Tuesday, May 17, 2016

My review and playthrough (with my wife) of 7 Wonders: Duel

Telling you about the game:

This is a two player, roughly 30 minutes (we went one hour due to teaching my wife) ages 10 and up game. This is a card drawing, civilization leading, construction oriented, paying attention to symbols,game. You represent one civilization and its capital, growing through raw materials (brown cards), specialized materials (grey cards) merchants and business (yellow cards), civics(blue cards), military (red cards), science (green cards), and bonuses (purple cards).

Through the drawing of cards you will either build the card, as a normal building, sell the card for money, or sacrifice the card to build a wonder. All of this will constitute a city. The game carries out over 3 ages, with the last one not only being the possible ending, but the only place where you will see the bonus purple cards (3 of them) known as the Guilds. These are powerful cards that can help drive up your resources instantly and grant victory points in the end.

There are three types of victories that can be achieved in this game. There is the Military, Scientific, and Civilian Victories. First, to address Military power between the two cities, is a track that has a neutral zone (balance of power) and then can shift 8 additional spaces one way or 8 additional spaces the other. If one player is able to drive the military marker all the way down one side against the other player, not only will they inflict money losses on the opponent but either score victory points and/or achieve complete victory by sacking the opponent's capital. The scientific victory consists of obtaining six out of the seven scientific symbols. Gaining a duplicate symbol along the way allows you to take a Progress token, which can be in the form of instant money, victory points, discounts to building wonders and more. The seven symbols represent advancements such as the wheel, weight scales, the sun dial, and others. The civilian victory is only if the other two have not been achieved, and then all victory points from all sources are totaled up and the highest score is the winner (in the case of a tie the person with the highest amount of points from their civilian cards (blue) wins.

The ages play out as each player has a chance of roughly playing 10 cards, before going to the next age. You have Wonders to choose from. Each player will end up having four through this process, a stack of 12 shuffled, draw four with one player taking one, then the other player taking two, and the first playing takes the remaining of the four. Then this is reversed for the players with a second batch of four. The remaining four will be out of the game. As you sacrifice cards to build these wonders (also having the resources needed) you will want to be the first one to build three of your four Wonders, for if you do, you will be able to lock out the potential of the other player building their fourth Wonder (only seven of the eight are allowed to be built).

On the cards you will find at the top the ability they grant, on the top left you will find their cost to be built, if there is nothing there then the card is built for free. Also if there is a symbol in white, such as a column,tear, sword, etc. This denotes that it is built for free if you have the corresponding card to match. You will know this if the white symbol to match is on a card's top right. An example of this is the card Garrison with a sword icon in white on its top right, and allows you to freely build Barracks if you draw the card.

This brings us to a very important aspect of drawing cards in this game. Each age has a formation that you lay the cards out in, some are face up, and others are face down. Some of these cards will be locked down, and not available until you free them, by removing the cards that pin part of them down. This creates another risk/reward system, as you might go for what truly helps you, but may free up cards that are of benefit to your opponent, and you won't even know until they are revealed. 

The other thing to note is that you can, or may have to sell a card. The base money you will receive is 2 plus however many yellow cards you have in play. If you have none then two + zero means you get two gold.

You may find yourself short of resources, you may need one more brick, so you must check your opponent first, and they have one. So here is the equation for each resource you are missing, two + the amount of the resource the opponent has, so in this case for each brick you need you pay two +one for a total of three. If you needed two brick it would be six total. If they have none, then you are paying two + zero for each brick you need.

The setup of the game:

Get the board out, and between the players. Get the Military token on it, in the neutral zone, and place the broken coin tokens on the outer two sectors on each side (the broken coin 5 will be closest to each city, and then one step in will be the broken coin 2). Shuffle the ten Progress tokens, and draw 5 at random to be in the game, placed on the five corresponding circles above the military track. The others go back to the box. Each player will receive 7 coins to start with.

How did our game go?

Steph had:
Blue-Senate, Gardens, Statue, Theater, Baths
Red-Walls, Barracks, Stable
Brown-Clay Pit, Lumber Yard, Stone Pit
Yellow-Armory, Port, Forum, Clay Reserve, Tavern
Green-Observatory, Scriptorium, Workshop (3 separate science icons)
Purple-Builders Guild, Merchants Guild
Wonders-The Mausoleum (sacrificed Circus), The Great Lighthouse (sacrificed Laboratory), The Temple of Artemis (sacrificed Horse Breeders), and Circus Maximus (sacrificed Archery Range)

I had:
Blue-Town Hall, Pantheon, Obelisk, Tribunal
Red-Arsenal, Fortifications, Parade Ground, Guard Tower
Brown-Shelf Quarry, Quarry, Sawmill, Logging Camp, Brickyard, Clay Pool
Yellow-Chamber of Commerce, Lighthouse, Wood Reserve
Green- Academy, Library, Apothecary, Dispensary, Pharmacist, I had 4 separate icons and one was duplicated.
Grey-Drying Room, Glassworks
Purple-Shipowners Guild
Wonders- The Great Library (sacrificed Arena), The Hanging Gardens (sacrificed Rostrum), and Piraeus (sacrificed Temple)
Progress-Architecture, Law

I gained 5 victory and hit her for 2 coins due to my Military position against her. Unclaimed Progress were Philosophy, Strategy, Economy, and Urbanism. Other discards were Stone Reserve, Press, Customs House, School, Siege Workshop, and Courthouse.

I won 66 to her 59, as we both agreed the Military advantage towards the end is what gave me the upper hand.

Final Thoughts:

It was a lot of fun for the both of us. It took a little bit of time to learn, a lot of parts in play, but still easy to play. It has a good balance of luck vs skill. It captures the building a civilization theme beautifully. The game is visually pleasing, and even if you lose, it feels like you created a civilization.

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Thank you so much and Keep Gaming On!

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