Published on February 3rd, 2016 | by Nicole Jekich0
Two Civilizations Duke it Out
Our Review of 7 Wonders: Duel
I have many fond gaming memories with 7 Wonders. I first caught sight of the game at a party and jumped into a full game of 7 players. I stumbled through my first game not completely understanding all the symbols or the intricate drafting strategies; but I was instantly a fan. This was a game that brought the satisfaction of a civilization building experience to a fluid card game that took just 30-45 minutes to play. 7 Wonders: Duel is a continuation of this great legacy of games. It is a standalone game and brings a more head-to-head conflict between two civilizations vying to be the most powerful.
Old Dog with New Tricks
The above pictured image is the complete set up for the first age. It is an interesting layout and players familiar with the 7 Wonders games will notice some similarities between the old and new game right away. The color cues, card types, resources, icons and general card layout are all the same, which makes jumping into a game a lot easier if you’re already familiar with 7 Wonders.
7 Wonders: Duel is a game focused on a larger scope as each player represents a vast empire. There are four large wonder cards in front of each player which represents the wonders that player can build over the entire game, which still lasts 3 ages. These are the same named 7 Wonders that players built in the first game; however each wonder has a different reward for building it than the original game. Another interesting rule is that only 7 wonders total can be built between the two players, which means one player will be getting shortchanged. I love this rule as players will need race to build their wonders first or else they may lose to opportunity and reward of one of their wonder.
The objective of 7 Wonders: Duel is still all about collecting the most victory points at the end of 3 ages. This 2 player game feels like a race to build your civilization and overwhelm your opponent before they do the same. I feel the 2 player experience has higher stakes unlike the full 7 player game. Also they way in which you draft cards in Duel is different. Each age will have a pyramid of cards laid out with rows of cards alternating face up and face down. Players will draft one card per turn from this public market to add to their tableau. Cards that are face down will flip face up if there are no cards covering it. This rule is a lot of fun and makes players think even more about their card choices. Taking a face up card could mean revealing something better for your opponent.
Also players don’t have to worry about who produces what resources. All resources are said to be available to all players during the game for 2 coins each. Players can build additional resource (those brown and gray cards) to produce that resources for free and as an added bonus each additional resource you produce makes it more expensive for players to buy that resource. I think the changes to resources production are a great improvement from the previous games where players had to rely on what others around them were building. You can still become resource starved in Duel by not producing enough resources or allowing your opponent to nab them all. Duel reinforces that players must be vigilant of what there opponent is building and keeping their civilization in balance between production, building, science and military.
Science works a little different in Duel too. There are 7 different scientific symbols in game and should a player ever match two of the same symbol in their tableau, they immediately gain a Progress token from the 5 that were randomly selected during the game. These Progress tokens are game changers and potentially game breakers depending on the situation. Progress tokens like Theology let you take another turn. Architecture lets a player build a wonder at a reduced 2-resource price. There are 10 Progress tokens in total but only 5 available each game.
Improved Scientific and Military Victory
7 Wonders: Duel takes place over 3 ages just the same at its predecessor unless one of two alternate win conditions are met. 7 Wonders: Duel introduces Scientific and Military victories that are separate from the victory point count. Once a player reaches either of these two victory conditions, the game ends immediately. The first victory is all about collecting those green science cards. Some gamers like myself never really paid much attention to collecting the science cards in the large 7 Wonders game–so long as one player didn’t get a hoard of them-I would casually turn them in for coins or use them to build my wonders. The challenge now is to collect 6 of the 7 unique symbols in the game. This task is very difficult to accomplish but is a great challenge for those that think they can sneak this victory from under their opponent’s nose.
For all you peace-loving civilizations out there, I have some bad news for you–you can’t ignore building up your military. Letting your opponent dominate the military openly will now lose you points, money and potentially the game. There is a tug of war track which sits between both players and each time a player adds military to their tableau, it pushes the military marker towards the opponent. If a player can push through their opponent’s 10 military slots and end in their opponent’s capital city, that player wins an immediate military victory.
Two Enter, One Leaves Victorious
There are a lot of gameplay nuances and options in 7 Wonders: Duel which makes it a very engaging 2 player game. Players have a lot of choice with which cards to drafts, when to build wonders and even which victory condition they wish to pursue. The game comes with more components than is needed for the basic game setup. It includes 12 wonders, 10 progress tokens, additional age cards and guild cards which players can randomly select at the start of the game and all these options gives Duel additional replayability. 7 Wonders: Duel is an amazing game and gives me even more satisfaction of building a booming civilization in less than an hour. I highly recommend this game for couples, new gamers and lovers of the 7 Wonders franchise.