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Subject: Is Science Worth It? rss

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Wylliam Judd
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I often hear people say that you shouldn't let one player get all of the science cards. Our play group had a weird experience where one player got all of the science cards and didn't win, two games in a row.

In one game she got 11 of the science cards and lost (no one else had any science cards though, the rest were in the discard), in another game she got all 12 science cards and still lost to a score in the high 70s.
All 12 science cards is 76 points. But you're probably losing all three battles too, so that brings it down to 70 points. If just one science card gets built into a wonder, the most you can get is 62 points, or 56 after losing all three battles.

You could potentially get the Guild, or have the Wonder power to go higher with science cards, but A. the guild might not be there/ you might not have the wonder and B. that usually offsets some of your science cards getting placed as wonders.

Those two games made our play group feel that science cards aren't really worth pursuing. We generally only take them if there's nothing in the pack we need, or for whatever reason they give us more points than any of the other cards right then (e.g. the third in a set). This has led to our games feeling kind of same-y. The player who does the best usually has some points from military, some points from blue, some points from yellow, all their wonders, and lots of points from Guilds, and perhaps a set of 3 science cards, or none.

I've played dozens of games, and I've never seen the player with the most science win. Maybe that's because my play group avoided science after those two games where one player got all the science and still didn't win. On the other hand, in a play group where people hate-draft science, I can't imagine it does well at all. Have you seen a dedicated science strategy pay off in 7 Wonders? What were the circumstances? Was it a low-scoring game? Is there another component to the strategy? Have you had the same experience as me where it seems like science just doesn't pay?
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Anthony Heitzinger
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All 12 science cards is sorcery. I don't think you can build that many science cards without building duplicate buildings (you can't build two apothecaries, for instance).
If it somehow happened where you got 12 science icons (from the guild card and from the wonder upgrade), you would get 76pts from just one part of the scoring. That alone is probably enough, even with -6 pts from military (70pts is a great score in 7wonders). But if you managed to build a couple of high scoring blues as well (maybe a 5 and 6pt one), then bam, 81pts, and I'll be shocked if that gets beaten (possible, but not likely).

I mean, my guess is you guys might be scoring too much on another section of the game. Blue cards is flat vp, military caps at 18, most wonders have 10pts on them (or less), guild cards are very situationally strong (sometimes worth 10+pts, sometimes worth 3), and finally, the gold cards score very little and are consolations when there's nothing better to build. If a player dove into military and ensured he got those 18pts, he has to skimp elsewhere. To beat all science's 70pts, the military guy still needs 52pts. Say he accomplished his wonder and got 10. That's 42 more. How many blues can he get? Maybe 25pts, that's strong. So now he needs 17 more points. These have to come from gold, gold cards, and guilds. That's hard to do! In fact, I don't see it happening unless that player's neighbors are playing horribly by letting him get all the best cards for himself instead of grabbing them themselves (but then again, the entire table is playing horribly if they are allowing a player to get every single green card).

But that's besides the point. As far as strategy goes, all in science is not smart. You are too vulnerable to drawing bad hands where nothing is good for you, and you're forced to discard for 3. The key to being great at 7wonders is to have a bit of everything as that you can build just about any card and get something good out of it. By playing this way, you very rarely are left with a worthless hand, and if it does happen, that will be your time to bury a card into a wonder slot.
Going all science makes red, yellow, and most purple cards worthless, and makes most blues very difficult to build. So what do you do if you get a hand with no greens and you can't afford any of the blues? You're screwed, that's what.

The key with science is to dig into them, but don't overinvest. You want to get sets, and after your first set is made, you need to look around the board and see if other players are also chasing green. If so, maybe you should consider stopping there at 1 set (which is 10 points from 3 cards, a fair score at 3.3pts per card). If not, you could go for two sets (two sets is 26pts from 6 cards, or 4.3pts per card which is great). I advise against going for 3 sets unless your opponents are noobs. 3 sets means you got 48pts from 9 cards (so 5.6pts per card) which is incredibly good and will likely win you the game, so players will deny you of it if they can. So by not pursuing it, you still get players to deny you (meaning they waste their time), while you get to build good stuff anyways.

I've played around 100 games of 7wonders at this point, and the winner is almost always the player that got a bit of everything, including science (usually 2 sets, sometimes 1, rarely 3).
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Runcible Spoon
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Rachelisapoopy wrote:
...the winner is almost always the player that got a bit of everything, including science (usually 2 sets, sometimes 1, rarely 3).


This.

I will modify it a slightly, I tend to think 2 sets is a bit of a luxury and 1 is bit more common, otherwise I think this is pretty much spot on.
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Wylliam Judd
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Rachelisapoopy wrote:
All 12 science cards is sorcery. I don't think you can build that many science cards without building duplicate buildings (you can't build two apothecaries, for instance).


There are 12 science cards: Apothecary, Workshop, Scriptorium, Dispensery, Laboratory, Library, Lodge, Observatory, School, Academy, Study and University.

Rachelisapoopy wrote:
If it somehow happened where you got 12 science icons (from the guild card and from the wonder upgrade), you would get 76pts from just one part of the scoring. That alone is probably enough, even with -6 pts from military (70pts is a great score in 7wonders). But if you managed to build a couple of high scoring blues as well (maybe a 5 and 6pt one), then bam, 81pts, and I'll be shocked if that gets beaten (possible, but not likely).


I don't see how you're going to score any blue cards while also managing to get all 12 science cards.

Rachelisapoopy wrote:
...In fact, I don't see it happening unless that player's neighbors are playing horribly by letting him get all the best cards for himself instead of grabbing them themselves (but then again, the entire table is playing horribly if they are allowing a player to get every single green card).


How are neighbors playing horribly if they score over 70 points and the player who got all the green cards still didn't win?

EDIT: Here's how it might have gone down, I don't remember exactly:

Player 1
Military: 7
Blue: 21
Yellow: 11
Guilds: 25
Wonders: 10
Total: 74

Player 2
Military: -6
Science: 76
Total: 70

...and a bunch of other players, but others also scored in the 60s...

Rachelisapoopy wrote:
But that's besides the point. As far as strategy goes, all in science is not smart.


OK, so, yeah, that's what I'm saying here.

Rachelisapoopy wrote:
The key with science is to dig into them, but don't overinvest. You want to get sets, and after your first set is made, you need to look around the board and see if other players are also chasing green. If so, maybe you should consider stopping there at 1 set (which is 10 points from 3 cards, a fair score at 3.3pts per card). If not, you could go for two sets (two sets is 26pts from 6 cards, or 4.3pts per card which is great). I advise against going for 3 sets unless your opponents are noobs. 3 sets means you got 48pts from 9 cards (so 5.6pts per card) which is incredibly good and will likely win you the game, so players will deny you of it if they can. So by not pursuing it, you still get players to deny you (meaning they waste their time), while you get to build good stuff anyways.

I've played around 100 games of 7wonders at this point, and the winner is almost always the player that got a bit of everything, including science (usually 2 sets, sometimes 1, rarely 3).


OK, well I haven't played anywhere near that many games. Part of the problem I see with going for a third and especially fourth set of green cards isn't that they'll be denied to you, but that you'd have to prioritize them over the resources you need in order to get the high point blue cards and guilds in the third age.

I don't see at all how 48 points from science is likely to win you the game, when you're unlikely to get many more points from other sources.

BTW, how did you play 100 games? Is it available online?
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Wylliam Judd
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Runcible Spoon wrote:
Rachelisapoopy wrote:
...the winner is almost always the player that got a bit of everything, including science (usually 2 sets, sometimes 1, rarely 3).


This.

I will modify it a slightly, I tend to think 2 sets is a bit of a luxury and 1 is bit more common, otherwise I think this is pretty much spot on.


So, yeah, exactly. Exactly my point. And that's where the game feels a little samey. About two thirds of the players wind up with 10 points from a single science set, and the rest have no science points. The winner usually has 10+ points in several categories, which makes every game feel kind of the same.

I guess I just expected science to be a shoot the moon strategy, and for the other players to lose if they pass too many science cards because they aren't paying enough attention to them. But instead, an all-in science strategy appears not to be viable. Which is disappointing.
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Wylliam Judd
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I'd also love to hear any stories anyone has about winning (not scoring high, but winning) with 9+ science cards. What did you supplement it with? What did other players do? How high was your score?
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J
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wylliamjudd wrote:

Rachelisapoopy wrote:
...In fact, I don't see it happening unless that player's neighbors are playing horribly by letting him get all the best cards for himself instead of grabbing them themselves (but then again, the entire table is playing horribly if they are allowing a player to get every single green card).


How are neighbors playing horribly if they score over 70 points and the player who got all the green cards still didn't win? The final score card looks like this:

Player 1
Military: 16
Blue: 36
Yellow: 8
Guilds: 10
Wonders: 10
Total: 80

(I've seen scores as high as 90 with guilds scoring ~30 points)

Player 2
Military: -6
Science: 76
Total: 70

...and a bunch of other players, but others also scored in the 60s...


Were you playing this game with any expansions?
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Wylliam Judd
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No, I've never played any expansions.
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Gabriele Candiani
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wylliamjudd wrote:
No, I've never played any expansions.


Wow, my experience with the game is really different. Tipically winning scores in my group are in the range of 50s-60s (base game only). Maybe we are not very skilled, but I find it hard even to imagine how to get to 80 points.
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Tootsie Roll
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wylliamjudd wrote:
Player 1
Military: 16
Blue: 36
Yellow: 8
Guilds: 10
Wonders: 10
Total: 80

(I've seen scores as high as 90 with guilds scoring ~30 points)

Player 2
Military: -6
Science: 76
Total: 70

...and a bunch of other players, but others also scored in the 60s...


So here's my 2 cents, but it may not be worth that much.

Going big science (more than about 2 sets) causes a dramatic shift in the dynamic of the game which allows for significantly higher scores, and the person going in science tends to come in second in those situations. This is clearly demonstrated in the score you posted.

When one player goes big science, it allows other players to go in a combination of military and blue cards with a few other points thrown in that leads to a victory by the other player with scores in the range of the low 70s. 80 is an outlier in my experience. When people play a more balanced game, the winning score tends to be 60-65 frequently with some of those points coming from science.
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Ben Hawks
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How are you scoring that much? In my experience, a score of 50+ is usually a winning score in the base game. I cannot imagine actually losing with a score of 70.
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Raithyn
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It sounds like your table really needs to pay more attention to each other. If a guild could score another player 15+ points, you need to bury it. Don't pass it on to them. (Unless, of course, you can play a guild which scores you just as much. If so, do that instead.)

Science can be the game changer, but often that comes from the free chain builds. Utilizing those well requires incorporating diversity into your tableau plan as you go.
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Wylliam Judd
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I'll admit, this was probably the third and fourth games we'd ever played. So, we were all noobs for sure. They were both 7 player games, and while the winner got 80, and the science player got 70, there were players who scored in the high teens and low 20s and others who scored in the 50s and 60s. So, yeah, players were definitely getting fed Guilds that scored 10+ points. In one of the games one of the players got 16 points from Philosophers Guild because they were next to the Science player, and the player to their right also had six science cards (the game where the science player only got 11 science cards one of which was a Guild).

We've played a lot since then, but not with all the same seven players, so there's usually new players. But, the experienced players don't go after science anymore because of that experience we had early on. I'm still not convinced it's a winning strategy, again, because you have to pass powerful cards to pull it off, and then your score is still within reach.

I might try playing with a variant where if you get a 10th science card, you just win, similar to in 7 Wonders Duel. We haven't really played 7 Wonders since 7 Wonders Duel came out, partly because it was getting kind of boring for the player who won to just be the person who diversified the best every time.
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Jason W
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wylliamjudd wrote:
I guess I just expected science to be a shoot the moon strategy, and for the other players to lose if they pass too many science cards because they aren't paying enough attention to them. But instead, an all-in science strategy appears not to be viable. Which is disappointing.
You probably won't win with going all-in on any one strategy. You may be interested in knowing that 7 Wonders Duel has a 'go big or go home' science strategy. Collect enough science symbols and it's an automatic victory. There's also and instant-win condition for military.

Edit: Ok I see you're familiar with Duel...good.
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J
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wylliamjudd wrote:

Player 1
Military: 16
Blue: 36
Yellow: 8
Guilds: 10
Wonders: 10
Total: 80

(I've seen scores as high as 90 with guilds scoring ~30 points)


By any chance do you remember the wonder this player was using?
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Wylliam Judd
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jdw734 wrote:
You probably won't win with going all-in on any one strategy. You may be interested in knowing that 7 Wonders Duel has a 'go big or go home' science strategy. Collect enough science symbols and it's an automatic victory. There's also and instant-win condition for military.

Edit: Ok I see you're familiar with Duel...good.


Yeah, for a while I was like, 7 Wonders is so good, and there are other good 2-player games, why do I need 7 Wonders Duel? Then I found out about instant military and science victory, and I knew I'd love it.
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Wylliam Judd
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allstar64 wrote:


By any chance do you remember the wonder this player was using?


I don't sorry. An A side.
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Chris Ludgate
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wylliamjudd wrote:

Player 2
Military: -6
Science: 76
Total: 70


How is this score even possible. If they have 12 science cards (of which the Age II and Age III are pretty much all free from chaining), what did they do with the other 6 cards and their gold? I find it very hard to believe they got ZERO points from those. Surely an Age III card was buried for gold, or used to build a wonder, or a crappy card that gets a couple points.


wylliamjudd wrote:
I'd also love to hear any stories anyone has about winning (not scoring high, but winning) with 9+ science cards. What did you supplement it with? What did other players do? How high was your score?


Looking at my play history on the app, I see I won a game with 72 points, 55 of which from science. (Cities expansion used) Others were blue and gold heavy.
I've also come in 2nd (by a point) with 54 points, 48 of which were from science. (no expansion) Winner was heavy into blue and military.

The amount of science points someone has in my playgroup doesn't determine their placement in final scoring. Equal instances of winning, 2nd, 3rd or losing (we play 3-4 usually) for science-heavy plays. However, I can say that 68 is our record score sans expansions, so if someone were to get 70 (net) from science and military losses, plus at least a couple points from their 6 other turns, I'm fairly confident that they'd win a vast majority of the time.
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Tables
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wylliamjudd wrote:
Player 1
Military: 16
Blue: 36
Yellow: 8
Guilds: 10
Wonders: 10
Total: 80


Let's break this down.

36 points from blue is astonishing. How was this player getting so much blue? This means blue cards keep getting passed to them, which is either a very lucky scenario in terms of optimal card plays as other people keep foregoing it for better things, or it means people aren't paying attention and keep passing them very strong cards they can build and not building them themselves. Basically, either a good deal of luck, or poor play from opponents

Either way, 36 in blue probably means both the Pantheon and Palace. Definitely 7-9 blue cards regardless.

10 points from a stage III wonder means 3 cards invested in the wonder. That's fairly normal, but with only 18 card plays in the game it's worth noting.

16 points from Military is another interesting one. It means they scored 0-3-5 against each neighbour. At the very least that's one age II card play, however if that's all he played and got 16 points, their neighbours screwed up BAD. More likely he needed to play at least 1 per age and probably more like 3-4 cards total.

10 from Guilds is possible with just one card, but more likely would be 2 guilds. That's a pretty lucky guild play if it's just one card.

8 from yellow... Hmm, this one is interesting. It implies several card plays. Arena is easy for 3 points, but what else? Lighthouse implies 5 yellow cards total, Haven implies another 5 brown cards, Chamber of Commerce is kinda awkward to fit in. But let's add things up so far.

Blue: 7-9 cards (likely: 8)
Green: 0
Red: 1-4 cards (likely: 3)
Purple: 1-2 cards (likely: 2)
Yellow+Brown: 5-7 cards (likely: 2 + 5 brown OR 5 yellow)
Wonder: 3 cards

Total: About 21 or 23 card plays.

Obviously, something here doesn't add up. We've gone way over our estimates. That means this player's getting some really good efficiency somewhere. In fact even adding up the absolute minimum cards everywhere gives a total of 17, meaning only one card slack - and note that combination requires 5 yellow cards and no brown. So I think this means he did all this on only one resource? That seems pretty insane. How does one build the Palace, the Pantheon, a 10 point guild, and several other very high scoring cards with only a single resource card play? Probably a few yellow cards to help, and his Wonder I'd guess was probably either Olympia (cheap trading) or Halikarnassos (resource per turn), but this still seems ludicrous. This still feels like a combination of both an incredible bout of luck and really bad play from neighbours, especially in terms of military. Assuming, of course, that no rules did get broken, and everything was counted correctly.
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Gabriele Candiani
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Yeah, that was my conclusion as well.
I suspect they might have played without discarding the last card of each age, thus using 21 cards instead of 18.
Is this the case?
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Wylliam Judd
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I Eat Tables wrote:

Obviously, something here doesn't add up. We've gone way over our estimates. That means this player's getting some really good efficiency somewhere. In fact even adding up the absolute minimum cards everywhere gives a total of 17, meaning only one card slack - and note that combination requires 5 yellow cards and no brown. So I think this means he did all this on only one resource? That seems pretty insane. How does one build the Palace, the Pantheon, a 10 point guild, and several other very high scoring cards with only a single resource card play? Probably a few yellow cards to help, and his Wonder I'd guess was probably either Olympia (cheap trading) or Halikarnassos (resource per turn), but this still seems ludicrous. This still feels like a combination of both an incredible bout of luck and really bad play from neighbours, especially in terms of military. Assuming, of course, that no rules did get broken, and everything was counted correctly.


We were playing with only 18 card plays. I was recalling these scores from memory and it's entirely possible I made a mistake. I remember the game clearly though, and one player got all of the science cards, and still didn't win. It may have been that the winner had closer to 20 points from blue and 20+ points from guilds. For example Philosopher's Guild would be worth 12 points from the science player alone, and potentially more than that if the player sitting on the other side also had green cards.

(Sorry for making it sound like I was looking at the score sheet blush)

My copy of 7 Wonders is in storage or I'd just look at the score sheet. Though this might have been one of the games we scored on the app.

This was early on and we were making a rules mistake. We played with only 18 card drops, but I think this was when we were still playing where you're not allowed to buy grey goods from your neighbors. That might explain high value cards making it around in the third age. It was also probably four of the players' first time playing 7 Wonders, and like I said the scores ranged from the teens to the 70s.

Still, I'm not convinced that science is a viable strategy for winning a game of vanilla 7 Wonders. I've played a lot since then, and I've never seen a player score more than 48 from science and win. And we don't hate-draft science at all, it's wide open, it just doesn't appear viable to our group.

But! I'm open to being convinced! Tell me a story of a time when you won with dedicated science! How did it go? What was your score? What was the 2nd place score? What else did you build? Have you ever done it in vanilla 7 Wonders?
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Wylliam Judd
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Here's a more likely breakdown:

Military: 7 points

1 card (second age, next to science player, -1 from loss in third age)

Blue: 21 points

4 cards (two from second and third age each)

Yellow: 11 points

8 cards (8 brown and yellow cards with Lighthouse, Haven, and Arena)

Wonder: 10 points

3 cards

Guilds: 25 points

2 cards, including Philosopher's Guild for 15, and maybe 10 from Craftsmens Guild.

Total points: 74
Total cards: 18

Let's imagine that the Science player had chosen to take a military card in the third age. Player 1 would wind up with 1 point (3 - 2) from military, and the science player would wind up with 0 points from military (5 - 5). That would bring player 1's score down to 68 (67 actually, because Philosopher's Guild also scores one less point), but it would bring the science player's score down to 62. This is actually a slightly wider gap. So, it's still correct to let that player get the free 5 points off of their Age II military card and take the 12th science card (assuming military and science are clumped in the same packs).
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While this current score is more reasonable than what you posted before it is still falls into the category of "Not within the realm of an average game."

For Starters you've left out money which is hard to measure since some strategies get a ton whereas some spend a ton.

The guilds are probably the biggest outlier. An average good guild scores 5~9 points whereas a phenomenal guild scores 10~12 and more than that is very very rare. The notion that you could reliably pull 2 guilds worth 12 and 13 points is not realistic although I will concede that if you are next to the science player that does indeed raise the likelihood as the Philosopher's Guild will be 12 vp at least in this scenario.

Your military is also an outlier as it assumes that you won't lose all 3 fights with your other neighbor (with only 1 age 2 investment that would be very likely if your other neighbor is a good player) which would actually put your score at 5 but it also assumes that the science player won't notice how low of an investment threshold they have to score a lot of vp. Your analysis is also wrong as there are only 5 age 3 science symbols so that leaves the science player with 1 extra play to get the military card though this is also assuming pretty much perfect luck on the part of the science player.

Your last Outlier is a mix of everything in age 3. For starters you have listed 7 Age 3 cards although I believe your yellow cards listed were just examples so I'm gonna round down to 6. Regardless this means that you are assuming that your wonder will be completed in age 2. This alone is the outlier. Completing your wonder in age 2 means you are committing yourself to the luck of the draw to get repeated age 3 plays that are worth high points. People usually avoid finishing their wonder early because against good opponents you can count on at least one of your hands being rather bad usually having useless greens, reds and even purples. Realistically if you finish your wonder in age 2 you WILL have a turn or even 2 turns in age 3 where you are only getting 1~3 points.
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But! I'm open to being convinced! Tell me a story of a time when you won with dedicated science! How did it go? What was your score? What was the 2nd place score? What else did you build? Have you ever done it in vanilla 7 Wonders?


First of all I want to thank you. Your attitude has been great. I've seen situations where players asked questions like yours but then got super defensive but instead you've taken all the criticism and remains with a good temperament which has kept this thread from spiraling.

However there's just no easy way to say this. A score of 70+, especially in vanilla 7 wonders, is just not a score that is easily topable. With average~good players scores in the mid 50s to mid 60s are very average with scores in the mid to high 60s often winning. 70 certianly is possible, just a lot rarer and 80 is all but unheard of.

If you are unwilling to accept that a score of 70 is an "above average winning score" and you keep treating it like the average we are not going to be able to convince you that all science almost always is an auto-win.

I have seen many groups play and I even have friends who will roboticly try and get every science card regardless if it's good for them to try or not. Sometimes it works but often it doesn't but not because it's not good, but because we've learned how to prevent a runaway science player from winning by hatedrafting him (ie building our wonders with) science.

76 Points in 12 cards is great. You keep trying to say that he'll have -6 from military but this just is not necessarily true. A science player can take advantage of lots and lots of "lead ins" meaning that the resources he requires is a lot less, (all 3 developed resources and a wood will get you all science without interference). and several of the science cards lead into other cards like blues, reds and yellows not to mention he always has his wonder. Realistically a player who was able to get all the science is looking at a score in the mid 70s low 8-s which is very rarely going to be beaten. Getting all the science is the closest this game has to a "reliable" way to break 70 vp although it of course isn't reliable due to hate drafting and possible bad luck of science grouping.

As for your request for specific games I have indeed seen all 12 science obtained (win with scores right around what I said, this was online so you know the rules were being followed).
I have also seen 3 complete sets do very well as this take only half your plays and lets you pursue other stuff.
The expansions tried to alleviate this hate drafting a bit by adding additional ways to get symbols. My personal greatest achievement in 7 wonders science was getting 8 of a kind though after the game one of my neighbors admitted that due to the glare from the window she couldn't see my cards and didn't realize she was helping me get it.
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Based on my experience (over 9000 games on BSW) a player who got 4 sets of science (76 points) is the winner. I've probably seen exceptions but it's extremely rare. 55 or 62 in science doesn't ensure victory, though, but it is very strong main strategy and assuming there is any support strategy this player will win.

Second, as mentioned by Tables the score of 80 in the base game doesn't seem possible without heavy science or really strong combination of guilds. I suspect topic starter's group missed some rules.

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wylliamjudd wrote:

Still, I'm not convinced that science is a viable strategy for winning a game of vanilla 7 Wonders. I've played a lot since then, and I've never seen a player score more than 48 from science and win.

Play more.

I'm sorry if it sounds offensive but the game has sufficient depth (at 3 and 4 player count) so you need at least a few hundred games to really get it.

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