14 April 2016

7 Wonders - Duel (boardgame review)

This is a completely new game that just came out and I saw it by accident and picked it up on the go while shopping other games. The reason I picked it up was that this is a reworked 2-player only version of 7 Wonders. And I like 7 Wonders, you can read my review of that game HERE , but at the same time as so often happens you tend to want to play "meatier" games with your group. And playing the original version with 2 players, while supported to some extent with special rules, was lacking as you were really playing 1vs1 and shared a common 3rd player city that you took turns in controlling.

In 7 Wonders Duel that has been fixed, and it works perfect!  And besides making it work for two players the designers made some new choices that I really like. For instance, the drafting of cards is not present in the same way that it was in the original game, you don't pass a stack of cards back and forth picking 1 card at a time. Instead you have something of a "tech tree" with some cards facing up, some cards facing down, and cards overlap each other so that you have to pick "unlocked" cards first.

The idea is just like with the drafting, that players take turns in picking 1 card at a time - paying money or resources to build or play the card. However, I like this over drafting cards a LOT more simply because it feels less random and it forces you to be a bit more strategic with your "unlocks". Oftentimes you want your opponent to unlock cards that you want, or force him to pick cards that he has no use of or can't afford. It's also such a perfect and easy replacement for the drafting that I could not be more happy.

Another new thing is that the 2-player version of the game has been streamlined on some accounts, tech buildings no longer create a long chain of bonus points. Instead you get a "development token" for every 2 matching tech cards. Development tokens are randomly selected at the start of the game and can give you a variety of bonus effects or additional points by the end of the game. Building chains are still in place just like in the original 7 Wonders, if you have building A you can get building B for free. However making the connection between buildings have been made easier with printed on symbols so that cards that belong together are impossible to miss.

The last two three changes are expanded rules for military power and reworked rules for trading and for building wonders.

7 Wonders Duel introduces a military power track that replaces the combat feature of the original game. Players keep track of the highest military power throughout the game, shifting the token back
and forth. Once the token crosses certain points on the track the weaker player loses a bit of money - while the stronger player gets bonus points for military might at the end of the game depending on where he ends up on the track.  You can also end the game by completely annihilating your opponent, when the military marker reaches the end of the track - this has not happened in all of our games so far but it has been very close once. So you can't completely ignore military buildings in this game.

Trading has been reworked, players do not trade with each other any longer but instead buy resources from the bank. The way it works is  that you pay 2 gold for each missing resource. Should your opponent have the resource you are missing in his city - by means of resource cards - you have to pay 2 gold + 1 gold for each symbol of the missing resource that your opponent owns. For instance if you lack stone and want to buy 2 stone, and your opponent has 2 stone cards - you have to pay 2+2 gold for EACH stone.

Finally the building of Wonders has also been overhauled. In the original game each player has one randomly picked wonder which is made up of 3 build levels where you score points and get bonuses as you finish each level. In 7 Wonders Duel players instead pick 4 wonders each at the start of the game in a sequence depending on who is the first player. You can then build all of your wonders during the game, but there can never be more than 7 finished wonders at any time (meaning one player may end up with an unfinished wonder) - thus playing on the name of the game - 7 Wonders.

The wonders are single step buildings that require more resources than your regular buildings, but they no longer, individually at least, score a ton of points. Instead, you often build wonders to benefit from their bonus features, such as being able to play two turns in a row, scrap a resource card in your opponents city, increase military might, get a lot of cash instantly, get development tokens etc.

You could argue, and I would agree, that the building of wonders have been simplified to the extent that the game does no longer revolve around them. But on the other hand, all other aspects of the game have been improved and made to work for two players so I'm super happy with this game and how it plays. You can easily dish out 2 games in an hour, and it provides lot more exciting and tense gameplay for me than the original version.  Caroline and I both love this game and I highly recommend it to anyone who has a liking for 7 Wonders. This is a great little variant.

Final note about the game components. They are of equal quality to the original, however everything is a lot smaller. The wonders are the size of regular cards from the original game while buildings/resources are small euro card size. The cards are however just a tad to big to fit into the card sleeves provided by Fantasy Flight Games and similar manufacturer (cards that would normally fit games like X-wing, Arkham Horror etc. You may want to find card sleeves that fit so that you don't ruin these little cards when shuffling the decks in between games.

7 Wonders Duel gets a 9/10, I like it more than the original game.

1 comment:

  1. It is a great game. I found it a couple of months ago and it became an instant hit.


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