Game: 7 Wonders: Duel
Publisher: Repos Production
Designer: Antoine Bauza & Bruno Cathala
The Roman empire at its peak was a sight to behold, controlling most of the what we now know as Europe. They had used a divide and conquer strategy to recruit the armies of captured nations and use them to take on the next nation, steamrolling all the forces ahead of them. At least that was the plan. As we all know the Egyptians had done the same with what we now know as Asia. Two empires clashed, only one would remain. Now if you’ll turn to page bird, bird, eye, then we can begin our lesson.
7 Wonders: Duel is a 2-player card game in which you attempt to have the greatest of the two vast kingdoms. You can achieve this by building a city of culture, devoting yourself to science, or simply invading your opponent’s land and making it yours. As you’d expect it takes a lot of inspiration from 7 Wonders but heavily modified to make it a lean, relatively quick two-player experience.
|The game set up for the start of the game, the supply of buildings is in the centre with some cards hidden. At the top is the army marker which displays how your armies are marching, at certain points they steal money from your opponent.|
Just like in the main game you will spend time acquiring cards to add to your kingdom, to add cards you may need to pay costs in terms of money or resources, however many cards have prerequisites buildings which mean that you can build them for free if you have the required card in your empire. If you don’t have enough of a resource then you can “trade” for it, in this case you pay 2 money, plus 1 for each resource of that type that your opponent has. So increasing your stone supplies beyond reasonable levels can work as a valid strategy as it makes your opponents cards more expensive.
Cards are colour coded, with brown/grey being resources, yellow being market cards that increase your income and often reduce trade costs, blue cards give you victory points, green cards give you science, purple cards are guilds which give end game scoring and red cards give your military strength. This is all inspired from the original 7-player game, but the functions are changed, for example military competence isn’t checked every era, instead it is end game scoring, however if you get enough then you win the game in your favour immediately.
The most inspired change from the original is that way that cards are chosen. Instead of drafting cards each era has a pyramidal construct of cards in the centre. Some of these cards are upright and visible while others are face down until available. A card can only be taken when it has no other cards on top of it, so you might be tempted to take a good card for yourself only to find out it reveals an even better card for your opponent. If none of the cards take your fancy then you can always use one for money by discarding it, or use it to build a wonder instead.
|The supply pile mid-game, cards can only be bought if there isn't a card on top of it. So in this case there are only actually 3 cards available.|
7 Wonders: Duel does a great job of translating a far bigger game into a condensed 2-player experience. It’s one of the more complex two player games that we regularly play, but still retains a good play time of ~45 minutes. I don’t feel that it quite lives up to the hype of the original game, perhaps because of the several ways you can end the game early which always feel a bit lacklustre. Sure you should be playing well enough to stop your opponent really getting carried away with science/war, but sometimes you cannot help but give your opponent the card they need to win. The main flaw that I can say about 7 Wonders: duel is that I’d rather be playing 7 Wonders , but while obvious, that’s probably an unfair comparison, if I look at it compared to other dedicated 2-player games then I can’t help singing it’s praises!