When I play and review tabletop games, I try to figure out what type of alcoholic drink thematically pairs with them. When I think of a game like 7 Wonders—I think of an alternate history of the old world. At first, I was going to pair this game with a barley wine, but then I thought about what most people drank during the time of Ancient Greece and Rome: white wine.
Truth is, 7 Wonders blends many cultural landmarks, not just that of Ancient Greece and Rome, but also that of the Sumerians, Egyptians, and Phoenicians. These are all different peoples who lived along the Mediterranean Sea. The main reason that I chose white wine is because I’m not much of a wine drinker and I thought that I’d give it a shot. (It wasn’t bad!)
What’s so good about this game?
As a history major (and lover), a game like 7 Wonders intrigues me. As a tabletop gamer, the mechanics of 7 Wonders keep me engaged. As a wine-drinking amateur, I found the white wine we had, a Pinot Grigio called Chloe, to be semi-sweet and smooth.
7 Wonders Duel is a two-player only reimagining of the game 7 Wonders. The spirit of 7 Wonders is definitely there in Duel, but mechanics are streamlined and meant to only work for two players.
What are the differences between the original 7 Wonders game and Duel?
There are a lot of similarities between the two: you take a card and construct the building on it (granted you have the resources at hand or can trade for them), discard it for sweet coin, or use it to construct a Wonder.
Duel has a few different ways for you to win:
- Military supremacy—move a military tracker all the way to your opponent’s space
- Scientific supremacy—collect six out of seven scientific symbols
- Civilian Victory—after three ages of card drawing have passed, whomever has the most victory points wins
There are other major differences between 7 Wonders and its two-player adaptation. For one, drawing mechanics are different—you arrange the cards in a special pattern for each age, with certain cards face-down or face-up. (You flip over face-down cards when they become uncovered.) You can only draw cards from the pattern which aren’t partially covered.
Secondly, the trading mechanic works a little differently in Duel. Players pay two coins plus the number of brown or grey cards that their opponent has in order to trade for a resource. There are yellow card buildings that players can employ which lock trading at one coin. (You can see two of them in the image above.)
Wonders also work differently: each player draws four Wonders at the beginning of the game and they can only construct seven Wonders between them—it’s a race for players to construct their anachronistic attractions!
What’s with those little tokens some of the cards?
That’s a part of the Pantheon expansion! In Age I you activate gods from the pantheons of five different ancient civilizations (the Phoenicians, Mesopotamians, Egyptians, Romans, and Grecians).
- Age I—religious tokens trigger a god to placed in a slot on the pantheon
- Ages II & III—players pay coins to activate a god’s single-use ability
So who won?
My opponent beat me with a rare military victory! When you construct military buildings, you move the military token (that bright red piece on that track of oval-shaped spaces in the image above) one space toward your opponent’s city. If you move it all the way to the end, you win.
Typically, players are able to last out all three ages and compare their victory points, but not this time. My opponent had just a few spaces left to a military victory and I thought that they wouldn’t be able to build any new military buildings, but I was wrong!
What’s your verdict on 7 Wonders Duel?
I love this game. It captures the card generating mechanics and the ancient city development that you’d find in a game like Civilization, while keeping gameplay to a tight 45-60 minute. The Pantheon expansion adds more opportunities for you to change the balance of power in your favor.
I’ll definitely bring 7 Wonders Duel back to the table.