction out of.


Its a Wonderful World Review - Development Card
There is a diverse range of cards on offer and the illustrations are nicely done.

In the box you will get 150 development cards, resource cubes, character tokens, 5 empire cards and a two-part board. Let me start with the development cards, the card quality here is amazing. I played this game daily when I first got it, sometimes multiple times a day. Now after 5 months the cards still look new. I have no desire to sleeve these and feel like they would hold up well for a long time.

There is also a great deal of variety in the cards, there are some more common cards with multiple copies but there is enough variety here that each game will offer up new combinations and choices to keep things interesting. I also love the layout on the cards, it’s clean and easy to see all the information you need without needing to reference the rule book for icons.

The board is set out nicely to make it easy to get to grips with the game. It conveniently provides spaces for the resources in their specified order, a turn tracker and spots for the various tokens and the card deck. The only thing is once you get used to the rules you won’t really need it and can play without.

The artwork by Anthony Wolff is really well done and the pictures fit the theme of the card nicely. Although some of these cards as I mentioned earlier are a little quirky, I think that is actually a good thing. When I first started playing this game, I stopped occasionally to admire the variety in the deck and the cool concepts in the cards, like for example being able to build a saucer squadron or discover the lost city of Atlantis. Although I have to admit after a while the only thing that registered was the card abilities.

Overall, the component quality here is excellent.


It won’t be a surprise to you that I love this game, but if there is a weak point here it is probably the theme. Some people may be expecting a Christmas theme here given how close the title is to a certain famous Christmas movie, or a musical theme, but it isn’t the case. It’s A Wonderful World is meant to be an empire building game although it doesn’t feel that way.

Often, I find myself so caught up in building my resource engine that the cards could literally represent anything, and it wouldn’t really matter to me. It feels like they have thrown the kitchen sink into the deck in terms of card variety, it is just so diverse.

At first it may seem a little random but there is an intended theme for each card type. The blue cards for example, are meant to represent your empire’s discoveries, black is its military, green its scientific achievements etc. So, there is some structure here, but aside from the cards looking cool, it doesn’t really feel like a particularly thematic game. For me this isn’t a big issue because I just adore the gameplay here, but if you need a strong theme this game may not be for you. My son for example isn’t a fan of It’s a Wonderful World because to him it seems a little like just pushing cubes around without a strong theme.

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Final Thoughts on It’s A Wonderful World  

Overall, It’s A Wonderful World is just an incredibly smooth game that feels like it has the essential mechanics but nothing superfluous. It leads to a quick and satisfying experience with plenty of depth and replay value. It also scales so well at any player count. If you are a fan of engine building games and want something snappy but satisfying, this game is likely to hit the spot. If you like a strong theme in your games this is likely to be an issue here as the game feels more abstract than thematic.

My last word on this incredible game is that I am a bit confused as to how I hadn’t heard more about it in the past, it seems to have largely gone under the radar which I think is a real shame as it is just so enjoyable.

Is It’s A Wonderful World easy to learn? Yes, very easy to learn.

What will It’s A Wonderful World teach my kids?  There are so many great learning opportunities here, for one planning ahead is critical to ensure you maximise your use of scarce resources, the other aspect is staying flexible to the opportunities available in the draft.    

What age is appropriate for It’s A Wonderful World?   The box says 14+ but I think given how simple the gameplay is 10+ would be safe.

Does It’s A Wonderful World have good replay value?  Great replay value due to the large variety of cards available.

We hope you enjoyed our It’s A Wonderful World review. If you have any more questions or just want to share your thoughts on this game please leave a comment below, or get in touch through our contact page.

About the Authors

We are parents who love board gaming. We have three children and have been enjoying board games as a family ever since we had our first child. We share our real unbiased experiences and opinions on board games so you can decide if they are right for your family. We also write guides and articles to help you get the most out of your family game time. 

Expansions and Variations

As at the time of writing here are the available game expansions:

  • It’s A Wonderful World: Corruption & Ascension – This expansion offers a new deck of cards and the concept of pair scoring and corruption. It expands the player count to 7.
  • It’s A Wonderful World: War or Peace – This expansion introduces a scripted campaign with 5 scenarios which allows players to tip the story towards either peace or world war.
  • It’s A Wonderful World: Leisure & Decadence – This is the second campaign for the base game.  It includes secret boxes that unlock hidden content as the campaign progresses.

There is currently only one game variant called It’s A Wonderful Kingdom – This is a solo and 2 player only version of the game that does not require the base game. This game offers more interaction and a bluffing mechanism as well as different game modules.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I use red Krystallium resources any time?

Yes, once you have these you can place them any time.

Do I lose all of the resources already on a construction card if I decide to discard it?

Yes, but you will gain the recycled resource which will go directly to your empire card.

Can you get the supremacy bonus if you are tied equal for most production with another player?

My read of the rule book is you must have the single most of the resource which to me means that you must have more than any other player. My interpretation is that in a tie no one gets the bonus.

Do generals and financiers earn any points even if you have not constructed a development that provides multipliers for these tokens?

Yes, without any other modifiers each of these tokens is worth 1 point.

Can players use a mix of side A and B empire cards during a game?

No, every player must use the same side.

For the solo game is there any limit to how many times cards can be recycled for more cards?

The only limit is the number of remaining cards in your hand. As long as you have two cards in hand you can trade them for 5 more cards from the deck to keep 1. The downside of course is that the more times you do this, the fewer cards you will have left.

Why do some development cards have financier or general symbols underneath the construction resource costs?

This means you need to spend one of these tokens for each symbol as well as the listed resources to construct the development card.

Is there a limit to how many development cards can be under construction at the same time?

No. You can have as many development cards as you like under construction.

Strategy Tips

  • Match you focus on coloured cards to your strategy – As I mentioned earlier there is a broad pattern to the colours of the cards and what they require to build them. Yellow cards usually require a combination of grey and yellow resources to build, they also tend to provide financiers. Blue cards usually require blue resources to build but black cards also provide blue resources, they also tend to provide generals. Green cards normally require a broader range of resource colours and are more flexible.
  • Focus on generals or financiers in low player count games – For solo or two player games it is far more viable focusing on either generals or financiers because the supremacy bonuses are easier to get with less competition. When you do this ensure you look for cards that provide multipliers for these tokens to boost your end game points.
  • Balance production developments with point scoring developments – It is easy to get so focused on getting your production engine going that you can neglect the whole point of the game, which is generating points. This was a big issue for me when I first started, so make sure that you have a good balance of cards that allow you to generate big points for your strategy.
  • Sequence construction to maximise resource production – The order in which you build development matters, if you can get a development built before its production type triggers in the production phase then you can get the resources in the first turn you construct it.
  • Pay attention to your opponent’s strategy – In this game hate drafting is very viable because you can recycle cards for the resource bonus if you don’t want to construct them. If you notice your opponent is for example focusing on blue cards and a blue point multiplier development is in your hand, denying your opponent this card could be your best option if there isn’t anything that will yield you more points available.
  • Don’t be afraid of recycling most of your cards in the first round – It is critical to jump start your engine early, getting a cheap production card or two built in the first round is critical. Don’t be afraid of recycling 3 or 4 of your starting cards if it means you can get an early jump on your production.
  • Producing resources you can’t spend is not worth it – The 5-1 exchange ratio for Krystallium makes it not worth your while placing resources on your empire unless you can’t avoid it. Plan ahead to ensure you can spend resources on developments each turn instead of having to divert to your empire card.
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