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Subject: What's not to like about 7 Wonders: Duel? rss

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B. Perry
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My reviews provide a feel of the game with a brief overview. For more in-depth looks, I also recommend reading the rules and checking out some video reviews.

The Brief
7 Wonders: Duel builds upon its predecessor's legacy with an alluring new experience for two players.

Gameplay Overview
Players take turns choosing cards, which are added to their civilization or otherwise used to amass points over three rounds, or "ages".

Before the first round, players draft 8 Wonder cards (4 apiece). Each round, 20 cards are dealt to form a mahjong-like pattern, alternative face-up and face-down rows. Each turn, players choose a card that is not partially covered by another and flips any newly uncovered cards face-up. Chosen cards are added to the player's civilization, used to build one of the player's wonders, or discarded for coins. Cards and Wonders bestow resources, points, and sometimes new abilities. The round ends when all card have been chosen. After three rounds, the player with the most points wins.

Comparisons to the game's bigger brother, 7 Wonders, are inevitable. Although the symbology is largely the same, many aspects of the gameplay are quite different. Both games operate in the 7 Wonders "universe", but 7 Wonders: Duel has been designed specifically for two players. Many of the differences are quite prominent:

• Gameplay revolves around mahjong-like card selection, rather than drafting.
• Players purchase resources from the bank rather than from their opponent, but resource price increases by how many resources the opponent produces.
• Military (red cards) is a sliding scale instead of a series of conflicts. The scale grants points, takes coins away from the opponents, and grants an instant game win at the scale's far end.
• Science (green cards) is reworked: Each pair of matching symbols bestow a special ability. Collecting six different symbols grants an instant victory, no math required.
• The number of coins gained by discarding a card increases with the number of yellow cards owned.
• No dummy player is required.

What's not to like?
d10-1 After several plays, some decisions may seem more obvious, especially in the third age.
d10-2 Face-down cards introduce additional luck to the game.

What's to like?
d10-1 Although helpful, no familiarity with the original 7 Wonders is required. The game stands on its own merits.
d10-2 The science bonus abilities feel powerful without being overpowered.
d10-3 The military tug-of-war mechanism fits its theme well.
d10-4 The order in which cards are chosen and others cards are uncovered adds a strategic element.
d10-5 Because all (face-up) cards are public knowledge, explaining the game to new players is easier and new players can openly ask about icons.
d10-6 Face-down cards add some suspense to the card selection process.
d10-7 Drafting Wonders and the mahjong-style setup significantly boost replayability.
d10-8 Iconography will be familiar to 7 Wonders fans.

Conclusion
7 Wonders: Duel takes the feel and excitement of its acclaimed older brother and delivers tweaks and improvements for a two player experience that really shines. While I've seen shortened game wins through science and military, these victories seem to occur only when one player neglects either track for too long. Fortunately, the game also rewards players for military and science prowess, even if they don't progress to an automatic win.

While it certainly won't replace the multiplayer niche of its predecessor, 7 Wonders: Duel definitely eschews the multiplayer solitaire complaint and provides a great game for two players.


Please check out my other reviews: What's not to like about Kayvon's reviews?
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Lars Wagner Hansen
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Kayvon wrote:
a mahjong-like pattern
There are no such patterns in mah-jong
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Russ Williams
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l-hansen wrote:
Kayvon wrote:
a mahjong-like pattern
There are no such patterns in mah-jong
The popular computer solitaire puzzles called mahjong where you pull away tiles from a stack. Not the game.
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Matthew Sanchez
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Kayvon wrote:

After several plays, some decisions may seem more obvious, especially in the third age.
do the decisions become easier because you know the options and can target cards throughout the game (good thing) or the same because some cards are better than others (bad thing)



Strategy vs Imbalance.
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B. Perry
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They become easier because some cards are clearly more beneficial for you than others at the end game. It's a minor complaint, really, because it also means the games moves faster at that point.
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Matthew Sanchez
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Kayvon wrote:
They become easier because some cards a clearly more beneficial for you than others at the end game. It's a minor complaint, really, because it also means the games moves faster at that point.

Is it obvious what the other person whats (for an experienced player)? so I can balance getting my best cards with stopping them from getting their best?
 
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B. Perry
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It's generally obvious what the other person should want. There's no hidden information (except face-down cards, hidden to both players), so you can tell what will most benefit each other.

It's less obvious how to stop them from getting it sometimes. You want to be careful not to uncover certain cards on your turn, allowing your opponent to take those cards. And if you're really clever, you can complete a wonder with a "take another turn" ability if you see that you can't otherwise prevent your opponent from taking the card he wants.

I do want to reemphasize that the negative bullet points are very minor gripes. I had a hard time finding things I didn't like about the game.
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R. O. Schaefer
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Thx for the review!

Kayvon wrote:
I had a hard time finding things I didn't like about the game.
But if so: Why did you choose that title? I did expect something more negative then (not that I wanted too - I really like the game). Or is this title part of a series?

Edit: I should have red the footnote more carefully. Obviously there are other reviews with that title written by you. But I'm still interested to hear about the motivation for this specific headline.
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B. Perry
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The title is part of a series. The saying "what's not to like" is commonly used to express approval or satisfaction (BGG won't let me link to Google's definition, but feel free to search it yourself), so it's a play on words between "what I didn't like" and "I liked everything".
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R. O. Schaefer
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Ah, now I see. Stupid me - language barrier, sort of. Sorry. But now as you write it I understand it perfectly. You could say this in a similar way in german. So it was more about me not reading carefully enough ;-)
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Gerald Rüscher
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Since you're specifically asking what's not to like:

We played 7 Wonders Duel 4 times now. The first two games were really great but in games 3 and 4 something strange happened: in both games, the cards in era 1 and 2 came in such an order, that basically one player managed to get most of the production cards. In both games at the end of era 2, the production capacity of player A was three times larger than of player B.

If this happens to you (i.e. you are player B) you have a problem because you literally will not be able to afford any of the more advanced cards. Even buying cards with money won't work because buying resources owned by your opponent is insanely expensive.

Bottom line: I still like this game somehow but it definitely CAN break in a sense that the outcome will be pretty much clear at the end of era 2.
 
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R. O. Schaefer
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gruescher wrote:
Even buying cards with money won't work because buying resources owned by your opponent is insanely expensive.
There is already a similar discussion going on:
http://boardgamegeek.com/thread/1467326/balance-problem

Just to recap one point: There are yellow cards that let you buy resources for just 1$ regardless opponent's production. It's highly unlikely he will get those too in addition to his resources - and btw they are not so useful for him.

For the resource poor player they are saving money in two ways:
- paying less for the resource obviously
- adding up your total of yellow cards and strengthen discarding (in fact I like to take at least one yellow card early to make discards easier)

There might be a lot of discarding in that game. This is one point where I can see these discussions starting: people are used to a discard as a somewhat inferior move from regular 7 wonders and shy away from it. But you don't have to!

If you don't get access to these cards and resources neither there is something strange going on in your games as to who opens up how many face down cards for the opponent and when.
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B. Perry
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I've been on both sides of that particular situation. The game still works. I won a game yesterday in which I only managed to produce just one or two resources. I discarded a lot of cards for points money, gained a science ability to make blue (point) cards cheaper, and managed to collect most of the blue cards for a solid victory.

I think focusing on one type of card can be a valid strategy, be it production, science, or military. If your opponent lets you do that, hopefully he's playing his own (winning) strategy.

Edit: Discarded for gold, not points
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Alan Kwan
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russ wrote:
l-hansen wrote:
Kayvon wrote:
a mahjong-like pattern
There are no such patterns in mah-jong
The popular computer solitaire puzzles called mahjong where you pull away tiles from a stack. Not the game.
The layout used in this game resembles that used in a popular playing-card solitaire. There is no reason at all to make any reference to mahjong, unless you know nothing about playing cards.
 
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Russ Williams
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Alan Kwan wrote:
russ wrote:
l-hansen wrote:
Kayvon wrote:
a mahjong-like pattern
There are no such patterns in mah-jong
The popular computer solitaire puzzles called mahjong where you pull away tiles from a stack. Not the game.
The layout used in this game resembles that used in a popular playing-card solitaire. There is no reason at all to make any reference to mahjong, unless you know nothing about playing cards.
The layout used in this game also resembles that used in a popular genre of software puzzles (goofily called Mahjong only because they use the same tiles as the game Mahjong).

E.g. https://duckduckgo.com/?q=mahjong&t=ffsb&iax=1&ia=images shows more images of the software puzzle than of the traditional game. Like it or not, "Mahjong" is recognizable as that software puzzle for many people.
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John Sweeney
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The game you are referring to is actually called Shanghai. It uses Mahjong tiles. Call it Mahjong Shanghai to differentiate if you must. But it is like calling Snap a form of Bridge just because they use the same components.

And yes I agree that the original fault lies with the people who sell Shanghai versions and call them Mahjong. But on this site I would hope people would know better :-)
 
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Russ Williams
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johnthesweeney wrote:
The game you are referring to is actually called Shanghai. It uses Mahjong tiles. Call it Mahjong Shanghai to differentiate if you must. But it is like calling Snap a form of Bridge just because they use the same components.

And yes I agree that the original fault lies with the people who sell Shanghai versions and call them Mahjong. But on this site I would hope people would know better :-)
I hope I made clear that I was not defending the name of the puzzle/computer program, just noting that it is very clearly established and commonly used.

FWIW this history says that the original name of the computer game was "Mah-Jongg", not "Shanghai":
Computer game history

The computer game was originally created by Brodie Lockard in 1981 on the PLATO system and named Mah-Jongg after the game that uses the same tiles for play. Lockard claims that it was based on a centuries-old Chinese game called "the Turtle".[4] There is a children's game in China named 拆牌龜 ("Demolish the Tile Turtle") of unknown age.[5] The computer game was released for free and was played using a CDC-721 touch screen terminal. Control Data Corporation released a new version as a paid online game in 1983. The first version remained available for free.
The Mahjongg game bundled with GNOME.

However, it was Activision's release of Shanghai in 1986 for the Amiga Computer, Macintosh and Apple IIgs that popularised the game.
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Erwin Anciano
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gruescher wrote:
Since you're specifically asking what's not to like:

We played 7 Wonders Duel 4 times now. The first two games were really great but in games 3 and 4 something strange happened: in both games, the cards in era 1 and 2 came in such an order, that basically one player managed to get most of the production cards. In both games at the end of era 2, the production capacity of player A was three times larger than of player B.

If this happens to you (i.e. you are player B) you have a problem because you literally will not be able to afford any of the more advanced cards. Even buying cards with money won't work because buying resources owned by your opponent is insanely expensive.

Bottom line: I still like this game somehow but it definitely CAN break in a sense that the outcome will be pretty much clear at the end of era 2.
If this happens you can easily just get yellow cards and all your problems are solved. Of course, you need to know what you are doing... this game is not idiot proof. It rewards skill and knowledge. Which is as it should be.
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Dan Grant
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I personally find the "After several plays, some decisions may seem more obvious, especially in the third age." complaint too much for this game to overcome. The correct choice is almost always so much better than the next best, that there becomes no actual meaningful decisions to be made
 
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Steven Bartels
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Too much luck, if someone happens to get three-four of the advanced resources, glass and papyrus, theyve won.

The economy and architecture progress tokens are too strong.
 
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Dennis K
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My girlfriend and I played it the first time and I was lucky to get many blue cards when she tried to get me down with military or science. I had 33 points from blue cards,she had 12, so we came to the conclusion, military and science is to hard to fullfill, just collect cards , especially the blue one and you win.
What do you think?
 
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B. Perry
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I participated in a tournament at my FLGS recently. Almost half the games ended in a military or science victory. I expect further plays will show that blue cards aren't as overpowered as your thinking, especially at the exclusion of red/blue cards.
 
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Jonny K.
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It just depends what comes out on any given turn. If you've been ignoring military while your opponent has been focusing on it, you can easily find it sneaking up on you. I once ignored it at my own peril, thinking "ah there's still 3 slots before military domination, I'm fine." Low and behold, I flipped over a 3 point military card and handed my wife the game.
 
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