Race For The Galaxy but more so Dominion. Well, I was worried this year but I am happy to say that a game to rival these two modern classics has just been released right before the end of 2010. Antoine Bauza's 7 Wonders plays like a cross between RFTG and that great little Japanese filler Fairy Tale but manages to handle up to 7 players without jumping outside of it's 30-40 minute time frame. The mechanics in 7W are hardly original but are put together so well that the resulting experience is quite addictive and absorbing.
Many cards, especially in the first age, produce one or more of the 7 resources for you once they are played face-up to your tableau. Since you only start with one of these resources and most cards require certain resources to be played, er... "built", one often starts the game by building up resources. And this brings me to the first interesting little twist in the game. You can actually always purchase resources that your direct neighbours have available. So there is often exchanges of money as well as continuous appraisals of the cards laid by one's neighbouring cities. As well, certain cards provide discounts, extra coins, and some even lead to free plays of upcoming cards in later ages.
In a single game, everyone usually plays about 18 cards and all players play them at the same time. So the whole game is over fairly quickly. But that quickness does not imply a shallowness of play. There are many streams to victory in this great little game: heavy military red cards, green science cards, blue culture, or even building certain resources so your neighbours have to pay you tons. But unlike RFTG where one plays a relatively singular strategy, it seems that players have to construct a more well-rounded city by building some military for protection, resources to help with building and earning money, and then at the same time take advantage of the opportunities that are passed to them. In fact, the game feels a bit more like Agricola in that sense, just without all that agonizing, brain-burning pressure.
And herein lies the difficulty that some have with the game. For those who say it isn't deep, I think you're wrong. One can definitely learn the cards and their build patterns and be able to play quite well. But it really all depends what you are dealt and also what is passed to you. And I think this is what actually takes the game from good to great. Players require versatility with their choices and strategy as they don't have complete control of what cards they will end up seeing in their hands. You can plan for a certain card but in the end your neighbour may use it to build their monument or play it themselves. It makes the game feel a little more relaxed and, in my opinion, far more enjoyable.
Isla Dorada and I have high hopes) but given the play-time and awesome scalability, I think this is probably the best game of 2010. Buy it, I don't think you'll regret it.